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JEFFERSON, Ga. – Kyle Larson used a late-race restart to pass Cale Conley to win the Slack Auto Parts 150 in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East action at Gresham Motorsports Park on Saturday.
Larson charged out front on a Lap 145 restart as he had one final chance to drive his No. 6 Rev Racing Toyota past Conley, who had led all the way to that point, and was able to make the pass stick en route to his first K&N Pro Series East victory. The Elk Grove, Calif., driver becomes the sixth different race winner in six K&N Pro Series East events this season and third consecutive first-time winner.
Conley, who seemed destined to get his first win after starting from the pole and dominating throughout the evening, finished in what had to be a disappointing second – while Brett Moffitt came home in third. Corey LaJoie, who won in his last outing at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., finished fourth followed by Ben Kennedy in fifth. Sergio Peña, Darrell Wallace Jr., Eddie MacDonald, Andrew Smith and CJ Faison rounded out the top 10.
“We definitely didn’t have the best car on the short runs,” said Larson. “We probably were the best car on the longer runs, but we kept getting all the yellows.”
Larson’s hopes for a win almost went away, when he lost traction on a late-race restart. But he got his position back when a caution flew on the next lap and the running order reverted back to the previous lineup.
“I just got lucky there,” he said. “I spun my tires really bad and fell back to fourth and we got a red and they put me back up to second.”
With the second chance, Larson was determined not to make the same mistake twice.
“I started on the inside row and just didn’t spin my tires,” he said. “I beat him into (Turn) 1 on the restart.”
For Conley, who had held off challenges throughout the event and maintained the lead through the eight previous restarts, it was the final restart of the night where he saw his hopes slip away.
“You just can’t spin the tires,” he said. “That’s what we did. We spun the tires. That’s how you lose ‘em and that’s how I gave it away. I’m going to think about this one all the way home. This is going to be frustrating.”
With the victory, Larson earned a secured starting position for the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach on the short track at Daytona International Speedway during 2013 Speedweeks.
The win propelled Larson to within three points of Chase Elliott in the championship standings. LaJoie is six points back of Elliott in third, followed by Moffitt and Kennedy. Rounding out the top 10 in points are Brandon Gdovic, MacDonald, Bryan Ortiz, Wallace and Peña.
The Slack Auto Parts 150 will be telecast on SPEED at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 21.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East takes a week off before heading to Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., on Saturday, June 23 for the Visit Hampton VA 175.
Kyle Larson en route to his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory. Kevin Lyles/NASCAR