RPW Column: Kyle Larson Repeats For NASCAR Cup Win At Watkins Glen; Moves Teammate For Lead & Weekend Sweep, Kimi’s Run Ends Early
Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – WATKINS GLEN, NY – Kyle Larson took home his 2nd NASCAR Cup win of the season at Watkins Glen International to defend his victory, but not without controversy.
On the final restart with five to go, Elliott was the control car selecting the outside for the restart. Entering turn one, Larson outbroke teammate Chase Elliott, then locked the brakes up and slid into Elliott, leading to the #9 fading back.
“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, and end my chance of winning. 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,”
Elliott didn’t address the situation.
“Just offer congratulations and get excited for next week.,” Elliott stated. “It doesn’t matter. The day’s done. There’s nothing I can do about today now.”
Elliott led 29 laps on the day and finished in fourth. With the position, he also clinched the regular season championship and the #1 seed in the Playoffs.
This is the second time both teammates have gotten together. Back at Auto Club Speedway in February, Larson put a lousy block on Elliott while battling for the lead, sending the latter into the wall.
“As a team, we’ll work on that internally,” Jeff Andrews, president, and general manager for Hendrick Motorsports, said post-race. “But today, short-term here, we’re going to focus on the great race cars at the track; what a good job we did with that. Like I said, the regular-season points championship, as well.”
For the second straight day, AJ Allmendinger lost to Kyle Larson in a close battle to the end. Allmendinger capitalized on the final restart to go from 4th to 2nd but ultimately fell short.
“Finishing second sucks, but when it’s Kyle Larson, he’s the most badass driver on the planet. I don’t care what you put him in, he can go win, and he shows it. We were there. Yesterday we were gifted second place. Today, we earned it. It was one of the most fun racecars ever I’ve driven in my life,” Allmendinger told RPW post-race.
Former F1 Champion Kimi Raikkonen made his Cup debut but only lasted in the first half of the race. Beginning the final stage, he was behind contact from Ross Chastain to Austin Dillon at the bus stop. Dillon looped, but Raikkonen had nowhere to go in the stack-up. Contact with Loris Hezemans sent him into the tire barrier.
“I had a good line going there, and they all pushed right-hand side, but on the second part, somebody spun in front of the cars. Everybody came left and hit me on the side. There was nothing I could’ve done,” Raikkonen stated to RPW.
When Raikkonen was asked about the experience, he enjoyed everything about it.
“Everything is new, and I got the full service with the rain. I felt we had very good speed, especially after the pit stops, but maybe I was a bit too harsh on the tires on one of the sets,”
One of the most notable moments was battling Chase Elliott inside the top 10 on lap 26 and throwing a beautiful block down the back straight. Elliott would make the pass work in turn five.
While this is the only racing start for Raikkonen in 2022, he hasn’t circled out coming back to a NASCAR race.
“I have nothing against it. We’ll see.”
It was an exciting start to the afternoon as lightning delayed the green flag by around 90 minutes. The command to fire engines was given around 4:11pm. While teams started the race on rain tires in a downpour, there was an extra delay of around 30 minutes due to excessive standing water on the track. The start was a single file due to the wet conditions until the track dried before stage two, reverting to double-file restarts.
History was also made on Sunday as seven nationalities were represented in the event. Outside the United States, drivers from Mexico (Daniel Suarez), Netherlands (Loris Hezemans), Germany (Mike Rockenfeller), Russia (Daniil Kvyat), Finland (Kimi Raikkonen), and England (Kyle Tilley).
In the Playoffs, Ryan Blaney still holds the final spot, up 25 on Martin Truex Jr. with one race left to go. They are the only drivers that can race their way in via points. All other drivers that haven’t won yet must win to compete for the championship, provided they are in the top 30 in points by next week.
The regular season finale is next week at Daytona.
NASCAR Cup Series Race – 36th Annual Go Bowling at The Glen
Watkins Glen International
Watkins Glen, New York
Sunday, August 21, 2022
1. (2) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 90.
2. (6) AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 90.
3. (20) Joey Logano, Ford, 90.
4. (1) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 90.
5. (9) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 90.
6. (3) Michael McDowell, Ford, 90.
7. (5) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 90.
8. (38) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 90.
9. (7) Chris Buescher, Ford, 90.
10. (31) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 90.
11. (29) Cole Custer, Ford, 90.
12. (24) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 90.
13. (8) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 90.
14. (11) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 90.
15. (21) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 90.
16. (28) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 90.
17. (12) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 90.
18. (13) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 90.
19. (15) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 90.
20. (22) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 90.
21. (18) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 90.
22. (4) William Byron, Chevrolet, 90.
23. (25) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 90.
24. (26) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 90.
25. (14) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 90.
26. (16) Ty Gibbs(i), Toyota, 90.
27. (32) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 90.
28. (30) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 90.
29. (35) Aric Almirola, Ford, 90.
30. (33) Mike Rockenfeller, Chevrolet, 90.
31. (17) Joey Hand, Ford, 90.
32. (10) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 89.
33. (34) Loris Hezemans(i), Ford, 89.
34. (39) Cody Ware, Ford, 88.
35. (23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, Suspension, 83.
36. (36) Daniil Kvyat, Toyota, 58.
37. (27) Kimi Raikkonen, Chevrolet, Accident, 44.
38. (19) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, Rear End, 28.
39. (37) Kyle Tilley, Ford, Steering, 15.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 95.962 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 17 Mins, 52 Secs. Margin of Victory: .882 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 5 for 11 laps.
Lead Changes: 12 among 9 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Elliott 1-3;M. McDowell 4-11;T. Reddick 12-13;C. Elliott 14-15;C. Briscoe 16-22;T. Gilliland # 23-27;J. Logano 28-42;M. McDowell 43-48;C. Elliott 49-58;C. Custer 59-65;A. Dillon 66-71;C. Elliott 72-85;K. Larson 86-90.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Chase Elliott 4 times for 29 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 15 laps; Michael McDowell 2 times for 14 laps; Chase Briscoe 1 time for 7 laps; Cole Custer 1 time for 7 laps; Austin Dillon 1 time for 6 laps; Todd Gilliland # 1 time for 5 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 5 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 2 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 14,8,99,38,1,22,42,34,18,16
Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,18,34,9,42,15,17,5,41,20