By Tom Zulewski
Iron County Today
LAS VEGAS — It was a blast from their dirt racing past.
For all of the laps he led in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson had a rear-view mirror full of Christopher Bell in the final seven trips around the 1.5-mile oval.
As he did from the start, Larson had enough left to hold on at the finish, beating Bell by almost nine-tenths of a second to win the XFINITY Series race on a blustery day with winds of more than 25 mph. It was Larson’s ninth career win in NASCAR’s No. 2 series, and it was in doubt as the fuel cell of the No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet started running low.
But when the race’s sixth and final caution came out with nine laps remaining, it was the right break at the right time for Larson, who led 142 of the 200 laps.
“I started saving fuel as much as I could, but I thought we could get to the checkered flag,” said Larson, who finished behind Bell at the end of Stage 1. “I lost a spot on pit road, but got a couple of good pushes to get to the lead and maintain it.”
On the final restart, Bell was able to get his No. 20 Rheem Toyota to Larson’s back bumper briefly, but couldn’t get close enough to complete a pass. Bell started on the pole for the second straight week (183.686 mph) and picked up his second top-5 finish after a third-place run at Atlanta.
“It was a lot of fun. That first stage was some of the most fun I’ve had in a stock car,” Bell said. “Kyle has always raced me hard on the dirt, and now on pavement. If I’m gonna run second to anyone, I’m glad it was Kyle Larson.”
Crew chief Mike Shiplett said pit road problems in the early part of the race only added to the challenge of getting Larson to Victory Lane.
“We were fighting a tight condition and tried working on it with air pressure so we didn’t lose any time on the pit stops,” Shiplett said. “With one less person on pit road, it takes a little longer to make adjustments.”
Even after having the jackman fall on one stop and a tire get stuck on another, the final stop made all the difference.
“We felt if we got the car right for Kyle, he’d be able to do the rest,” Shiplett said.
Justin Allgaier finished third, Ryan Blaney was fourth, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five. The winning average speed was 131.884 mph, and the six cautions in the race took up 29 laps.
CAPTION–Kyle Larson shares the microphone with his son, Owen, as crew chief Mike Shiplett looks on following Larson’s win in the XFINITY Series Boyd Gaming 300 on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.