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This NASCAR Finish Is Stock Car Racing at Its Best

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This NASCAR Finish Is Stock Car Racing at Its BestIcon Sportswire - Getty Images

The historic Darlington Raceway is famous for three things: uneven corners that allow drivers to use multiple grooves over all four turns, a sand-worn track surface that wears down tires, and a high line that comes perilously close to the wall on corner exits. When Kyle Larson found himself chasing down John Hunter Nemechek at the end of yesterday's second-tier Xfinity Series race, all three combined to create something incredible.

Larson trailed Nemechek heading into turns 1 and 2, where he was able to take a different angle into the corner to carry momentum in a different way and catch Nemechek inside the turn. With some light contact from the side, Nemechek's car was unsettled enough that Larson could pull to the inside and go into turn 3 side by side with the leader. the two touched as they turned in, then Nemechek caught the rear bumper of Larson with a slight tap from the front bumper of his car. Larson, somehow, bounced slightly off the wall without losing significant momentum as he crossed back over to take the lead. Nemechek makes one last-ditch effort to slow Larson on exit, but Larson turns in and sends Nemechek spinning as he goes on to win.

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The result itself is nothing spectacular, a NASCAR Cup Series champion should win every Xfinity Series race they enter. The way Larson actually got it done, with a perfect combination of patience, risk-taking, and escalating contact to hold on, are the marks of impressive skill. If Nemechek or Larson make a mistake anywhere before the exit of the final corner, one or both wreck and the race ends under yellow; instead, they are able to control every choice even as they bounce off walls and each other until there is none left but to try to hit the other car side-to-side on corner exit and recreate the famous Ricky Craven-Kurt Busch finish at this same track.

John Hunter Nemechek has two wins this season and currently leads the Xfinity Series championship. Larson, who won in the Cup Series just last weekend, will be taking on Darlington in that series later today.

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