Watkins Glen NASCAR: Larson keeps clear of Elliott for win

Kyle Larson returned to winning ways at Watkins Glen and took another step toward claiming the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series regular season title.

Watkins Glen NASCAR: Larson keeps clear of Elliott for win

Larson got ahead of Martin Truex Jr after the two made their final green-flag pitstop of Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen International and moved out to a big lead.

But over the final 15 laps Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports team-mate, Chase Elliott, began running down the leader andpassed Truex for second place on lap 82 of 90.

In the last three laps, Larson had to navigate a lot of lapped traffic in front him while keeping an eye on the approaching Elliott behind him. He took the white flag to start the final lap with a 2.8-second lead ahead of Elliott and held his nerve to take the chequered flag with by 2.4s.

The win left Larson in a tie with Denny Hamlin in the series points lead, but he would claim the regular season title – and the 15 playoff points that come with it – by tiebreaker (which is number of wins).

“Chase was already catching me pretty quick. When I caught those four (lapped) cars and got in to (Anthony Alfredo), I looked in my mirror and thought (Elliott) would be right on me but thankfully I had a comfortable-enough gap where I could make a mistake like that,” Larson said.

“I want to say big apology to Christopher Bell. I was inside but I wasn’t inside enough and I needed to have my nose a few feet further ahead and I ended up turning him. I race with him a lot. He’s probably the one guy I race with the most in all my racing. I hate I turned him like that – we’ve had incredible races together.

“Another amazing car. I knew from about lap three after I stopped making a bunch of mistakes that we had a car that could win today.”

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Patrick Savage / NKP / Motorsport Images

The win is the fifth this year for Larson – a career-best in a season – and the 11th win of his career.

Truex finished third with Kyle Busch fourth as Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Completing the top 10 were William Byron, Christopher Bell, Kevin Harvick, Chase Briscoe and Tyler Reddick.

Results

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Laps Led
1 5 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 90 2:10'57.104     27
2 9 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 90 2:10'59.534 2.430 2.430  
3 19 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 90 2:11'03.443 6.339 3.909 34
4 18 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 90 2:11'07.575 10.471 4.132  
5 11 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 90 2:11'08.046 10.942 0.471 6
6 24 United States William Byron Chevrolet 90 2:11'10.505 13.401 2.459  
7 20 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 90 2:11'20.324 23.220 9.819  
8 4 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 90 2:11'29.760 32.656 9.436  
9 14 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 90 2:11'30.640 33.536 0.880  
10 8 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 90 2:11'31.088 33.984 0.448  
11 21 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 90 2:11'32.184 35.080 1.096  
12 42 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 90 2:11'32.459 35.355 0.275  
13 1 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 90 2:11'33.957 36.853 1.498 2
14 12 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 90 2:11'40.541 43.437 6.584  
15 3 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 90 2:11'44.702 47.598 4.161  
16 10 United States Aric Almirola Ford 90 2:11'46.116 49.012 1.414  
17 17 United States Chris Buescher Ford 90 2:11'46.488 49.384 0.372  
18 41 United States Cole Custer Ford 90 2:11'47.379 50.275 0.891  
19 47 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 90 2:11'51.713 54.609 4.334 1
20 48 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 90 2:11'55.975 58.871 4.262  
21 34 United States Michael McDowell Ford 90 2:11'58.166 1'01.062 2.191  
22 22 United States Joey Logano Ford 90 2:12'00.818 1'03.714 2.652 11
23 23 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 90 2:12'00.824 1'03.720 0.006  
24 7 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 90 2:12'15.032 1'17.928 14.208  
25 6 United States Ryan Newman Ford 89 2:10'53.673 1 Lap 1 Lap  
26 38 Anthony Alfredo Ford 89 2:11'02.012 1 Lap 8.339  
27 43 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 89 2:11'03.898 1 Lap 1.886  
28 37 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 89 2:11'05.999 1 Lap 2.101  
29 77 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 89 2:11'23.761 1 Lap 17.762  
30 78 United Kingdom Kyle Tilley Ford 89 2:12'14.558 1 Lap 50.797  
31 99 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 88 2:11'00.095 2 Laps 1 Lap  
32 00 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 88 2:11'00.748 2 Laps 0.653  
33 52 United States Josh Bilicki Ford 88 2:11'05.495 2 Laps 4.747  
34 15 United States R.C. Enerson Chevrolet 88 2:11'05.779 2 Laps 0.284  
35 2 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 87 2:10'57.876 3 Laps 1 Lap 9
36 53 United States Garrett Smithley Chevrolet 87 2:11'02.779 3 Laps 4.903  
37 51 Australia James Davison Chevrolet 41 1:43'06.110 49 Laps 46 Laps  

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