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Kyle Larson Becomes A Sprint Cup Race Winner

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 28 2016
Kyle Larson drove to his first Sprint Cup Series victory on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

Kyle Larson drove to his first Sprint Cup Series victory on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Kyle Larson has been one of those “drivers to watch” ever since becoming a full-timer in Sprint Cup in 2014. On Sunday, Larson finally made it to Victory Lane as he held off rookie Chase Elliott to win at Michigan International Speedway.

sprint-logo-08The win was the first for a Chip Ganassi Racing car since 2013, and it put Larson and his team into the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoffs.

The victory came in Larson’s 99th start and it came accompanied by watery eyes.

“Man, I was tearing up that whole last few laps because I could just feel it, it was finally going to be it,” Larson said.

Ganassi, whose open-wheel teams have won IndyCar championships and the Indy 500, was almost as happy as his driver. Earning a Chase berth will do that, apparently.

“Really, really big,” the team owner said of earning the berth. “We’ve been on the cusp for so many years. We got Jamie (McMurray) in there last year and now getting Kyle, we couldn’t be happier. I’m kind of speechless to tell you the truth.”

Elliott finished second 1.4 seconds behind in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He said a mistake on the final restart of the day, which came with nine laps to go and with him in the lead, cost him his first Cup win.

“Just made another mistake,” Elliott, the 20-year-old son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, said. “I let Kyle get a better start on me and I spun the tires and didn’t do my job right. It’s about as simple as that. When the tires are spinning you aren’t going forward and that’s what I was doing.”

Brad Keselowski of Team Penske finished third in a Ford and rookie Ryan Blaney was fourth in the Wood Brothers Ford.

Keselowski thought he had a chance for a victory as he watched the final restart develop in front of him.

 “It was a typical crazy restart at Michigan here at the end,” the Michigan native said. “It is about getting a good launch and push. It looked like Kyle got a good launch and maybe something happened to the 24. I was able to give him a push, a really hard push, and got sideways there and was able to get the lead. The 42 just drove away. Those two cars, the 42 and 24 were pretty close. They both had a lot of speed. We were right there though, just a notch behind.”

Blaney, also looking for his first Cup win, sounded satisfied with his showing.

“We were up towards the front most of the day and some runs were better than others,” he said. “It is kind of a decent day for us. It is nothing to complain about. I thought we were in a decent spot there that last restart and it didn’t work out great. Congrats to Larson. That is cool to see a rookie winning. These are the days we need. These are the days this team deserves. We always want to win in Ford’s backyard but we will go on to Darlington and try to get it done there.”

Pole-sitter Joey Logano of Penske led the first 24 laps but lost it to Kevin Harvick on a restart on Lap 25. Havick then held the lead until he was passed by Martin Truex Jr. on Lap 58.

Truex held the lead until he had a pitting miscue during green flag stops at around the Lap 65 mark.

“We were never the same after that pit stop,” said Truex, who was credited with a 20th-place finish. “We made a number of unscheduled stops to try to fix the problem, but the damage was just too severe to overcome.”

“We were never the same after that pit stop,” said Truex, who was credited with a 20th-place finish. “We made a number of unscheduled stops to try to fix the problem, but the damage was just too severe to overcome.”

“We were never the same after that pit stop,” said Truex, who was credited with a 20th-place finish. “We made a number of unscheduled stops to try to fix the problem, but the damage was just too severe to overcome.”

After pitting cycled through, Jimmie Johnson have moved to the lead.

On the next green flag stops, which began on Lap 108, it was Johnson’s turn to lose the lead on a miscue as his fueler had a hard time getting the second can into the tank. Emerging with the lead after pitting was Chase Elliott.

Elliott held the lead until losing it to Larson on a Lap 126 restart. Elliott took the lead back, however, during green flag stops with 45 laps to go in the 200-lap race when he came out of the pits just ahead of Larson.

With 13 laps to go, and with Elliott more than 2 seconds ahead of second-place Larson, the fourth caution of the day was called.

On  the restart, which came with nine laps to go, Larson eased into the lead when Elliott spun his tires a little worse than Larson did his.

“We both spun our tires really bad,” Larson said. “And, the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) pushed me really good. He could have probably pulled underneath me and went by. But he stayed with me and got me the lead. So, thanks to him. I had a lot of fun.”

Once back out front, Larson cruised to the win.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Pure Michigan 400

Michigan International Speedway

Brooklyn, Michigan

Sunday, August 28, 2016

  1. (12) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200.
  2. (5) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 200.
  3. (18) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 200.
  4. (7) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 200.
  5. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 200.
  6. (2) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 200.
  7. (9) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 200.
  8. (8) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 200.
  9. (3) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200.
  10. (1) Joey Logano, Ford, 200.
  11. (22) Greg Biffle, Ford, 200.
  12. (19) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 200.
  13. (13) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 200.
  14. (11) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 200.
  15. (25) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 200.
  16. (17) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 200.
  17. (10) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 200.
  18. (20) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 200.
  19. (16) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 199.
  20. (14) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 199.
  21. (15) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 198.
  22. (28) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 198.
  23. (23) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 198.
  24. (24) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 198.
  25. (26) Aric Almirola, Ford, 198.
  26. (31) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 198.
  27. (29) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 198.
  28. (30) Brian Scott #, Ford, 197.
  29. (32) David Ragan, Toyota, 196.
  30. (6) Alex Bowman(i), Chevrolet, 195.
  31. (35) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 195.
  32. (34) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 195.
  33. (36) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 195.
  34. (37) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 194.
  35. (21) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 193.
  36. (39) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 193.
  37. (40) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, 192.
  38. (38) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 192.
  39. (33) Landon Cassill, Ford, Suspension, 174.
  40. (27) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 160.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  162.73 mph.

Time of Race:  02 Hrs, 27 Mins, 29 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.478 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 17 laps.

Lead Changes:  20 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   J. Logano 1-22; R. Smith 23; J. Logano 24-25; K. Harvick 26-57; M. Truex Jr 58-64; K. Harvick 65; C. Elliott # 66; B. Keselowski 67-70; J. Johnson 71-107; C. Elliott # 108; B. Keselowski 109-117; C. Elliott # 118-124; K. Larson 125-155; B. Keselowski 156; M. Kenseth 157-164; A. Dillon 165; R. Newman 166; C. Edwards 167; G. Biffle 168; C. Elliott # 169-190; K. Larson 191-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Larson 2 times for 41 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 37 laps; K. Harvick 2 times for 33 laps; C. Elliott # 4 times for 31 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 24 laps; B. Keselowski 3 times for 14 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 8 laps; M. Truex Jr 1 time for 7 laps; R. Smith 1 time for 1 lap; G. Biffle 1 time for 1 lap; C. Edwards 1 time for 1 lap; A. Dillon 1 time for 1 lap; R. Newman 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 799; B. Keselowski – 774; C. Edwards – 724; Kurt Busch – 721; J. Logano – 716; Kyle Busch – 696; D. Hamlin – 691; M. Truex Jr – 652; J. Johnson – 648; M. Kenseth – 633; C. Elliott # – 628; A. Dillon – 622; J. Mcmurray – 616; R. Newman – 601; K. Larson – 582; K. Kahne – 564.

 

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 28 2016
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