Larson finally finds his way to victory lane after 3 years

Roger Diez: Busy racing weekend on tap

Kyle Larson’s first career win last week at MI made him the 13th driver to win in the first 24 Sprint Cup races which means there are only three Chase spots available.

Kyle Larson was very emotional when he exited his hot-rod in Victory Lane.

Larson’s victory in his No. 42 Chevrolet snapped a 99-race losing streak for Chip Ganassi Racing dating to Jamie McMurray’s victory at Talladega in 2013.

Chase Elliott came up one position short of winning his first career Sprint Cup Series race.

The weekend was successful in the top three series of NASCAR where each found a first-time victor at each track. First and foremost came a tribute to a close friend, Bryan Clauson, who died August 7 from injuries sustained in a Midget auto crash. Larson paid tribute to Clauson with special decals and in victory lane at MI.

“Parked it!” yelled Larson after he took the checkered flag, echoing Clauson’s signature victory cry. It was finally going to be it.

“This one is for the Clauson family”, Larson said. We’re really missing Bryan. A couple of thoughts I had after meeting him: “what a great guy”, and, “it’s a shame he’s never going to win a race”. We stayed out on those really long runs and kept gaining spots, climbed all the way from 18th to fourth or fifth there, which was really, really good.

McDowell, for Richard Childress Racing, held off his teammate Brendan Gaughan (No. 62) for his first career win at the road course. Thanks to Target. Thanks to everyone on this team. On lap 37 he radioed in to his crew chief that he might have an engine issue. “We messed up that last stop but we made it back”.

The 24-year old held off Chase Elliott to win by 1.48 seconds. Four laps later, Michael Annett blew a right front tire, and NASCAR called the fourth and final caution.

On the ensuing restart on lap 192, Elliot spun the tires and Keslowski pushed Larson into the lead. “Now, I’ll be able to go back and watch this, and it’s going to be awesome”, McDowell said. I hate to put the onus on somebody else but I’m so glad. For the second time, this has happened. Michael McDowell started in the back Sunday, because Sam Hornish Jr. practiced and qualified his Sprint Cup auto while McDowell was at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on Saturday, running the NASCAR Xfinity Series race there. I messed up.’ They did; they got us the lead just like I asked, and I gave it away again. He was in a must-win situation heading into the final stretch before the 10-week playoff, and it looked like he would miss out on being part of the 16-driver field once again.

“Solid top five day and I really think we could have raced for the win”, Bowman tweeted after the race. “But he gave me a nice push and got us the win”. “So, you know, for me, just have to try to take the positives out of it”. Need to do my restarts a little better.

McMurray has a 15-point lead on Ryan Newman, the first driver on the outside looking in.

On the bright side, Chase Elliott’s second place finish help solidify his 11th place position in the Chase point standings. He’s now 11th in the standings, highest among drivers without a victory and 27 points ahead of Newman, who finished 17th on Sunday. Larson closed on Elliott but lost the ground gained in lapped traffic with just under 20 laps to go. Pocono victor Chris Buescher lost a cylinder at the outset, finished 35th, and held onto a seven-point lead over David Ragan for the 30th spot in the standings.

The 10-race Chase for the Championship starts September 18 at Chicagoland Speedway.

“I was relieved that the caution came out because there was absolutely no way I was going to win the race had that yellow not come out”, Larson said.

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