Larson Bowls Over The Competition At The Glen

Kyle Larson drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling at The Glen at Watkins Glen International. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling at The Glen at Watkins Glen International. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

By Joe Jennings

Kyle Larson displayed his road-racing skills as he bowled over the competition in the NASCAR Cup Series race at the legendary Watkins Glen International road-course, coming away with a margin of 2.430 seconds over teammate Chase Elliott.

Appropriately, the title sponsor was “Go Bowling at The Glen,” which depicted Larson’s dominating performance in the 90-lap race (220 miles) around the 2.45-mile road course.

Due to COVID-19 and other restrictions, the 2020 race was not held here, but the crowd returned in sizable numbers for this year’s edition. Also, the grandstands were sold out for the sixth-straight time.

The victor started fourth in the Chevrolet, giving the acclaimed Hendrick Motorsports team its eighth victory over the most recent 11 NASCAR Cup races.

The multi-talented driver won for the fifth time in 2021 and ended the day tied for the series point lead with Denny Hamlin.

“It was definitely a well-executed day,” Larson said in victory lane. “My car was great and I had a lot of grip and thanks to my team for their excellent work.” The team’s quick pit stop on the final service put him into the lead over then-leader Martin Truex, Jr. Coming in, Larson pulled nearly alongside Truex. “I out-braked him at the yellow line and got some position there. Our pit stop was good, which allowed me to get the lead and saved the race for us. It would have been hard for us to pass Martin as he was a little faster than us. Our pit crew helped a bunch.”

Elliott had to overcome major adversity when his car failed pre-race technical inspection, putting him to rear the field for the start and crew chief Alan Gustafson was ejected from the premises, the team and driver were assessed with a 10-point penalty and fined $25,000 for the transgression. It was a L1 penalty.

“I hate it as I made too many mistakes late in the race and couldn’t recover,” Elliott noted. “Wow, I had a super-fast car and I couldn’t be more proud of the team. Everyone had a tough day but we rallied after losing Alan and were prepared enough to go forward. It was something to be proud of. We will move on and see where it goes.”

Christopher Bell’s Toyota also was hit with a similar L1 penalty and their crew chief, Adam Stevens was also sent packing. Bell rallied to finish seventh.

Truex took third after leading the most laps at 34. Said the former champion, “We just didn’t have the speed on the long runs, and I burned my tires off trying to stay with them. WE are behind those two on the road-courses, as they are really fast. It was a heckuva a fight and we have to work to get better.”

Kyle Busch fought to earn fourth in his Toyota and fellow teammate Hamlin was immediately behind him.

The second five finishers were William Byron, Bell, Kevin Harvick, Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick.

With the regular season winding down, the Series moves to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next weekend for its debut on the 2.45-mile road course configuration.

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