Larson Steals One as Byron & Gibbs Wreck Fighting for the Lead

The NASCAR Xfinity Series headed to the mountains of New York state for some road racing at historic Watkins Glen International. With just four races left until the playoffs start, there was still plenty of room for chaos if a non-playoff series regular could overcome a top-heavy field with several Cup Series competitors and road course aces that are already locked in.

Among those Cup Series regulars were Kyle Larson, William Byron, Cole Custer, and Ross Chastain. Byron managed to qualify on pole with road course all-star Ty Gibbs to his outside. The pair was trailed by defending Cup Series champion Kyle Larson, and the winningest Xfinity Series road course racer of all time A.J. Allmendinger on row two, then Cole Custer and Riley Herbst on row three.

There were a few interesting drivers and stories. throughout the field as well. Friend of the site Brad Perez, after failing to qualify in his first attempt at an Xfinity start at Indy a few weeks ago, put together a solid qualifying effort in the #35 Emerling-Gase Toyota, lining up 27th for his series debut. ARCA star Sammy Smith made his fourth career Xfinity Series start, rolling off 19th. Kaz Grala also made his seventh start of the year, as he continues his journey to prove that he belongs. Truck Series regular Austin Wayne Self was also attempting to make his series debut, but failed to qualify.

JD Motorsports also saw their sub-par season hit a new low, as Spencer Pumpelly – who was replacing the #6’s normal driver, Ryan Vargas – failed to qualify, while his JD teammate Bayley Currey barely squeaked into the field on a provisional. Stanton Barrett, who was attempting to make his first Xfinity Series start since 2019, was the third and final car that failed to qualify, marking the 14th time the Mike Harmon Racing #47 car has failed to qualify.

The majority of the race was marked by a series of back and forth battles between Ty Gibbs and William Byron – who were clearly the class of the field all day – with the action split up by a number of wrecks. In all, eight cars recorded DNF’s, including Justin Allgaier who wrecked out early following a solo spin on lap five, and defending Series champion Daniel Hemric who suffered a mechanical failure and made heavy contact with the tire barrier in turn five.

Ultimately, the race was decided by late race contact between William Byron and Ty Gibbs, who got together and spun off track after Gibbs got loose in the bus stop with five to go while the two were battling for the lead, allowing Kyle Larson, AJ Allmendinger, and Sammy Smith to slip through to the top three spots and battle for the win as the race stayed green. Allmendinger put an incredible amount of pressure on Larson in an attempt to win yet another Xfinity Series road race, but it ultimately wasn’t enough as Larson was able to hang on for the win, JR Motorsports ninth win of the year, and the first for the star-studded #88 lineup on the year.

There were plenty of other notable results throughout the field. Sammy Smith picked up a very impressive P3 run, Kaz Grala picked up a P5 finish that is sure to help his career in a big way, and Riley Herbst picked up his 15th top-10 on the year with a P7 finish. Outside of the top-10, Stefan Parsons picked up a career best P12 finish, which also marked the best ever result for his team Alpha Prime Racing. Timmy Hill collected his best finish of the year in P14, and Brad Perez – making his series debut – collected a top-20, bringing it home P20.

Next week, the Series heads to Daytona International Speedway for the final race before the playoffs begin. Will the playoff field remain the same, or will a new and unexpected winner throw a wrench in the works? Who knows – that’s the fun!

Final Results:

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. A.J. Allmendinger
  3. Sammy Smith
  4. Noah Gragson
  5. Kaz Grala
  6. Sam Mayer
  7. Riley Herbst
  8. Sheldon Creed
  9. Josh Berry
  10. Jeremy Clements
  11. Cole Custer
  12. Stefan Parsons
  13. Ryan Seig
  14. Timmy Hill
  15. Connor Mosack
  16. Landon Cassill
  17. Josh Bilicki
  18. Anthony Alfredo
  19. Andy Lally
  20. Brad Perez
  21. Preston Pardus
  22. Kyle Weatherman
  23. Scott Heckert
  24. Brandon Jones
  25. William Byron
  26. Bayley Currey
  27. Ty Gibbs
  28. Ross Chastain
  29. Blaine Perkins
  30. Austin Hill
  31. Daniel Hemric (DNF)
  32. Brandon Brown (DNF)
  33. Myatt Snider (DNF)
  34. Kris Wright (DNF)
  35. Alex Labbe (DNF)
  36. Patrick Gallagher (DNF)
  37. Jeb Burton (DNF)
  38. Justin Allgaier (DNF)

Picture credit: JR Motorsports Twitter

Published by Walker Skeeter

Walker is a 4th year climatology PhD candidate at the University of Delaware. Despite being a climate scientist, Walker has been a NASCAR fan for over 20 years! His favorite drivers are Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, and Alex Bowman in cup, and AJ Allmendinger, Tommy Joe Martins, and Ryan Vargas in Xfinity. Outside of racing, he enjoys talking about (and studying) the weather, watching Baltimore sports, and playing video games.

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