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Kyle Larson Beats the Heat in Xfinity Chicago Victory

Overton's 300 at Chicagoland Speedway
Saturday, June 30, 2018

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Kyle Larson
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

When Kyle Larson crossed the finish line at Chicagoland Speedway 8.030 seconds ahead of runner-up Kevin Harvick, there were no screams of elation from the winner of Saturday’s Overton’s 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race. 

Instead, Larson placed an order. 

"Water, ice and towel at the start/finish line," Larson radioed to his team, after winning a race in mind-numbing heat that approached 150 degrees in the greenhouse of his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro. 

Larson had won the pole earlier in the day but had to start from the rear of the field because of a flat right front tire that required changing before the race. That proved only a temporary deterrent. 

By the end of the first 45-lap stage, Larson had driven up to sixth place, and on Lap 72, he made a three-wide pass of Harvick and Christopher Bell to take the lead for the first time.  

The 25-year-old Californian went on to lead a race-high 80 laps and took advantage of an 80-lap green-flag run to the finish to win for the first time at Chicagoland, the second time this season and the 10th time in his career. 

"Yeah, it was pretty hot," Larson said in the understatement of the week. "But the adrenaline was kicking in. I can’t say enough about this race car. We were really bad (Friday in practice), so it’s cool we could win. 

"We were able to get our car better for today. These guys (the No. 42 team) never quit. The pit crew was amazing. That was really a key there, I thought, to get some track position after falling back to fourth (after the restart following the end of Stage 2)." 

In fact, Larson gained two positions on pit road under a caution for debris in Turn 4 on Lap 114 and restarted third on the bottom on Lap 121. He cleared the fourth-place car of Christopher Bell on the restart and took off in pursuit of Harvick, who had assumed the lead.  

"I was able to stay pretty close to Harvick on the bottom," Larson said. "I felt like, if the race stayed green, I would eat him up." 

Indeed, after the tires began to wear, Larson moved to the top of the track, where he was unstoppable. On Lap 142 he surged past Harvick into the lead and extended his advantage to more than four seconds before a cycle of green-flag pit stops that started on Lap 166.  

When the cycle ended with Brandon Jones’ stop on Lap 180, Larson was up by 9.490 seconds. From that point on, it was a cruise to the finish—in a steam bath. 

"I needed a short run there, for sure," said Harvick, who led 38 laps. "The Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford was really good there for about 25 laps, and Kyle would struggle for 25 laps. I just didn’t need it to go green.

"I just couldn’t run the top. I would slide the front tires, and I didn’t have enough rear grip to throttle through the center of the corners. My car wouldn't turn, but on the bottom." 

And the bottom lane wasn’t the fast way around the 1.5-mile track when the tires began to wear.  

Kyle Larson led a race-high 80 laps despite starting in the rear of the field
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Cole Custer ran third and took the series lead from sixth-place Elliott Sadler, who fell to third in the standings behind Custer and fifth-place finisher Daniel Hemric. Daniel Suarez came home fourth in his second Xfinity start of the season. 

Justin Allgaier ran seventh, followed by Paul Menard and Chase Briscoe, who scored his first career top-10 in the series. Chase Elliott was 10th and paid a quick visit to the infield care center before Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying for some IV fluids. 

"I feel a lot better now," Elliott said on his way out of the care center. "Those IVs make you feel like a million bucks."

RACE RESULTS

Finish Start # Driver Sponsor/Make Laps Led Points Status
1 1 42 Kyle Larson ENEOS Chevrolet 200 80 0 Running
2 13 98 Kevin Harvick Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford 200 38 0 Running
3 12 0 Cole Custer Haas Automation Ford 200 0 41 Running
4 4 18 Daniel Suarez Juniper Networks Toyota 200 13 0 Running
5 10 21 Daniel Hemric South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet 200 0 41 Running
6 8 1 Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial Chevrolet 200 0 33 Running
7 18 7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Chevrolet 200 0 35 Running
8 5 22 Paul Menard Discount Tire Ford 200 0 0 Running
9 17 60 Chase Briscoe Nutri Chomps Ford 200 2 28 Running
10 9 23 Chase Elliott UNTUCKit Chevrolet 200 0 0 Running
11 6 19 Brandon Jones Menards/Jeld-Wen Toyota 200 11 32 Running
12 11 20 Christopher Bell Rheem Toyota 199 21 42 Running
13 23 4 Ross Chastain Gerber Collision & Glass Chevrolet 199 0 24 Running
14 3 12 Austin Cindric Menards/Mastercraft Doors Ford 199 0 25 Running
15 15 11 Ryan Truex Phantom Fireworks Chevrolet 199 0 22 Running
16 7 2 Matt Tifft Surface Sunscreen Chevrolet 199 0 21 Running
17 24 51 Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet 199 0 20 Running
18 26 38 JJ Yeley Anixter/Superior Essex Chevrolet 197 0 19 Running
19 25 0 Garrett Smithley Trophy Tractor/FAME Chevrolet 196 0 18 Running
20 21 39 Ryan Sieg PYT Sports Chevrolet 196 0 17 Running
21 22 36 Alex Labbe Can-Am Chevrolet 196 0 16 Running
22 27 35 Joey Gase Sparks Chevrolet 195 0 15 Running
23 29 52 David Starr Chasco/Whataburger Chevrolet 194 0 14 Running
24 32 8 Blake Jones Tennessee XXX Moonshine Chevrolet 194 0 13 Running
25 30 15 BJ McLeod Chevrolet 191 0 12 Running
26 37 55 Brandon Hightower Cane River Brewing Co. Toyota 190 0 11 Running
27 40 1 Vinnie Miller Gerber Collision & Glass Chevrolet 178 0 10 Running
28 39 78 Scott Heckert JW Transport LLC Chevrolet 146 0 9 Electrical
29 36 76 Spencer Boyd Grunt Style Chevrolet 134 0 8 Suspension
30 19 5 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Chevrolet 130 0 7 Accident
31 33 90 Josh Williams Sleep Well Chevrolet 117 0 6 Brakes
32 16 16 Ryan Reed Drive Down A1C Lilly Diabetes Ford 105 0 5 Accident
33 2 9 Tyler Reddick Takl Chevrolet 99 35 18 Accident
34 14 3 Jeb Burton Work4Estes.com Chevrolet 99 0 3 Accident
35 35 45 Josh Bilicki Prevagen Toyota 83 0 2 Fuel Pump
36 38 66 John Jackson CrashClaimsR.Us Dodge 63 0 1 Suspension
37 28 13 Timmy Hill OCR Gaz Bar Toyota 52 0 1 Suspension
38 34 40 Chad Finchum Smithbilt Homes Toyota 23 0 1 Engine
39 31 93 Jeff Green RSS Racing Chevrolet 2 0 1 Fuel Pump
40 20 61 Kaz Grala Kiklos/IT Coalition Ford 1 0 1 Electrical



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