Kyle Larson claimed victory in a thrilling race at Watkins Glen International that was delayed several times due to bad weather. It was the second straight win for the defending Nascar Cup Series champion and his 18th career win overall. In a dramatic finish, Larson made a great maneuver to pass Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott. Despite ultimately finishing the race in fourth place, Elliott finished the regular season of the Nascar championship in first place, which he secured by winning the first place after the first stage at Watkins Glen.
After the race, Larson commented on a key maneuver in the race: “I knew that was my only opportunity to get by him. I feel like our cars were pretty equal today. Had a lot of fun after the green-flag cycle trying to chase him down. Kind of burned my stuff up a little bit.” But the restarts kept me in it and kept our team in it. I’m proud of my guys. Good to get another win here at Watkins Glen and get some more bonus points going into the Playoffs, we haven’t had a lot here this year.” Elliot congratulated his teammate on the victory: “Congratulations to Kyle and everybody on the 5 team and at Hendrick Motorsports for getting the win.” AJ Allmendinger and Joey Logano finished the race ahead of Elliott.
The race at Watkins Glen was special because never before had a larger number of international drivers had the opportunity to compete in a single race within the Nascar Cup Series. At the aforementioned race, we had the opportunity to watch drivers from as many as seven countries. Most of the drivers are, quite logically, competitors from the USA. In addition, at Watkins Glen we had the opportunity to see drivers from Mexico, the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Finland and England. This data shows that Nascar is becoming more and more popular outside the American continent from year to year. Of the international drivers at Watkins Glen, the best position was achieved by Daniel Suarez, who took fifth place.
The mentioned race, which is the penultimate in the regular part of the season, was marked by the debut of Kimi Raikkonen, the former world champion in F1. His debut performance in Nascar ended in ingloriously, although at one point the Finnish driver was among the top ten ranked drivers. Kimi started the race in the 27th position, and at one point he was occupying a high eighth position. Unfortunately, he ended the race prematurely by crashing into the guard rail. Regardless of the fact that he finished the race in the mentioned way, Raikkonen is satisfied with the new experience in his already rich racing career.
“Yeah, for sure, but it’s always hard to know especially now here like what states (of the pit) stop and you know the tire life on that,” he said. “I felt that we had very good speed and especially after the pit stops but maybe I was a bit too harsh on the tires on the one of the sets.”
The other internationals didn’t make a name for themselves at Watkins Glen either. The best place was achieved by the German driver, Mike Rockenfeller, who finished the race in 30th place. Dutchman Loris Hezemans was three positions lower. At the very back with Raikkonen were his former colleague from F1, Daniel Kvyat and the Englishman Kyle Tilley.