Saturday, April 29, 2017

Kyle Larson earns surprise win in the ToyotaCare 250

Credit: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs
 By Carol D’Agostino

When the green flagged dropped for the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond, all eyes were on the front row, where Daniel Hemric headed the field after earning his first NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light pole. Starting beside Hemric was Kyle Benjamin, Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR Next graduate, who was making his series debut.

After the race went into overtime, it was Kyle Larson who ended up in Victory Lane, spoiling the win for Series regular Justin Allgaier, who had the dominant car all day, leading 157 laps. Allgaier finished second and earned his second $100,000 Dash for Cash bonus this season.

Hemric finished third and was the highest-finishing rookie. Benjamin wasn’t as lucky, and wrecked on Lap 247 in an incident involving five other cars. 

Larson was happily surprised with the win, using pit strategy during the last caution to gain track position.

“I felt like if we could gain a spot on pit road, we'd have a shot at winning, and that’s what happened," Larson said. "We lined up third. Ty was on two tires, and he took off a little before the box. They called him for a jump-start, and we were able to be the leader on that final one (restart). Justin got a really good start on that top lane. He was able to hang on my right side through one and we cleared him off two. They started crashing behind us. I was happy to see them all wreck because I didn’t want to have to race a whole other lap with Justin behind me because he had the dominant car by far."

Allgaier’s Dash for Cash win was overshadowed by his disappointment over losing the race.

“Ultimately we come here to win the race," he said. "We had a great opportunity to do that, and unfortunately at the end the wheels fell off of the race and went haywire. We ultimately paid the biggest price, and didn’t get to go to Victory Lane. Even though it is disappointing, we still did a great job. We’ve won two out of three so far (Dash for Cash). All in all it was still a good day."

As the series goes to Talladega Superspeedway next Saturday for the ninth race of the season, Elliott Sadler holds his lead in the driver standings, with Allgaier in second. William Byron, Hemric and Bubba Wallace Jr. round out the top five.

Credit: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs

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