With five of 147 laps remaining, Larson had clawed his way back up to second behind Nemechek after a pit road speeding penalty left him to restart in the rear of the field at the start of the final stage.
Entering the final lap, Larson pulled alongside Nemechek exiting Turn 2 and by Turn 3 he edged ahead of Nemechek as the two collided and both hit the wall.
As both came off Turn 4 toward the start/finish line, Nemechek spun and hit the inside wall while Larson claimed the win by 1.337 seconds over Justin Allgaier.
The win is the first of the 2023 season for Larson, who was making his first start with Kaulig Racing. It’s the 14th win of his career and first in any series at Darlington.
“This feels good and it was in exciting fashion there at the end,” Larson said. “We had a really, really good car the whole race and I made a mistake and sped on pit road. We knew we’d have time to get back to the front if we got a caution.
“We were picking cars off pretty fast, got to sixth before the last round of pit stops there. The lane selections really worked out for me. I could really work that line in (Turns) 1 and 2.”
Asked to describe the final lap, Larson said, “We were able to get to (Nemechek’s) inside and just side-draft there. We were just bouncing off each other a little bit. I’m not sure what happened in (Turn) 3, but it seemed like he was trying to get in behind me to shove me in the corner.
“He kind of hooked me right and hit the wall and just tried to stay away from him off of (Turn) 4. What an exciting race there.”
Cole Custer finished third, Austin Hill fourth and Nemechek was credited with a fifth-place finish.
Completing the top-10 were Carson Hocevar, Josh Berry, Same Mayer, Kaz Grala and Corey Heim.
On newer tires, Larson powered past leader Jeremy Clements on a restart with two of 45 laps remaining and held off Nemechek by 0.446 seconds to take the Stage 1 win.
Hill was third, Custer fourth and Mayer rounded out the top five.
Both Riley Herbst and Sammy Smith were involved in early incidents on the track which knocked them out of contention for the win.
Nemechek ran down Larson on the final of 45 laps and edged him by 0.611 seconds to take the Stage 2 win.
Allgaier rallied from a pit road speeding penalty to finish third, Mayer was fourth and Custer completed the top five.
With 22 laps remaining in the stage, an 11-car wreck erupted in Turns 3 and 4 and collected several of the top contenders…
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