Kyle Larson Beats Chase Elliott at Watkins Glen

Kyle Larson conquered the competition at Watkins Glen, picking up win No. 5 of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Despite a hard charge from 10 seconds back, Chase Elliott ran out of time to catch Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson, who claimed his fifth NASCAR Cup Series win of the 2021 season at Watkins Glen International.

“It really just shows how good the organization is, all the people that they’ve assembled at their race shop, all the men and women,” Larson said.

“All four of us could not be getting these wins like we have been without them. Thanks to them, and thanks to everybody else I get to race for.”

Starting the final stage, Kyle Larson engaged in a fierce battle with Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell for the lead. Unfortunately, Bell squeezed Larson heading down into Turn 1, which sent the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota spinning. This left Truex and Larson up front fighting for the top spot.

However, Truex was no match for the No. 5 Chevrolet as Kyle Larson set sail for the remainder of the race. Luckily, the laps ran out for Yung Money, who would have likely faced a challenge from Elliott if there was a late-race caution. Elliott was not a factor for most of the day but put together a strong drive at the end to finish in the runner-up position.

“I made too many mistakes to get the win, unfortunately, and made it too late in the race,” Elliott said.

“Super proud of our team. Been kind of an uphill battle all day, but everybody was just super prepared coming into the day, and our NAPA team just did a really good job of fighting it.”

NASCAR’s road course king came up a spot short of winning three-in-a-row at Watkins Glen. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Bell rallied back from the contact with Larson to salvage a seventh-place result. Following the race, Larson apologized and took full responsibility for the incident.

“I was inside but I wasn’t inside enough, and I didn’t — I needed to have the nose a few feet further ahead, and the angles just caught there in the middle and I ended up turning him,” Larson said.

Stage 2

Kicking off Stage 2, differing strategies shook up the running order, with some drivers pitting before the end of Stage 1 and others pitting during the stage break. Stage 1 winner Joey Logano restarted midpack, while those who already pitted cycled to the front.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the control car on the restart, but his lead was short-lived as Martin Truex Jr. moved around Stenhouse quickly to take the lead and never looked back to cruise to a Stage 2 victory.

Chase Elliott had a quiet second stage, following an eighth-place Stage 1 result. But the other driver starting at the rear, Christopher Bell, was able to finish second in Stage 2.

Stage 2 Results: Truex Jr., Bell, Harvick, Larson, Briscoe, Chastain, DiBenedetto, Hamlin, Logano, Ky. Busch.

Stage 1

Joey Logano took advantage of his teammate’s misfortune to secure the lead en route to a Stage 1 win. Logano had to defend a challenge from Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin. Larson tried to make a move but could not complete the pass.

Both Richard Childress Racing cars earned stage points, with Tyler Reddick finishing fourth and Austin Dillon in ninth. Every single point moving forward is critical because Aric Almirola’s surprise win at New Hampshire put one RCR car on the bubble and the other outside of the playoff picture.

Reddick entered Watkins Glen five points ahead of teammate Dillon, maintaining the 16th and final spot in the playoffs.

Brad Keselowski got off to a decent start from pole position, leading the first 10 laps until the No. 2 Team Penske Ford Mustang spun out of the lead. Luckily, with the field starting to spread out, Keselowski only fell to sixth right before the competition caution.

He restarted 21st after pitting. Keselowski appeared to be fighting some issues with the brakes because he went for another spin in the closing laps of Stage 1. Nevertheless, he finished the opening stage in 11th.

After being forced to restart the race at the rear, due to failing pre-race inspection, Chase Elliott rallied through the field to finish eighth in the opening stage.

Stage 1 Results: Logano, Larson, Hamlin, Reddick, Byron, Ky. Busch, Bowman, Elliott, Dillon, Jones.

Early Ejection

A couple of hours before the race, two road course-winning teams this season were handed L1-Level penalties. Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet and Christopher Bell’s No. 20 Toyota failed pre-race inspection for violating Rules 20.4.8.3.a and 20.4.8.3.b (rear-window air deflectors).

As a result, crew chiefs Alan Gustafson (No. 9) and Adam Stevens (No. 20 Toyota) were ejected from Watkins Glen, including a loss of 10 driver and owner points. Plus, a $25,000 fine and both drivers had to drop to the rear at the start.

Engineer Tom Gray replaced Gustafson on top of the pit box as Elliott’s crew chief, while car chief Chris Sherwood called the shots for Bell, replacing Stevens.

Entering the day, Elliott had two road course wins in 2021 at Circuit of the Americas and Road America. Bell won the second race of the season at the Daytona Road Course.

Brad Goes Bowling At The Glen

It is safe to say that Brad Keselowski had a very long day in the office. Keselowski struggled with brake issues all race long, spinning a total of three times.

Unfortunately, one of those spins included a strike, taking out his teammate Joey Logano as both drivers went around for a spin entering Turn 1.

Both drivers had frustrating finishes, with Logano bringing it home 22nd. Keselowski finished 35th, three laps down.

Big Day For Briscoe

Chase Briscoe enjoyed a strong race in upstate New York, scoring stage points and earning a ninth-place result. The driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang has looked particularly strong on road courses in his rookie season in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Briscoe’s ninth-place finish at Watkins Glen is his third top-10 (COTA and Road America) on road courses this year. The Indiana native is carrying some momentum into his home race next weekend at the IMS Road Course.

“We know we’ve got to get it better if we’re gonna win one of these and just from a balance standpoint I’ve still got to get better too,” Briscoe said.

“We’ll go on to Indy and back home next week. Obviously, that one is super special, so we’ll try to capitalize there.”

He won last year’s Xfinity race on the same circuit, in an epic finish holding off Austin Cindric and AJ Allmendinger.

NASCAR-IndyCar IMS Doubleheader

After winning last year’s Xfinity race, Chase Briscoe will look to do one better and win at home in the NASCAR Cup Series at Indy next weekend. (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire)

Next weekend, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hosting a busy weekend of racing, with a NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader on the IMS Road Course.

On Saturday, Aug. 14, the NTT IndyCar Series (12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and NASCAR Xfinity Series (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN) will share the track. Then, after racing on the 2.5-mile oval since the inaugural 1994 Brickyard 400, the NASCAR Cup Series (1 p.m. ET, NBC) races on the road course for the first time on Sunday, Aug. 15.

Go Bowling at The Glen Top-10 Results: Larson, Elliott, Truex Jr., Ky. Busch, Hamlin, Byron, Bell, Harvick, Briscoe, Reddick.

Kobe Lambeth

My name is Kobe Lambeth and I am a recent graduate of UNC Charlotte. I received my undergraduate degree in Communication Studies (mass media concentration), with a double minor in Journalism and American Studies. Since 2007, I have developed a strong passion for motorsports. My childhood dream is to work in the motorsports industry for a long time.

In June 2017, my journey began as a freelance journalist and social media specialist for RockinghamNow, covering high school sports and leading a Twitter project. We wanted to provide expanded coverage of high school football throughout the local community. With the use of Twitter, we had a goal of significantly increasing the number of followers on multiple accounts.

At The Podium Finish, my goal is to provide professional motorsports coverage, focusing on series such as NASCAR, IndyCar and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. I'm also the Multimedia Producer at GRID Network.

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