Kyle Larson Captures Third Win In A Row At Michigan International Speedway Following Bold Pass In NASCAR Overtimeby Camille Jones August 13, 2017
BROOKLYN, Mich.– Kyle Larson snagged his third victory in a row at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday in the Pure Michigan 400 after going four-wide to take the lead on the final restart in NASCAR Overtime.
Larson lined up fourth for the final restart in his No. 42 Target Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing following a late-race caution and red flag. He was able to soar by Martin Truex, Jr. to drive off with the top spot over the field and capture the win in the Pure Michigan 400. The win is Larson’s third victory of 2017 and his fourth career in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“It was an awesome finish for us,” said Larson. “Kind of a struggle all day, honestly. I felt like we were – I was good and I could find clean air on my car, but any time I’d get any bit of dirty air or any bit of the wake from the car in front of me, I’d get extremely loose, even when I wasn’t close to anybody. We definitely didn’t have the car that we had here the last two times we won, but we kept fighting, probably even harder than we did in those other two wins. Caught a caution at the right time there to line up eighth on fresh tires, got to fifth, and then edged in front of Chase (Elliott) for fourth as the caution was coming out, and that allowed me to line up behind Martin (Truex) and get a good restart. I was running a few different options through my head under that red flag of what to do, and that one was one of them, and it played out exactly how I had hoped.”
Larson continued and said, “Yeah, so this win feels amazing to steal one in a way, and my other three wins I felt like we had the first or second best car, but today at times I didn’t think we were a top 10 car. But to get the win that way is awesome.”
With the victory, Larson becomes the third driver in the history of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to win three or more consecutive races at Michigan International Speedway, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson and Bill Elliott.
Martin Truex Jr. had to settle for second place in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota after winning Stage 2 and leading 57 laps on Sunday. He was in the best position to win the race on Sunday until the final caution of the afternoon on lap 197 closed his lead over the field. On the final restart, Truex Jr. just couldn’t hold off Larson. With the runner-up finish, Truex Jr. claimed his 16th top-10 finish of the 2017 season.
“I just tried to do something a little different there with (Kyle) Larson behind me, but when he hit me I went and I spun the tires,” said Truex. “They just got too cold under that red flag and not enough time to get them warmed up. Our car generally took a few laps all day to get warm, but while we had enough caution laps I could kind of keep heat in the tires. Just spun them a bit and he got a run and there was no way he was going to go around me on the bottom with all that stuff down there and I just went into one and spun the tires because they were so cold. It’s one of those deals, sometimes these things don’t work out. I’m proud of everybody on the team, they did a great job today and we had a really fast race car again. Proud of that and I hate I didn’t get it done for those guys and all our fans out there, but all in all it’s a good day. Michigan has just been tough. We’ve been fast here, we just can’t get that ‘W,’ but we’re fast here and we’ll learn from it.”
Erik Jones captured the third-place finishing position, his first top-10 in two races at Michigan International Speedway. Jones admitted that towards the end of the race, he realized he may be close to getting his first Cup Series win.
“I did for a few moments and then the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) really kind of picked it up there the last 50 laps or so and he was really fast,” Jones said. “We were kind of in our own league there for a long time – we were kind of matching lap times, he would go faster and I would go faster. I really thought that whoever was out front was going to win, unfortunately neither of us got it done. Neither of us really got going great after that last restart. I spun my tires, he spun his and it just wasn’t what we needed at the end.”
Ryan Newman finished in the fourth position with Trevor Bayne rounding out the top-five. Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch completed the top-10.
The first 140 laps were relatively quiet, until the caution came out on lap 140 when Kasey Kahne moved up the track and crossed over the hood of Daniel Suarez, sending both sailing into the outside wall. Kahne’s car went airborne between Suarez’s car and the wall, before landing with significant damage. Neither car was able to continue, but both drivers walked away safely.
“We had to fight from the back and had a good Liftmaster Chevrolet,” Kahne said following the crash. “We kept working to get up there. Daniel (Suarez) was going backwards and I was going by and I ran the bottom. I expected we could be close off the corner, and I was just coming off and then we hit. So, I don’t know. I expected to run side-by-side down the backstretch, but not give a lot of room, because you don’t. Nobody does. But I was making the pass and I don’t know how we hit. Ruined it.
On lap 197, the caution that changed the end of the race came out when Michael McDowell went spinning with contact by Paul Menard. The lengthy clean-up required a red flag, setting the field up for the wild NASCAR Overtime restart where Larson was able to charge for the win.
Truex Jr. maintains the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points lead over Kyle Larson by 129 points.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes on the high-banked half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway next Saturday night for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. Coverage will be found on NBC and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) on August 19, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images