Larson claims fifth checkered flag of 2021 at Watkins Glen

Victory No. 5 was awarded to the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE at Watkins Glen International after Kyle Larson led the final 26 of 90 laps and fended off his teammate and a hard-charging Chase Elliott to win the Go Bowling at The Glen on Sunday, August 8. The victory was Larson’s fifth of the season, which reignited his challenge for this year’s NASCAR Cup Series title.

The starting lineup was based on a performance metric formula, weighing the driver’s and owner’s results from a previous Cup event, the owner points position and the fastest lap recorded from a previous Cup race. With that, Brad Keselowski, who is set to join Roush Fenway Racing as a driver and co-owner in 2022, started on pole position and was joined on the front row with teammate Joey Logano.

Prior to the event, Chase Elliott and Christopher Bell started at the rear of the field due to their respective cars not complying with the technical rules related to the rear window air deflector. As a result, Alan Gustafson, Elliott’s crew chief, and Adam Stevens, Bell’s crew chief, have been suspended from participating in today’s Cup event along with being fined $25,000. Both competitors were docked 10 points. Engineer Tom Gray served as an interim crew chief for Elliott while car chief Chris Sherwood was atop the pit box of Bell’s team.

When the green flag waved and the race commenced, Keselowski managed to pull ahead of teammate Logano to assume an early advantage through the first turn and heading into the Esses. Through the Esses, the backstretch, the chicane and the seven-turn, 2.45-mile road course, Keselowski managed to lead the first lap while the field battled jostled for positioning.

Following the first lap, Ryan Newman spun in Turn 1, but he managed to continued and the race proceeded under green.

By the third lap, Keselowski was still leading by three-tenths of a second over teammate Logano, with Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. in the top five. Ryan Blaney was in sixth followed by Tyler Reddick, William Byron, Kevin Harvick and Alex Bowman.

Through the first five laps of the event, Keselowski, racing in the No. 2 Wabash National Ford Mustang, continued to hold a slim lead over teammate Logano’s No. 22 Verizon 5G Ford Mustang and Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. By then, Elliott and Bell were mired back in 23rd and 26th.

On the ninth lap, Keselowski got loose while leading and spun in Turn 6. Keselowski’s misfortune allowed teammate Logano to slip by and take the lead just as the competition caution flew scheduled on Lap 10. Larson moved up to second place followed by Truex, Hamlin and Blaney while Keselowski, who quickly recovered following his spin, fell back to sixth.

Under the competition caution, names like Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Elliott, Michael McDowell, Bubba Wallace, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Preece, rookie Chase Briscoe and others pitted while the rest led by Logano remained on the track.

When the race restarted on Lap 12, Logano managed to pull ahead of Larson and retain the lead through the first turn and heading into the Esses. While Larson kept Logano in his sights, Truex and Hamlin were in third and fourth while Reddick battled Blaney, Byron and Kyle Busch for a spot in the top five. 

By Lap 15, Logano continued to lead by three-tenths of a second over Larson while third-place Truex and fourth-place Hamlin were approximately a second behind. By then, Reddick retained fifth ahead of Blaney, Byron, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Alex Bowman. Behind, Austin Dillon was in 11th ahead of Erik Jones, Keselowski was in 14th behind Matt DiBenedetto, Aric Almirola was in 15th in front of Ross Chastain and Bell, Elliott and Kurt Busch were in 18th and 20th, Briscoe was in 21st, Daniel Suarez and Bubba Wallace were in 22nd and 25th and Ryan Newman was in 26th ahead of Stenhouse and Michael McDowell.

Not long after, some competitors led by Blaney and including Harvick, DiBenedetto, Ryan Newman, Chastain, Briscoe, Cole Custer, Wallace, Bell and Almirola pitted under green. The following lap, Truex pitted just as the pit road entrance closed to signal the end of the first stage nearing.

Back on the track, Logano continued to lead by nearly half a second over Larson and more than a second over Hamlin. Despite being pressured by Larson, Logano managed to maintain the lead and capture the first stage victory on Lap 20, thus claiming his fourth stage victory of the season. Larson settled in second followed by Hamlin, Reddick, Byron, Kyle Busch, Bowman, Elliott, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones.

Under the stage break, a majority led by Logano pitted while others led by Stenhouse and Truex remained on the track.

The second stage started on Lap 22. At the start, Briscoe, who restarted on the second row, made a bold three-wide move in a bid for the lead. Truex, however, was able to take over the lead over Briscoe through the first turn and the Esses. Behind, Kevin Harvick made his way to fourth ahead of Blaney, Bell and Matt DiBenedetto.

Approaching Lap 24, the caution flew due to James Davison stalling his car near Turns 6 and 7. By then, Truex was leading by more than a second over Briscoe, with Stenhouse, Harvick and Bell running in the top five. Behind, Blaney spun through the Bus Stop, but he managed to continue. In addition, Keselowski pitted to address a braking issue to his car. 

