Saturday, November 5, 2016

Kyle Larson Parks It in Xfinity Series Victory Lane at Texas

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
by Lisa Janine Cloud

Kyle Larson parked it in Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday afternoon in the Xfinity Series O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.

Brad Keselowski led the most laps with 122, but Larson took the lead on Lap 171 and used his preferred line to keep Keselowski behind him. At one point Larson brushed the wall, scraping the right side of the ENEOS Chevrolet and rubbing the lettering off his right rear tire.

The contact didn’t slow him significantly, though, and in fact, Larson said, “I thought it tightened my car up, and I felt a little more comfortable.”

Owen Larson helps his dad apply the winner's sticker in Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway, Nov. 5, 2016.
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Keselowski didn't appear to be particularly frustrated, despite his second-place finish.

“We had a really strong car, and we made a major stride forward with this team and this program which feels really good," he said. "I am very happy about the speed we had and being able to lead a lot of laps and am disappointed to not be able to bring it home there at the end. All in all it was a good weekend for the 22 Discount Tire Ford XFINITY team.”

Third place went to Kevin Harvick, driving for JR Motorsports, while Chaser Erik Jones finished fourth, the highest-finishing rookie.

“It’s a good day for us, one of the first points days we’ve had in this Chase," Jones stated. "It was a solid day and what we needed to do to get ourselves in a good spot. I think we’re finally a few points ahead now into the top four – a good day for us. We obviously want to go out there and try to win these races, but just didn’t have the car to do it today. The GameStop Camry was okay – we made some adjustments on it throughout the day to get it to where we wanted it to be. I wish we could have gone up there and contended for the win, but a good day overall.”

Still, Daniel Suarez heads into Phoenix with the points lead. He had alternator problems early in the race and had to run the majority of the 200 laps with no fans or cooling. His fifth-place finish put him ahead of Elliott Sadler by a single point.

“I was worried because we were a little bit before or after halfway, and I knew we had at least 90 more laps to go," explained Suarez. "I know that I had a second battery, but you never know and you want to be able to go. We have a lot of time we could work on the tires and brakes and everything, but after that issue I wasn’t able to use anything, even my AC. We’re lucky that it was cloudy and fresh. In a hot day it could have been more difficult. We made it.”

All the other Chase contenders finished in the top 15. Elliott Sadler came home sixth with his JRM teammate Justin Allgaier in 10th. Darrell Wallace Jr. crossed the line 11th, and will need a win in Phoenix to avoid elimination. Ryan Reed, Blake Koch and Brendan Gaughan wound up 12th, 14th and 15th, respectively.

The Xfinity Series Chase standings after Texas:

Daniel Suarez  - 3075
Elliott Sadler - 3074
Erik Jones - 3065
Blake Koch - 3059
Justin Allgaier - 3058
Ryan Reed - 3054
Darrell Wallace Jr. - 3039
Brendan Gaughan - 3036

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