DARLINGTON, S.C. — Kyle Larson rallied from 30th starting the final stage, bumping John Hunter Nemechek coming out of the final turn as the two raced to the finish line to win the Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway on Saturday.
Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, was making his first start of the season in the Triple A Series. It looked like his chance at a win ended when he was assessed a pit-road speeding penalty that dropped him to 30th before the final stretch.
But there was Larson alongside Nemechek at the end to pull out his 14th career Xfinity victory.
“We had a really, really good car the whole race,” Larson said. “We were kind of bouncing off each other a little bit. I’m not sure what happened into [Turn] 3, but it seemed like he tried to get in behind me to shove me in the corner.
“He kind of hooked me right and hit the wall,” Larson continued. “What an exciting race there.”
Larson took the lead entering Turns 3 and 4. Nemechek, who led a race-high 58 laps, attempted a final pass, but got bumped by Larson and slid away to the inside wall. Nemechek finished fifth.
Justin Allgaier, who won the previous two spring Xfinity races at Darlington, was second. Cole Custer was third and points leader Austin Hill was fourth.
Larson took the opening stage and was in line to win Stage 2 before getting caught at the end by Nemechek.
The biggest crash came after a restart on Lap 67 in Turn 4 as Sheldon Creed spun high in the turn, slid down the track and was hit by Brandon Jones hard enough that Creed’s hood flipped up against the car’s windshield.
“I mean, what happened?” series points leader Austin Hill asked his team over the radio.
Along with Creed, Hill and Jones, 15 cars were involved in the dustup, which officials said was the most in a crash in the Xfinity Series since 2019, when 15 cars were caught up at Daytona’s summer race.
Jones was in a tight spot during Creed’s slide toward the infield and had little option other than to take the hit.
“I don’t know if there was anything else I could do,” Jones said.
The four drivers including Jones who went to the infield care center were examined and released. Still, the spinning, slowed cars piling up behind Creed made Darlington look more like Talladega after the big one.