Under caution, names like Keselowski, Suarez, rookie Anthony Alfredo, Blaney and RC Enerson pitted while the rest led by Truex remained on the track.

When the race restarted on Lap 27, Truex managed to retain the lead while Harvick, a former Glen winner who is pursuing his first victory of the season, muscled his way into the runner-up spot. Briscoe fell back to third ahead of Bell, DiBenedetto and Stenhouse.

By Lap 30, Truex continued to lead by more than two seconds over teammate Bell, who out-braked Harvick entering the Bus Stop the previous lap to take over the runner-up spot. Briscoe and DiBenedetto were in the top five followed by Chastain, Stenhouse, Logano, Custer and Larson. Behind, Elliott, who was running in the mid-20s, pitted under green after he flat-spotted his tires.

With three laps remaining in the second stage, Bubba Wallace and Corey LaJoie pitted under green. By then, Truex was leading by three seconds over teammate Bell.

When the second stage concluded on Lap 40, Truex remained uncontested as he claimed his fifth stage victory of the season. Bell settled in second, trailing by more than three seconds, while Harvick, Larson, Briscoe, Chastain, DiBenedetto, Hamlin, Logano and Kyle Busch were scored in the top 10.

Under the stage break, some featuring Hamlin pitted while the rest led by Truex remained on the track.

With 47 laps remaining, the final stage started. At the start, Truex launched ahead while Bell withstood his ground over Harvick to retain the runner-up spot. Through the Esses, the backstretch and the bus stop, the field settled in a single-file line as Truex remained at the front ahead of teammate Bell.

At the halfway mark on Lap 45, Truex was leading by three-tenths of a second over teammate Bell while Larson was in third and trailing by more than six-tenths of a second. Chastain and Harvick were in the top five followed by Briscoe, Kyle Busch, Byron, Logano and DiBenedetto. Behind, Austin Dillon was in 11th ahead of Newman and Aric Almirola, Keselowski was in 15th behind teammate Blaney, Hamlin and Elliott were in 16th and 18th, Kurt Busch was in 21st ahead of Reddick and Wallace was in 24th ahead of Bowman and Suarez.

Two laps later, Bell and Larson issued a challenge for the lead on Truex past the start/finis line and entering the first turn, but Truex managed to fend off the near three-wide battle from both competitors past the first turn and through the Esses.

With 40 laps remaining, the top-three competitors — Truex, Bell and Larson — were separated by less than a second, with Truex continuing to lead over teammate Bell and Larson. Chastain and Harvick continued to run in the top five ahead of Briscoe, Kyle Busch, Byron, DiBenedetto and Hamlin. By then, Elliott moved up to 11th ahead of Logano.

Four laps later, what became an intense three-car battle for the lead dwindled down to two after Larson locked up his brakes and bumped into Bell, thus sending Bell’s No. 20 Stanley Toyota Camry spinning in Turn 1, though he continued under green. 

With Bell out of contention, Truex was leading by more than a second over Larson. Behind, Harvick and Chastain pitted under green. Back on track, another green-flag incident occurred in Turn 1 after Keselowski locked up entering the first turn and spun, clipping teammate Logano in the process as both Penske competitors spun and sustained damage to their respective Mustangs.

In the ensuing laps, names like Briscoe, DiBenedetto, Newman and McDowell pitted under green. Truex, the race leader, also pitted along with runner-up Larson, giving the lead to Hamlin while Elliott moved up to second.

With 30 laps remaining and a variety of pit strategy occurring, Hamlin continued to lead while Elliott surrendered the runner-up spot to pit. By then, names like Blaney, Bowman, Almirola, Chris Buescher, Wallace, Alfredo, Josh Bilicki, Reddick and Stenhouse had made a pit stop.

On Lap 63, Kurt Busch took over the top spot after Hamlin brought his No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry for fuel. Two laps later, Kurt Busch pitted and Larson, who had managed to squeak ahead of Truex on pit road during his previous pit stop, emerged with the lead. By then, Custer and Suarez pitted.

With 15 laps remaining, Larson was leading by nearly three seconds over Truex and nearly seven seconds over Elliott, who was the fastest competitor on the track. Behind, Kyle Busch and Byron were in the top five followed by Hamlin, Bell, Harvick, Chastain and Briscoe. 

Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Larson continued to lead by less than five seconds over Truex, who also had the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE piloted by Elliott in his rearview mirror.

Not long after, Elliott overtook Truex’s No. 19 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota Camry to move into the runner-up spot. By then, Elliott was more than five seconds behind teammate Larson.

With five laps remaining, Larson maintained an advantage of approximately five seconds over teammate Elliott while Truex was trailing by more than seven seconds.

Two laps later, Larson’s advantage was cut down to more than three seconds as Elliott continued to close in on his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. By then, the leaders were mired in lapped traffic.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Larson was leading by less than three seconds over teammate Elliott, who was given a final opportunity to win the event after starting at the rear of the field.

