By HANK KURZ Jr.
The Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. — Kyle Larson took the lead with only a handful of laps to go when race leader Ty Dillon jumped a restart and won the NASCAR Xfinity race in overtime at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday.
Larson won after barely making it to the overtime line in a two-lap dash to the finish. The line marks the spot the race leader must have crossed for the race to be deemed official, and just after Larson crossed it, a crash behind him brought out a yellow flag.
But it was an earlier restart, without five laps to go, that put him in position to cash in on the last one.
“I was happy to see that caution after that long run so we could come get tires because I felt if we could gain a spot on pit road, we could have a good shot at winning,” Larson, the points leader in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, said. “That’s what happened. We lined up third. Ty was on two [tires] and he took off a little bit before the box. I was hoping they were going to call him for the jumpstart.”
NASCAR did, and when several other drivers crashed, it made Larson the leader on the final restart with Justin Allgaier to his outside.
Allgaier had dominated all day, leading 157 laps.
“Justin got a really good start in that top lane. I thought he’d spin his tires a little bit worse than he did and he’d be a little easier through [turns] one and two, but he was able to hang my right side through one,” Larson said. “We cleared him off two and they started crashing, I guess, behind us. Had to race to the overtime line and as soon as we passed that and got the caution, … I knew I had the win.”
Allgaier got a nice consolation prize, a $100,000 bonus in the Dash for Cash, and pole-sitter Daniel Hemric finished third.
“It’s bittersweet today,” Allgaier said of winning the bonus and moving into second in the points race, but not winning the race. “I’ll be honest with you, it’s very bittersweet. I’m dejected. I won’t lie to you. Yeah, that one hurts. It’s going to hurt for a long time.”
Virginia native Elliott Sadler, the series points leader, had a late chance at victory after pitting out of sequence for tires, emerging ninth and racing his way through the field. He chopped a 1.5-second lead for Allgaier down to almost nothing before the late cautions. Sadler went onto pit road with all the leader running second, but emerged fourth and had fallen to sixth on the final green-white-checker finish.
Sadler remains the points leader over Allgaier, his teammate with JR Motorsports, by 41 points.
Dillon, who’d led just three laps before the penalty sent him to the back of the field, finished 19th.