Larson-y: Hendrick Motorsports Star Steals Show, Wins Double-Overtime NXS Thriller in Focused Health 250

Calamity at COTA! What looked, for most of the race, like a battle between road course aces Shane van Gisbergen and AJ Allmendinger, turned into a hard-fought NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) victory for Kyle Larson in a thrilling double-overtime finish at the Focused Health 250 at Circuit of The Americas (COTA).

Kaulig Racing teammates van Gisbergen and Allmendinger battled at the front for most of the race, leading a combined 40 of the race’s 50 laps, before Allmendinger – the two-time, defending winner – got shuffled back in the pack on a late restart.

On the final restart, Austin Hill of Richard Childress Racing made contact with van Gisbergen heading into Turn One and took the lead. The three-time Supercars champion from New Zealand returned the favor in the closing corners. That contact opened the door for Larson, on fresher tires, to sneak past for his 15th career NXS win by a margin of 1.354 seconds over Hill. Van Gisbergen was assessed a 30-second penalty for cutting the course short on the final lap and was scored in 27th position when the checkered flag fell.

After the race, Larson had high praise for the talented Kiwi.

“He’s just better than us,” Larson said. “AJ’s a level up from me and he’s a level up from AJ. He kind of surprised me when he got to my right side; he kind of surprised me because I didn’t know he was there. Then when he got to my left side, he surprised me again because I thought he was still on my right. It was fun racing. He’s just way better. It’s a lot of fun when you can race around a guy who’s that good because you can learn a lot of things.”

Van Gisbergen, making just his fifth NXS start as a full-time driver, said he learned a lot throughout the race.

“We got better and better,” said van Gisbergen, who was in line to top his season-best finish of third at Atlanta. “That last restart, he (Hill) just drove through me. I guess that’s how it is here. I just stood up for myself.”

While frustrated by the finish, Hill said his team has plenty to hang their hats on.

“Obviously, I’m frustrated,” said Hill, who posted his fifth consecutive top-five finish on the season. “We’re firing on all cylinders right now. It doesn’t matter where we go. We’ve got to hold our heads up for that, but it’s really frustrating. I wanted to get my first road course win.”

Parker Kligerman of Big Machine Racing led the way at the end of Stage One, while JR Motorsports driver Brandon Jones took the green-and-white checkers to win the second stage.

Larson will look to double down Sunday with a win in the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix NASCAR Cup Series showdown, where his teammate, William Byron, will start on the pole. Green flag waves at 2:49 p.m. CT (TV: FOX, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Channel 90).


Fans can purchase tickets for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix online at

Follow Us:

Keep track of all things NASCAR at COTA by following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@NASCARatCOTA). Keep up with all the latest information on the NASCAR at COTA website and mobile app.