Kyle Larson wins rain-shortened Xfinity race at Pocono
Long Pond, Pa. — Kyle Larson needed rain in Pocono to snap a victory drought.
Larson had the lead when the Xfinity Series race was red-flagged and won at Pocono Raceway for his first NASCAR victory of the season.
“I’m happy with it,” Larson said. “Now that the race is over and we’ve got the win, it can clear out (Sunday) so we can race in the Cup race.”
Both Sprint Cup practices sessions were wiped out Friday and rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast Sunday around the time of the scheduled Cup race.
But the rain Saturday came at an opportune time for the 23-year-old Larson.
“These rain races, a lot of it is luck,” he said. “I haven’t had a lot of luck this year, or my NASCAR career. Hopefully, the luck has turned and maybe we can start winning some Cup races, as well.”
Driving for owner Chip Ganassi, Larson led when the rain hit 53 laps into the scheduled 100-lap race and the race was called 1 hour, 35 minutes after the red flag came out. One of the most promising young drivers in NASCAR, Larson had come close this season to victory lane in both Sprint Cup — most notably at Dover — and the second-tier Xfinity Series but failed to win.
Thanks to some rain, he has his fourth career Xfinity win in 82 starts and first since the 2015 season finale at Homestead. Larson has yet to ever win at Sprint Cup.
“I didn’t really think I’d win today but it all worked out,” he said.
Xfinity raced Saturday for the first time at Pocono. The track has long held two Sprint Cup race weekends and added the Truck Series in 2010. The 250-miler is the first second-tier race on a track that has hosted NASCAR-sanctioned events since 1974.
“Our fans have been asking for it for a long time,” track President Brandon Igdalsky said.
Larson called it “pretty cool” he won the inaugural race at Pocono.
Erik Jones, Ty Dillon, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.
“I thought by far we had one of the best cars in the field,” Jones said. “Just not enough time to get back into the lead and have a shot at it. It’s nice to know we’re that fast.”
The Xfinity debut at Pocono came with some sparks — on and off the track. A jet dryer on the track briefly caught fire before it sped off and caused any damage to the surface. In the garage, Ryan Sieg and Ryan Reed briefly scuffled after their cars connected during the race.
Daniel Suarez holds an 11-point lead over Elliott Sadler in the point standings.
The track held a moment of silence for Muhammad Ali before the race.