NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Kyle Larson Beats Joey Logano In Wild Fontana Shootout

Kyle Larson emerged victorious in the Service King 300 at Auto Club Speedway after a near 20 lap duel with Joey Logano ended in a wild restart.

Logano was arguably the best driver in the field, coming back from pit road problems twice to lead the race. The first time was for speeding on pit road under the first caution, then the car fell off the jack on a lap 96 pit stop. Logano’s car sustained damage after slamming to the ground without a tire.

Logano got lucky however, as the No. 22 Ford seemed to get even faster with the damage to the sideskirt. After staying out on the second to last caution on lap 108, Logano drove past everybody else who stayed out on the restart and cruised around Kyle Busch for the lead on lap 117.

Meanwhile, Larson had gotten four tires under caution and motored his way through the field to Logano’s back bumper with around 20 laps to go.

The two engaged in a classic duel that came down to Larson having the faster car, but Logano taking advantage of Larson over driving the No. 42 Chevrolet into the wall, allowing Logano to keep up with the young California driver.

Larson passed Logano for the final time under the green flag on lap 138, but then the caution came out with just eight laps to go. Every driver in the field pitted, but Spencer Gallagher only took right side tires and beat Logano off pit road. With Larson restarting as the leader, Logano had to waste time and momentum getting around Gallagher on the inside after Larson chose to restart on the outside with just four laps to go.

Logano also lost time and momentum getting around Busch for second. By the time Logano was able to reestablish his momentum, it was the final lap and Larson was able to hold off the Cup Series veteran for the win.

It was Larson’s sixth NASCAR XFINITY Series win in his career and the first of the season. It was also Chip Ganassi Racing’s 10th victory in the series.

The race was relatively calm during the first two stages. Stage one was dominated by Logano, who led all 30 laps before a caution when Matt Tifft spun out off turn two. Just about everybody pitted under the first caution of the day, but Logano was caught speeding and had to restart at the tail end of the field. JJ Yeley stayed out and was the leader on the restart with just one lap to go in the segment, but was quickly dispatched by Busch who won the segment. Sadler was the highest finishing XFINITY Series driver. Stage two was dominated by Busch while Logano finished second after working his way up through the field.

before things started to get a bit wild on lap 96, when Erik Jones turned Paul Menard into the wall on the frontstretch while pulling an ill-timed cross-over move. Menard spent most of the race in the top 10 but had to settle for 36th. On lap 108, Cole Custer wrecked hard in turn one after contact. After being released from the Infield Care Center, Custer squarely placed the blame on Ryan Sieg. Finally, Brandon Jones wrecked coming off turn two to set up the final round of stops.

Busch led 55 laps and won the first two stages. However, a possible problem on the No. 18 Toyota took him out of the dog fight between Larson and Logano after battling with Logano during the early part of stage three. Then, on the restart, Busch was never really able to get going and settled for third.

Erik Jones finished fourth while William Byron recovered from hitting the wall multiple times to finish fifth, the highest finishing XFINITY Series driver. Darrell Wallace Jr. finished sixth for the fourth straight race and XFINITY Series points leader Elliott Sadler came home seventh.

Sadler leaves Fontana with a 17 point lead over teammate Byron. Allgaier and Ryan Reed (who finished 15th) are tied for third in points (Allgaier claims the tiebreaker by virtue of his fourth-place finish at Las Vegas).  Wallace is fifth.

The XFINITY Series takes next weekend off before returning to action at the revamped Texas Motor Speedway.  The My Bariatric Solutions 300 is scheduled for Apr. 8 and will air on FOX.

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