Larson wins Xfinity race for his first Dover victory

DOVER — Kyle Larson’s lead foot not only helped him keep the competition behind him at Dover International Speedway on Saturday afternoon, it also helped him kick in the gate to victory lane.

Larson dominated the 36th annual OneMain Financial 200 Xfinity Series race at Dover, including the final of the three stages that made up the event, to record his first victory at the Monster Mile.

“I’ve had some good runs here at Dover and I’ve had some bad ones, too. To get a win is really, really cool,” said Larson, who started from the pole position and led three times for 137 laps.

Larson had to keep an eye on Ryan Blaney over the final circuits around the one-mile concrete oval, but he was able to hold him off by 1.173 seconds at the checkered flag.

He became the sixth different winner in the last six Xfinity races at Dover.

Driver of the #42 Parker Store Chevrolet, Kyle Larson wins the The 36th Annual OneMain Financial 200 was held at Dover International Speedway on Saturday June 3rd in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

“I had a blast,” Larson added. “(Ryan) Blaney was about as equal as me but we just got a better start there after that second stage than he did.”

Daniel Suarez overcame a flat tire that put him two laps down early in the race to finish third, followed by rookie Cole Custer and Ryan Reed.

Kyle Larson in the #42 Parker Store Chevrolet exits his car in Victory Lane after winning The 36th Annual OneMain Financial 200 that was held at Dover International Speedway on Saturday June 3rd in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

The top three finishers are all regulars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and will compete in today’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism race at the Monster Mile.

Blaney began the final restart following a caution on lap 141 in 10th position behind Larson, who was in sixth place, but couldn’t get through the traffic quick enough to track him down.

Larson maneuvered quickly through cars that were on older tires and passed Suarez for the lead on the inside in the second turn with 53 laps to go.

The 36th Annual OneMain Financial 200 was held at Dover International Speedway on Saturday June 3rd in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

It was clear ailing for Larson from that point on.

“(Larson) was about three rows ahead of us,” Blaney said. “I thought our two cars we’re the best cars by far. We just couldn’t run him down. It was a struggle to get through (traffic).

Austin Dillons pit crew works on the side of the #2 car after hitting the wall as The 36th Annual OneMain Financial 200 was held at Dover International Speedway on Saturday June 3rd in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

“I think we’re really close, it’s just a matter of closing up that little gap. Obviously, we want to be winning races, we’ve just got to put the work in to do that.”

Larson, who started from the pole position, led every single lap to capture the 60-lap first stage. Blaney made a charge to pass him on the lap 59 but couldn’t get around.

Darrell Wallace Jr. managed to climb from his 18th starting position and passed Blaney for the lead on the back straightaway following a restart on lap 116 and came out on top of the second 60-lap stage, setting up the final 80-lap run for the checkered flag.

Larson, Blaney, Wallace and other front-runners were forced to start the final stage from 10th place on back because several drivers pitted near the end of the second stage and stayed out during the yellow between stages.

It didn’t take long for Larson to knife his way back into the lead.

#39 Ryan Seig spins out in the 9th lap as The 36th Annual OneMain Financial 200 was held at Dover International Speedway on Saturday June 3rd in Dover.
(Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

Larson has shown a penchant at getting around the high banks of the Monster Mile.

In his five previous Xfinity starts at Dover he had recorded five top-10 finishes with an average finish of 5.8.

“It’s a really special day. It was a heck of a race,” said Larson, who notched his third Xfinity victory of the season and eighth of his career. “The whole pit crew, everyone at the shop, did an excellent job at preparing this car.”

Rookie William Byron wound up sixth and took home a $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus as the top driver among four Xfinity Series regulars.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.