Darlington Raceway lived up to its Too Tough to Tame moniker as Kyle Larson battled John Hunter Nemechek for the win in the Xfinity Series Shriners Children’s 200 Saturday afternoon.
It all came down to the end of the race with Nemechek in the lead as a relentless Larson finally overtook him on the final lap to win in the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.
Larson’s victory was hard fought after a penalty for speeding on pit road relegated him to the back of the field for the final stage of the race.
I knew we were going to have time to get to the front if we had a caution,” Larson said. “We were picking off cars really fast and had some lane selections work out for me. We were just bouncing off each other a little bit. I don’t know what happened in (Turn) 3. It seemed like he (Nemechek) tried to get behind me to shove me into the corner. It kind of hooked me right, and I hit the wall, and I was trying to stay away from him and get off of (Turn) 4.”
Nemechek, who lead a race-high 57 laps, was understandably disappointed after his contact with Larson resulted in a fifth-place finish, but indicated that he will use it as motivation moving forward and learn from his mistakes.
“I feel like we both had dominant race cars at times,” Nemechek said. “I feel like him and I were definitely the class in the field as the day went on, and I don’t know if he wouldn’t have got a speeding penalty how we would’ve ended up but I felt like we were really good for portions of the run, and he was really good other portions of the run.
“So ultimately, he probably should’ve won the race. He shouldn’t have been that close to me, come the white-flag lap, but he was fast, and he’s one of the best in the sport. There’s a reason that he’s a NASCAR Cup Series champion and wins a lot. So we’ll take it and move on with it. I learned a lot today for when we come back here in the fall and just got to be a little bit smarter about it.”
Justin Allgaier finished second followed by Cole Custer in third and Austin Hill in fourth, with Nemechek rounding out the top five.
Nemechek currently leads the Xfinity Series driver standings with 424 points, followed by Austin Hill (-1), Allgaier (-53), Josh Berry (-57) and Cole Custer (-9).
Next up for the Xfinity Series is the Alsco Uniforms 300 on Saturday, May 27 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It will be televised on FS1 with radio coverage provided by PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.