Kyle Larson repeats at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN--Watkins Glen International hosted the NASCAR Go Bowling at The Glen last weekend. The 2.45-mile track has been the home to NASCAR consecutively since 1986 and has seen a number of repeat winners over the years. The 2022 edition was no different with Kyle Larson and A. J. Allmendinger going one-two in both the Cup and Xfinity races.
Larson came into the weekend as the reigning winner from last year, while his teammate Chase Elliott was the favorite with WGI wins in 2019 and 2018. Elliott's status was also propelled by taking the pole for the Cup race and clinching the regular season championship with points earned on Sunday. However, a late restart would put Larson and Elliott head-to-head going into turn one, with Larson pushing on the inside to take the top position, and Elliott going wide and ending the day fourth.
"I kind of got put in a bad spot because he had the dominant position on me with the nose ahead," said Larson post-race. "Every time I was in the right lane yesterday in Xfinity, I was in the same spot, I would always get pinched into the curb. A lot of times I got passed by the time we got to turn two. I figured it was probably going to be the last restart of the weekend. I told myself if I had a nose ahead of him before we got to the braking zone, I was going to have to try my best to maintain that, not let him get a nose ahead of me, pinch my corner off, end my chance of winning. I had a good restart. I got in there hot. Did what I had to do to win. Again, I'm not necessarily proud of it, especially with a teammate, but I feel like I had to execute that way to get the win."
After the race, Elliott was seen talking with team owner Rick Hendrick and vice chairman Jeff Gordon about the race outcome. Although his media appearances did not address his visible frustration.
"Just a huge congratulations to Kyle and everybody on the 5 team," Elliott said during a pit lane interview. "Congratulations to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for getting another win. Appreciate Kelley Blue Book for being on our car this weekend."
When asked about his conversation with the team owner, he added, "Just congratulated him. Like I said, always good to see HMS win. The boss deserves all the wins, all the great things that go on with this company. Proud of that. Looking forward to next week."
The top five on Sunday included Larson, Allmendinger, Joey Logano, Elliott and Daniel Suárez.
F1 champion Kimi Räikkönen raced in his NASCAR debut at WGI, although he did not finish the race after a racing incident found him in the tire wall after the bus stop.
Rain on Sunday forced a delay to the normal 3 p.m. start time, and the race began while it was still raining with the cars using rain tires and windshield wipers. However, the rain would end shortly after the race went green and the sun helped to dry the track as laps when on.
Saturday's Xfinity race saw a top-five of Larson, Allmendinger, Sammy Smith, Noah Gragson and Kaz Grala. The race looked like it would be a battle to the checkered flag for William Byron or Ty Gibbs, but they spun racing through the bus stop. Larson was able to capitalize on their mistake and hold off Allmendinger to win.
"I got lucky...I think my only shot was if the 17 and 54 - Willy and Ty got really racing,'' said Larson after the race. "The seas parted and I was able to get through."
Friday's ARCA race also had a late lead change with the dominant Sammy Smith and challenger Taylor Gray going wide on the exit of turn one and allowing Brandon Jones to steal the win.