By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
In a fitting end to a true Darlington slugfest, Kyle Larson won Saturday’s Shriners Children’s 200 after bouncing off the wall at the Turn 4 exit and knocking John Hunter Nemechek into the inside SAFER barrier 100 yards short of the finish line.
With the help of two opportune cautions, Larson recovered from a speeding penalty that sent him to the rear of the field for the start of the final stage.
Restarting behind race winner Nemechek for the final green-flag run with seven laps left, Larson stalked the No. 20 Toyota and charged into the lead on the final lap, as the top two cars made side-to-side contact on at least three occasions during the run to the checkers.
“We had a really, really good car the whole race, and I made a mistake on pit road,” said Larson, who was driving the No. 10 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing. “I knew we were going to have time to get to the front if we had a caution.
“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. What an exciting race there.”
The victory was Larson’s first of the season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and his first at Darlington in any of NASCAR’s top three divisions. It was Larson’s 14th career Xfinity win in his only start so far this year.
Nemechek, who beat Larson in a photo finish to win Stage 2, had to settle for fifth after the last-lap crash. Justin Allgaier claimed the runner-up spot, followed by Cole Custer, who pitted for fresh tires on Lap 137 and charged forward from 16th after the final restart on Lap 141. Austin Hill was fourth in a damaged car.
“Had a really fast race car and battling with one of the best in the sport in my opinion, Kyle Larson,” said Nemechek, who led 57 laps to Larson’s 46. “It was a really great day…
“Just disappointed a little bit from the standpoint of how that ended up there. Overall, we gave it a shot and still had a shot to win off of Turn 4. Fast car, top-five to show for it, when it probably should have been Victory Lane or second.”
Larson paced the field when Sheldon Creed washed up the track and pinched Nemechek’s…
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