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LARSON WINS O’REILLY AUTO PARTS CHALLENGE
FORT WORTH, Texas (November 5, 2016) - Kyle Larson used a late-race pass on a restart to overhaul Brad Keselowski and win Saturday’s 12th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Larson passed pole-sitter Keselowski on the day’s fifth and final restart on Lap 171 of the scheduled 200 around TMS’ high-banked, 1.5-mile quad-oval and paced the final 30 laps en route to his second series victory of 2016 and fifth in 90 starts. Larson, driver of the No. 42 ENEOS Chevrolet Camaro, posted his first career win at TMS and the first in the series here for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Kevin Harvick finished third in the No. 88 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy, his 16th top-10 finish in 19 races at TMS.
Larson, who qualified fifth, posted a margin of victory was 0.385 of a second, down from 0.882 at the completion of Lap 195. At that point, Larson was running the high groove next to the wall while Keselowski tried the bottom lane on Laps 185-186 before switching to the middle of the track beginning on Lap 188. Larson, however, never flinched en route to a winning average speed of 140.992 mph.
“We should have won this race last year, but cut a tire late. Today was a fun race,” said Larson, whose previous best finish in six series starts at Texas was third. “I was just tight running the bottom on short runs. Once I got to clean air, I was loose. Hit the wall one time with five to go and flattened my right side a little bit”¦but was able to hold him off. It probably changed the aero a little bit and got me tighter. He did get close to me with two to go, just not close enough.
“Brad was definitely better than I was”¦but long runs I felt we were pretty even, maybe a tick better. Elliott Sadler gave me a heck of a push on that restart, so I owe him one.”
Keselowski had dominated the day, leading 145 laps before Larson’s race-changing pass.
“We had a really strong car and made a major stride forward,” said Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang fielded by Penske Racing. “Happy with the speed we had, but disappointed not to bring it home in the end. From what I could tell”¦whatever car got out in front with the aero (rules package) is going to control the pace. I thought we were going to be a touch faster, but without track position you lose too much grip.”
Series rookie Erik Jones finished fourth in the No. 20 GameStop/Call of Duty Toyota, the first Chaser among the Round of 8 looking to secure a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19. Chaser Daniel Suarez, Jones’ Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, finished fifth in the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota. Chaser Sadler finished sixth in the No. 1 OneMain Camaro.
Chasers Justin Allgaier, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ryan Reed finished 10th through 12th, respectively, while Blake Koch placed 14th and Brendan Gaughan was 15th.