Kyle Larson and Joey Logano each overcame early problems to square off for the victory at the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at Auto Club Speedway.
But Larson’s comeback had a bit extra to give the 24-year-old Californian the victory by 1.3 seconds over Logano in the Service King 300 in NASCAR’s second-level series.
The win extended Larson’s strong weekend at the two-mile Fontana track. He’s also on the pole for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 in NASCAR’s top-tier Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, where Larson normally competes.
“It was a lot of fun [battling] with Joey,” with the two drivers frequently swapping the lead and racing side by side in the closing laps, Larson said.
“Next up is definitely to try to win” again Sunday, he said. “[Our] confidence is high right now.”
It was Larson’s first Xfinity victory of the year and his sixth in the series overall.
Kyle Busch, who holds the record of six Xfinity wins at Auto Club Speedway, finished third. Erik Jones was fourth and 19-year-old rookie William Byron finished fifth.
Larson was penalized earlier in the 150-lap race for speeding on pit road, forcing him to hustle his No. 42 Chevrolet back up through the field to again reach the leaders.
Logano, who started on the pole, also had a pit-road speeding penalty. Later, while leading the race, Logano suffered a second problem when his No. 22 Ford fell off the tire jack during a pit stop, dropping him to 27th.
So Logano, 26, also had to march back through the field to set up the finish with Larson.
“Today we didn’t execute well at all and we’re lucky to place second,” Logano said.
Regardless, Logano said enjoyed the give-and-take with Larson on the wide Auto Club Speedway.
“What an awesome race track, it’s so much fun,” he said. “You can run anywhere you want.”
Logano had one last shot at Larson when a late caution set up a restart with only four laps left. But Larson jumped in front of Logano and never relinquished the lead.
“We got the car [set up] right at that point in the race,” said Larson’s crew chief, Mike Shiplett.
The race featured a couple of hard crashes into the outside wall.
The first occurred on Lap 94 when Paul Menard’s Chevrolet careened into the wall after being tapped from behind by Jones’ Toyota. Later, Cole Custer’s Ford likewise slammed into the wall. Neither driver was injured.
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