Through the first turn, the Esses, the bus stop and the final corners, Larson was able to streak across the finish line and grab the win and the checkered flag by more than two seconds over teammate Elliott.

In addition to claiming his fifth victory of the season, Larson captured his 11th NASCAR Cup Series career win and his second on a road course after winning at Sonoma Raceway in June. Larson also recorded the 10th Cup victory of the season for Hendrick Motorsports. With that, Larson, who signed a two-year contract extension to remain at Hendrick Motorsports nearly a month ago, drew himself into a tie with fifth-place finisher Denny Hamlin for the lead in the regular-season standings.

“Yeah, it’s awesome,” Larson said on NBCSN. “I mean, it really just shows how good the organization is, all the people that they’ve assembled at their race shop, all the men and women. All four of us could not be getting these wins like we have been without them. Thanks to them, and thanks to everybody else I get to race for. Chase was already catching me pretty quick, even with me being in open track, so when I caught those, I think, four cars and got into [Anthony Alfredo] right here, I thought I would look at my mirror and [Elliott] would be right on me, but thankfully had a comfortable enough gap to where I could make a mistake like that…Thanks for everything you guys do for me, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, Rick Hendrick, Jeff Gordon, [crew chief] Cliff Daniels, this whole 5 bunch. Another amazing car. I could tell from about Lap 3 after I stopped making a bunch of mistakes that we were going to have a car that could win today.”

Elliott, who started at the rear of the field following a pre-race technical issue that left his crew chief Alan Gustafson suspended for the remainder of the day, settled in second place as he came one spot short in winning at The Glen for a third consecutive time.

“I made too many mistakes to get the win, unfortunately, and made it too late in the race,” Elliott said. “Super proud of our team. Been kind of an uphill battle all day, but everybody was just super prepared coming into the day, and our NAPA team just did a really good job of fighting it. If I hadn’t have let them down there, I think we would have had a shot at it, but congrats to Kyle [Larson, race winner], Cliff, all the guys on the No. 5 [team]. Happy for everybody at HMS. Hendrick Motorsports has been working extremely hard, and not only do the people deserve to win, but Mr. [Rick] Hendrick deserves to win. Really happy for him, and I’ll try to clean some things up and make less mistakes next time. Maybe it’ll work out.”

Behind, Truex came home in third place while teammates Kyle Busch and Hamlin finished in the top five.

Byron finished in sixth followed by Bell, Harvick, Briscoe and Reddick.

Twenty-five of the 37 competitors in the field finished on the lead lap, with James Davison being the only competitor to retire due to electrical issues.

There were seven lead changes for six different leaders. The race featured four cautions for six laps. 

With three races remaining until the 2021 Cup Playoffs commences, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson are tied for the lead for the regular-season lead. Currently, 13 competitors (Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, William Byron, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell and Michael McDowell) are guaranteed Playoff spots based on winning at least once throughout the regular season. Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Tyler Reddick continue to occupy the remaining three vacant spots to the Playoffs as winless competitors, with Reddick ahead by 15 points over teammate Austin Dillon, 135 over Chris Buescher, 147 over Matt DiBenedetto, 148 over Ross Chastain, 188 over Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 190 over Bubba Wallace, 219 over Chase Briscoe and 223 over Daniel Suarez.


1. Kyle Larson, 27 laps led

2. Chase Elliott

3. Martin Truex Jr., 34 laps led, Stage 2 winner

4. Kyle Busch

5. Denny Hamlin, six laps led

6. William Byron

7. Christopher Bell

8. Kevin Harvick

9. Chase Briscoe

10. Tyler Reddick

11. Matt DiBenedetto

12. Ross Chastain

13. Kurt Busch, two laps led

14. Ryan Blaney

15. Austin Dillon

16. Aric Almirola

17. Chris Buescher

18. Cole Custer

19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., one lap led

20. Alex Bowman

21. Michael McDowell

22. Joey Logano, 11 laps, Stage 1 winner

23. Bubba Wallace

24. Corey LaJoie

25. Ryan Newman

26. Anthony Alfredo, one lap down

27. Erik Jones, one lap down

28. Ryan Preece, one lap down

29. Justin Haley, one lap down

30. Kyle Tilley, one lap down

31. Daniel Suarez, two laps down

32. Quin Houff, two laps down

33. Josh Bilicki, two laps down

34. RC Enerson, two laps down

35. Brad Keselowski, three laps down, nine laps led

36. Garrett Smithley, three laps down

37. James Davison – OUT, Electrical

Next on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the series’ inaugural event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course layout, which will occur on Sunday, August 15, at 1 p.m. ET on NBC. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Best New Zealand Online Casinos and Leaf Racewear Safety Equipment Giveaway

Rocketplay Casino

10 deposit casinos

Best Betting Sites in Canada

Latest articles