Kyle Larson drove away from the field on a final restart and won the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday, the first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of his career.
Larson trailed rookie Chase Elliott when the caution flag flew with 13 laps left. Despite spinning his tires on the restart, Larson got a push from Brad Keselowski, jumped ahead of Elliott and quickly took control of the race over the final eight laps. Elliott, who is also looking for his first victory, finished second. Keselowski was third and rookie Ryan Blaney finished fourth, tying a career high.
The victory also clinched Larson a spot in the Chase for the first time. He had dropped to 17th place in the standings prior to the race.
Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
Larson trailed Elliott when Michael Annett blew a tire on Lap 187. Despite spinning his tires (Elliott did, too), Larson got a push from Keselowski to win the restart and hold off Elliott over the final eight laps.
Three who mattered
Kyle Larson: His Chase hopes had been flagging in recent weeks. Now he’s in the postseason.
Chase Elliott: Another frustrating afternoon at Michigan for the rookie; he also finished second in the June race.
Brad Keselowski: His third-place finish was his eighth top-10 at Michigan, although he has yet to win at his home-state track.
▪ For the first time in NASCAR history, there were three first-time winners over the three national series in one weekend (Larson; Michael McDowell, Xfinity; Brett Moffitt, Trucks).
▪ The day began well for Alex Bowman, who was filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who missed his sixth race because of concussion symptoms. Bowman started sixth and quickly moved up to fourth, but engine problems doomed his chances and he finished 30th, five laps down.
▪ Jimmie Johnson’s sixth-place finish was his second consecutive top-10 performance and third in the past five races. Maybe he’s going to hit the Chase on an uptick.
▪ The race took a relatively quick 2 hours, 27 minutes to complete. That’s what happens when you combine 400 miles on NASCAR’s fastest track and only four cautions.
▪ Kyle Busch, who is always going to be a factor, wasn’t Sunday. He spun on Lap 27 and never recovered. He finished 19th, one lap behind.
▪ Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford failed postrace inspection. Expect the penalty to be announced mid-week.
They said it
“The restarts at the end (of the race) will make the bloopers reel.” – Keselowski.
Three tweets from Sunday’s race:
Where: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
When: 6 p.m., Sunday.
Radio: Motor Racing Network.