The biggest story during the Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International was the battle between Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs and Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron. These two drivers appeared to be the favorites to win, but a stunning wreck took them out of contention.
The incident occurred with five laps remaining. Gibbs was on the inside of Byron as they battled for the lead entering the Bus Stop. The No. 54 got loose and spun while collecting the No. 17 in the process. The two drivers went off the track while Kyle Larson jumped into the lead ahead of AJ Allmendinger.
Larson, who started at the rear of the field due to pre-race adjustments, proceeded to hold off the road course ace in Allmendinger. He led the final five laps and captured the checkered flag. This was his first Xfinity Series win since the 2018 season when he won four times for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“My only shot really was if the 54 and 17 got racing,” Larson said after doing his celebratory burnout. “I just wanted to help William down the frontstretch, then they got battling and they got together. The seas parted and I was able to get through there.”
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Larson Added to His List of NASCAR Accomplishments
The win at Watkins Glen International was Larson’s first since the 2018 season and the 13th of his Xfinity Series career. It was also the first time that he reached Victory Lane in the series at one of NASCAR’s road courses.
All of Larson’s previous Xfinity Series wins took place on a variety of ovals. The list includes Daytona International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, and Pocono Raceway among others. However, he only had two career top-five finishes on road courses.
Larson’s two previous best finishes at a road course took place years apart. He finished third overall at Watkins Glen International in 2016 while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. His second top-five finish took place earlier in the 2022 season when he finished second behind Gibbs at Road America while driving the No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Larson Broke New Ground for JR Motorsports
The win at Watkins Glen International was major for Larson considering it helped him achieve another goal. It was equally important for JR Motorsports, the team that put the No. 88 Chevrolet on the track.
The Xfinity Series team entered the race weekend winless at Watkins Glen International. Larson snapped this streak on August 20 while becoming the first driver since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2016 to put the No. 88 in Victory Lane after an Xfinity Series race.
Along with breaking the winless streak, Larson helped JR Motorsports tie a historic mark. He secured the organization’s ninth win of the 2022 season while joining Noah Gragson (three), Justin Allgaier (three), and Josh Berry (two).
This ties the 2014 season when a variety of drivers won nine races for JR Motorsports. The list of contributors included Kevin Harvick (four), Chase Elliott (three), Regan Smith (one), and Kasey Kahne (one). Elliott went on to win the Xfinity Series championship while Smith finished second in the standings.
There are 11 races remaining in the Xfinity Series season, seven of which take place during the playoffs. There is no guarantee that one of the JR Motorsports entries will reach Victory Lane and secure the record-breaking win, but the team should continue to contend.