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Kyle Larson Survives WWTR with Top 10

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson acknowledges the fans ahead of Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR). (Photo: Josh James | The Podium Finish)

MADISON, Ill. — On the final lap of Stage 2, Kyle Larson saw a promising result derailed after tangling with Kyle Busch in Turns 1 and 2. Coming back to place 10th in Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology raceway (WWTR), Larson tallied 27 valuable points.

It was not the ideal performance for the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Before the tangle with Busch, Larson was having a middling Sunday afternoon. Finishing 11th in Stage 1, Larson was in position to finish inside the top 10 in Stage 2.

Busch and Larson made contact with each other on the frontstretch on Lap 141, resulting in both drivers spinning in Turn 1. While Larson backed his car into the Turn 1 wall, Busch made hard contact with the right side of his car, sustaining heavy, race ending damage.

After taking the damaged No. 8 Rebel Bourbon Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to the garage area, Busch, upon being evaluated and released from the infield care center, was upset with the incident.

“It looked like he got loose down the front straightaway into Turn 1,” Busch said. “He was on older tires and trying to get us for a spot. I’m not sure what that single point would mean for him, but it certainly hurt us a lot. It took that point away, as well as the others that we would get for the stage and then also the rest of the day.

“It’s very frustrating. We can’t afford days like that. The No. 8 Rebel Bourbon Camaro wasn’t what it was last year, but it was a top-10 car and we were going to finish there. Now we’re not going to finish at all.”

As for Larson, Cliff Daniels and the No. 5 team worked ardently to repair their damaged car. Slowly but surely, Larson worked his way inside the top 20 in the final stage, even taking the lead on Lap 211 before pitting on Lap 218 for two tires and fuel.

Rejoining the fray inside the top 15, it looked like Larson would break even on a frustrating afternoon at the 1.25-mile intermediate track. With Ryan Blaney running out of fuel in the final two laps, Larson recovered to finish a sneaky 10th place result.

“I’m super proud of this top-10 finish. After the spin, I wasn’t expecting that,” Larson said. “The car kind of came to life. The No. 5 Chevy team did a good job on our strategy. We were on offense there the last 25 laps or so.”

Throughout the race, Larson’s car improved when the tires heated up and resorted to running the middle to higher groove. When he battled Busch for a top 10 position, their hard racing resulted in their Turn 1 incident.

Kyle Larson

It was a hard fought top 10 result for Kyle Larson in Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR). (Photo: Josh James | The Podium Finish)

“Coming to the end of that stage, I was a little bit better than him,” Larson said to FOX NASCAR’s Bob Pockrass. “And left floored it, side drafted him and barely touched his quarter panel. I don’t know. I guess it took them off. He squeezed into me.

“And I honestly thought I had a flat going into [Turn] 1, because he turned around backwards. But I guess he just must’ve taken the air off of me and spun. I’m not sure what his side of it was. But that was my side, I guess.”

Although Busch was perturbed with Larson’s hard racing toward the end of Stage 2, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion justified the reasons for maximizing points and his position.

“I think every point is important for everybody in the field,” he said. “So, even guys at the front of the field, like myself, we’re trying to win a regular season championship. Those 15 bonus points go a long way. Every spot was important.

“I thought if I could just hang with him down the frontstretch, we could race through [Turns] 1 and 2 and maybe hang with him down the back and maybe clear him through [Turns] 3 and 4, if I could hit my marks over there, I was a little bit better than him. It’s just hard racing. I’ve got nothing bad to say about Kyle. We’ve always raced extremely well together. Nothing changes on my end.”

Still, a top 10 finish is nothing to be upset about as far as Larson is concerned in his quest to potentially win the regular season championship, barring NASCAR’s decision on granting a waiver.

“It went as well as it could, given the circumstances,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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