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NASCAR Cup: Kyle Larson grabs third-straight Michigan win

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kyle Larson celebrates in victory lane at Michigan International Speedway after winning the Pure Michigan 400 on Aug. 13, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Kyle Larson celebrates in victory lane at Michigan International Speedway after winning the Pure Michigan 400 on Aug. 13, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn is beginning to look like Kyle Larson’s personal Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playground. After finishing second in the Knoxville Nationals dirt sprint car race in Knoxville, Iowa, Saturday night, Larson returned to MIS in the wee hours of Sunday morning and won the Pure Michigan 400 Sunday afternoon. It was his fourth-career Cup Series win and the third of 2017. Three of those four-career wins and two of his three wins this season have come at Michigan, as his win Sunday was his third-straight at the track.

“I want to thank Chip Ganassi, for one, for finding me in 2011 and bringing me up from USAC to race for him,” Larson said. “I want to thank all my fans as well. This has been an incredible week for me. We ran second in Knoxville yesterday to Donny Schatz, and then, to come here and win and beat Martin Truex Jr., who is a Donny Schatz right now, is definitely a week I’ll never forget.”

Although Larson has dominated MIS’ victory lane the last couple of years, he wasn’t dominant in Sunday’s race. Instead, his win came with a pass on Martin Truex Jr. on an overtime restart. He restarted fourth, while Truex and his Furniture Row Racing teammate and Michigan native Erik Jones restarted on the front row.

“I just tried to do something a little different, there, with Larson behind me, but when he hit me, I went and I spun the tires,” Truex said. “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.”

Truex finished second, and Jones tied a career-best with third. Ryan Newman was fourth, and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top-five.

Another Michigan native, Brad Keselowski, and Truex were stage winners, with Keselowski dominating the first half of the race and taking the stage one win. Truex took the lead late in the second stage and claimed his series-leading 15th stage win of the season.

Keselowski led a race-high 105 laps but wound up 17th after his pit strategy didn’t work out.

“It just didn’t come together there at the end, but it was nice to lead a bunch of laps,” Keselowski said. “That was good and something I was really proud of, but I just didn’t have enough to really run with the 77 [Jones] and the 78 [Truex].  We tried a little strategy to kind of get something out of it, but the way it all played out, I ended up getting the bottom lane on the restarts and getting absolutely swallowed.  We tried.  We put in as much effort as we could.  We knew we didn’t have as much as those two, but we gave it 100 percent effort, and I was really proud of my team for that.”

Truex led 57 laps as varying pit strategies in the second half of the race put other drivers up front at a couple of points late in the race. The only other two drivers to post double digits in the laps-led column were Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, who stayed out longer during a couple of cycles of green-flag pit stops. Busch finished 10th and Hamlin 16th.

The caution that took the race into overtime was the result of a Paul Menard-Michael McDowell wreck on lap 195. The wreck that brought out the fifth caution of the race also resulted in a 5:42 red flag for extensive track clean-up.

All three of the yellow flags for on-track incidents came in the final 60 laps, beginning with an incident involving Kasey Kahne and Daniel Suarez with 60 laps to go. Suarez led a few laps through pit strategy at the end of the first stage, and then, maintained second to Keselowski until having to pit under green on lap 91.

“We were good but we messed up, there, a little bit with taking two tires,” Suarez said. “I didn’t like that. I thought we were going to be able to overcome, and it was still very early in the race. Unfortunately, contact got us out of the race.”

The other caution came on lap 186, courtesy of a Joey Logano flat tire. Truex took his final lead during the Logano caution.

Other top-10 finishers included Chris Buescher in sixth, Austin Dillon seventh, Chase Elliott eighth and Jamie McMurray in ninth.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on August 13, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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