FORT WORTH, Texas — Lapped traffic and then his trademark high lane were Kyle Larson‘s saving grace Saturday as he used them to beat Brad Keselowski and win the Xfinity Series’ O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway.
With a big push from Elliott Sadler in the outside lane, Larson beat Keselowski on the race’s final restart with 30 laps to go. He never allowed the No. 22 to lead another lap despite a heated duel that lasted about 10 laps.
“I love seeing Elliott Sadler behind me on restarts,” Larson told NBC Sports. “He’s really good at taking off and pushing me. He helped win Pocono earlier this year.”
Larson and Keselowski ran side-by-side multiple times before a steady stream of lapped cars kept Keselowski from getting back to Larson.
Larson used the middle to high lanes to get around lapped traffic as Keselowski stuck within half a second of his rear bumper. When he ran against the bottom line in traffic, Larson battled a “really tight” car.
“Once I got to clean air I was like, ‘Oh, man, we’re going to lose,'” Larson said. “Got to the top just in time and got rolling.”
With his second Xfinity victory of the season, Larson ensured the winless streak for Team Penske’s flagship team would last passed one calendar year. Keselowski gave the No. 22 its last win in this race last year.
After starting from the pole, Keselowski led a race- and season-high 145 laps after only leading 104 in 13 previous starts this year.
The top five was Larson, Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez.
HOW KYLE LARSON WON: He deftly navigated lapped traffic and the high lane late to keep Brad Keselowski at bay in the closing laps.
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: While never a factor for the lead, Kevin Harvick kept his No. 88 in the top five most of the day and finished third, his second top five in seven starts this season … Daniel Suarez overcame a broken alternator and replacing a battery to finish fifth.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Chase driver Blake Koch had to pit around Lap 40 for a tire beginning to shred. He was later caught speeding on pit road and finished 14th, his best finish at the track … Brandon Hightower caused the first and final cautions of the race and finished 35th … Matt DiBenedetto caused the fourth caution on Lap 133 when spun and hit the Turn 4 wall. He finished 36th.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’ve had our ups and downs throughout the year – just been kind of a weird year. Some odd circumstances took some wins away from us, some mistakes I’ve made have taken some wins away from us. It’s just kind of an odd year and it’s carried over into the Chase some too.” – Erik Jones, who leads Xfinity regulars with four wins, but none since the Chase opener at Chicagoland.
NEXT: Race at Phoenix International Raceway, 7:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 12 on NBCSN.