Late caution fuels Kyle Larson to Xfinity win in Las Vegas

Kyle Larson’s first Xfinity Series victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was shaping up to be an interesting finish on Saturday.

A late caution flag removed most of the drama.

Larson, who led a race-high 142 laps at the 22nd annual Boyd Gaming 300, needed to decide whether he could afford to refuel as the race wound down or try to make it to the finish line without a pit stop. The flag made the decision for him, and after the restart with 11 laps left, Larson won his ninth Xfinity race by a margin of 0.881 seconds.

SHORT DESCRIPTION (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

“If it was going to go green at the end there, I was going to be a little short on fuel, so I decided to start saving as much fuel as I could,” said Larson, who will start fifth in Sunday’s Cup Series race. “I felt like we would be good to get to the checkered, but we had the caution. (I’m) just really thrilled with how fast our car was all weekend.”

Larson, driving his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, burned plenty of fuel leading most of the race. He also won the second stage and finished second in the first stage behind rookie Christopher Bell.

“That first stage was some of the most fun I’ve had in a stock car. Kyle, man, he races me hard,” said Bell, who finished second. “If I was going to run second to anyone, I’m glad it was Kyle Larson.”

The late caution allowed Larson to make another pit stop and made his fuel issue a moot point, helping him become the 10th driver in 10 years to win an Xfinity race at LVMS. Justin Allgaier, Ryan Blaney and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five, with Las Vegas native Spencer Gallagher placing 10th.

Gallagher, 28, picked up his second top-10 finish in three races after finishing sixth in the Xfinity season opener at Daytona.

“Our Allegiant Chevy had great speed, and we made great adjustments on the pit stops,” Gallagher said. “It’s a real momentum builder. It’s my best showing in Las Vegas.”

Gallagher was four spots better than fellow Las Vegas native Kyle Busch, who had a disappointing day after winning his 50th Truck Series race Friday. Busch, who will complete his weekend tripleheader Sunday, was fourth after the first stage, but got hurt by an improper fueling penalty with 33 laps left.

“We were just off the whole race,” Busch said. “Our Interstate Batteries Camry was just way too loose, and we burned the rear tires off it halfway through every run. We’ll go back and talk about it and try to figure out what went wrong.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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