In his second-career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) start at Watkins Glen International, Kyle Larson and his Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team battled damage, penalties and debris before crossing the finish line in 15th position. In his track debut last season, Larson blew a motor early in the race; but this time around, he had hoped for a better outcome. Utilizing both practice sessions to get reacquainted with the 2.45-mile road course, the 21-year old barely missed advancing to the final round of knockout qualifying, ultimately placing the No. 42 Cartwheel by Target Chevrolet in the 13th position for the 82-lap race. Shortly after the green flag waved at the Upstate New York facility, the first caution flag waved and crew chief Scott Zipadelli called Larson to pit road for four tires, fuel and a slight chassis adjustment to tighten up the Cartwheel Chevy. Despite a solid stop, Larson received a penalty for speeding as he exited pit road and was forced to drop to the tail of the field. On lap 20, Zipadelli and spotter Derek Kneeland noticed the No. 42 car had a hole in the nose, possibly from hitting a curb on the fast, twisting course. Not taking a chance, Zipadelli called for a quick green-flag stop to tape the damage and refuel. Larson remained on the course during the next three back-to-back cautions and moved into the ninth position before racing resumed on lap 43. Sticking to his strategy, Zipadelli called for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment on lap 52. Despite another solid stop by the TSM team, Larson was slammed with another speeding penalty, this time entering pit road, and was forced to serve a pass-through penalty. Staying focused on the big picture, Larson remained on course when the fifth caution flag waved on lap 60, and once again jumped into the top 10 as competitors made their way to pit road. Just as things started to look up for the No. 42 team, Larson radioed to Zipadelli that his water temperature had skyrocketed to 300 degrees. Not having a choice, Zipadelli called Larson back to pit road on lap 68, cleaning debris from the grille and adding another splash of Sunoco fuel. The unscheduled stop took the No. 42 Cartwheel car to 23rd position with less than 15 laps to go. Despite a solid effort by all, Larson and his TSM team claimed a hard-fought 15th-place finish at The Glen.
Kyle Larson on Racing at Watkins Glen International:
"That was rough out there today. It seemed like every time we'd catch a break, something would set us back one step further. My guys did a great job in the pits today; I can't thank them enough. Those two speeding penalties just killed our shot, and I take full responsibility. That's just road-course racing; I'll get the hang of it as I get more experience. I guess a 15th-place finish was pretty good for a day like today."