SONOMA, Calif. – Kyle Larson and the No. 17 HendrickCars.com team came home third in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway. The result was the No. 17 team's second top-three finish in as many starts this season.
The 79-lap main event got under way with the pole sitter pulling away to a sizeable lead on his competition. Under the green flag, the driver from Elk Grove, California, remained fairly quiet on the radio as he focused on executing the tight confides of Sonoma's 1.99-mile layout. Larson led all 20 laps in the opening stage for the stage win. Due to the new rules for stage breaks on road courses, the green flag remained in the air as the second stage began. However, the caution flag was deployed on lap 22 for a car stopped on track.
During the caution, crew chief Kevin Meendering brought his driver into the pits for service. Larson would win the race off pit road but choose in the fifth position after four cars stayed out. Back under the green flag, it took the No. 17 entry less than two laps to retake the lead of the race. By the time stage two came to a close, Larson had gapped his competition by over eight seconds and picked up another stage win.
With 33 circuits remaining, the team came into pit road for a green-flag stop of four tires and fuel. Larson cycled out front to a commanding lead. The driver of the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Camaro continued to build on his lead before the caution returned on lap 62.
PHOTOS: Scenes from the No. 17 team's weekend in Sonoma
Larson made his way down pit road for four tires and fuel under the caution, returning to the track in the third spot on track as the top-two positions did not pit. On the lap 65 restart, which turned out to be the final one of the race, he maintained third after an intense bit of four-wide action which nearly resulted in contact for the No. 17. He made his way past AJ Allmendinger for the second spot, although it came along with slight damage on the left-front spitter after contact between the two front runners. Even with the damage, Larson would then promptly close right to the back bumper of race leader Aric Almirola.
With eight laps remaining, the right front of the No. 17 entry contacted a tire barrier in turn 11, causing Larson to slide up the track. The loss of time allowed for Allmendinger to take over second and Almirola to increase his lead. Larson would finish the race in third, despite leading a race-high 53 laps.
"I just got too greedy," Larson said after the race. "If you can get your rights (tires) below the rumbles into the paint, it's a lot of grip. I got it good a couple of times and I was just tucked up right behind him and clipped the tire (barrier). It knocked the wheel out of my hand and the tow was off after that.
"Really mad at myself right now but I'm proud of the car that they (No. 17 team) bought. Congrats to Aric (Almirola) too. He did a really good job out in front of me."
The No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevy is set to run two more races this season. Alex Bowman will drive the entry at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 19, while Larson returns to the car on Sept. 2 at Darlington Raceway.
The Sonoma weekend will conclude with the NASCAR Cup Series taking the track for their 110-lap main event. Tune in on Sunday, June 11 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90) to catch all the action.