In a run of continuity in an ever-changing sport, Kyle Larson won the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway for his third career win while Chase Elliott came home second.
Larson and Elliott finished first and second, respectively, at Michigan last August as well. Larson’s three career wins have all come at two mile tracks: Michigan last year and Auto Club Speedway and Michigan this year. Also, this is Elliott’s third-straight second place finish in three races at this track.
“Our racecars are fast at [two mile tracks],” Larson said. “Michigan and Fontana are, you know, very, very similar in shape and size. But the racing surface is way different. … They’re both fun, because we seem to have good racecars, especially when we come here. Seems like since my rookie season, we’ve always had fast cars here at Michigan.”
Larson started the day on the pole and rocketed out to the front right away. The first 60-lap stage of the race saw two early cautions; one for debris on lap eight, and the competition caution because of overnight rain on lap 25. After that, the rest of the stage went green to the finish, and stage two saw no cautions.
Larson’s biggest competition all day was Martin Truex Jr, who battled Larson for the lead often. Truex had the advantage over Larson on long runs, and because of that Truex won both stages of Sunday’s race. Larson finished second and third in each respective stage.
Truex led 62 laps on the day and finished sixth, but he felt he could not catch a break at the end in order to compete for the victory.
“We had the best car out there without a doubt – just inside lane restarts at the end killed us, so just stinks when you have to race like that,” Truex said. “You get just in a bad spot and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
As Truex mentioned, a flurry of late race cautions created frantic racing and a few wild restarts that helped some drivers and hurt others.
A debris caution with 19 laps to go bunched the field back up. Then, once the field went green again, Clint Bowyer slid up the banking in turn two and made contact with the wall.
On the next restart on lap 192, a five car wreck ensued off Turn 2 while drivers were battling for what would be 11th. A set of drivers exited the corner three-wide, and Daniel Suarez spun into Danica Patrick, who then took a hit to the inside wall. The crash forced Patrick to end her day early, the only driver to do so.
On the final restart, Larson had the coveted high line that gave him the best launch into Turn 1, and he set sail for the checkered flag. Larson led 96 of 200 laps en route to Victory Lane.
“For us to withstand a few restarts there with some tough competitors there was pretty important,” Larson said from Victory Lane. “I can’t thank these guys enough. The Cars 3 Chevy was really, really fast. And it was cool to win it. What a great Father’s Day present for myself and all the other fathers out there.”
Behind Larson and Elliott, Joey Logano came home third, followed by Denny Hamlin fourth and Jamie McMurray fifth. Truex Jr. was sixth, Kyle Busch seventh, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. eighth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ninth and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-10.
Zach Horrall is a NASCAR reporter for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by NASCAR and has full media access. Follow @ZHorrallBU and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
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