Kyle Larson had a promising day going during the Cheez-It 335 at Watkins Glen – till the final corner on the last lap.
He started second and was poised for a solid finish until disaster struck. Larson’s potential top five finish was ruined in a matter of seconds after A.J. Allmendinger spun him out coming into turn 7. Rather than finishing fourth, Larson finished 29th.
“We were about a 10th place car, and we were going to get a top five day out it,” Larson said. “We were running sixth coming to turn 7; the No. 47 was behind me. He is always aggressive. I figured he would be smart. Obviously, the No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr) was spinning in front of us. That is a free spot for both of us, and he just dumped me.”
Allmendinger was not pleased with himself after the race, apologizing to Larson, saying he did not mean to turn him on purpose.
“The No. 78 started to spin, and Kyle and I were racing for fifth there,” he said. “He defended on the inside, which he should have. And I tried to cut under him off of the last corner, and No. 78 was coming back across the race track. I was under him. He turned. And I just clipped him.”
The apology didn’t mean anything to Larson, who made it clear that payback would be coming.
“He wrecked me earlier in the year at Vegas,” Larson said. “He has ran me hard, but we always race pretty well, but today was flat out stupid. It just sucks they are going to have start building some more race cars because he has got a few coming.”
Following his first finish outside the top-20 since Kansas, Larson is 16th in the NASCAR Chase for the Championship Sprint Cup Series standings, only eight points ahead of Trevor Bayne for the last spot. It’s worth noting if Chris Buescher crack the top-30 in points, Larson will drop outside of the Chase to 17th due to Buescher having a win this year. Notably, the Chip Ganassi team lost 25 points because of the spin.
Despite Sunday’s disappointment, the No. 42 team should not hit the panic button just yet as with only four races to go before the Chase starts it is still possible for the team to make it in on points.
Larson is still searching for his first win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and could get it in the next two races Bristol and Michigan. His best finish at Bristol is seventh, and his best finish at Michigan came back in June when he finished third.
Emily Spink is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist.
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