Kyle Larson earns first ever Sprint Cup win at Michigan

Luck finally fell Kyle Larson’s way, as the Ganassi driver won his first Sprint Cup race in his 99th career start.

Kyle Larson earns first ever Sprint Cup win at Michigan
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, spins
Listen to this article

On Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Larson beat Chase Elliott to the line by 1.479-second. 

“Parked It,” Larson screamed. 

Brad Keselowski finished third followed by Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin and polesitter Joey Logano. 

Larson became the second driver to win his first career Cup race at Michigan. Dale Jarrett pulled off the feat in this race in 1991. Larson finished second four-times before breaking through on Sunday and breaks a winless streak for Ganassi Racing dating back to Talladega 2013 with Jamie McMurray. 

Parking it for Clauson

Larson dedicated his victory to Bryan Clauson’s family. Clauson, 27, died as a result of injuries sustained during an accident in Belleville Midget Nationals on Aug. 6.

“Man, I was tearing up that whole last few laps,” Larson said. “I had a feeling it was finally go to happen. This one’s for the Clauson family. We’re really missing Bryan. We miss him. We parked it for him – that’s really cool. We had a lot of work to do after the first third of the race.”

Early trouble for Kyle Busch

The first yellow flag was a scheduled competition caution by NASCAR on Lap 20. However, when the race returned to green on Lap 26, Kyle Busch lost control of his car coming through Turns 3 and 4 and spun off the corner into the grass near the entrance of pit road.  

“Did I mention how much I absolutely adore this place,” Busch radioed to the 18 team.

“It could be worse buddy, this race isn't in the Chase," crew chief Adam Stevens replied.

Busch restarted 39th, one lap off of the pace. Kevin Harvick led the field to green and remained at the point until he was passed by Martin Truex Jr. on Lap 57. Ryan Blaney was forced to pit on Lap 61 with a flat right front tire. He was running sixth — and recovered to the same position 11 laps later as other drivers came to pit road. For the 19th race this season, Truex had issues on pit road after his jackman dropped the jack early on Lap 64. He cycled out to eighth but was 11-seconds behind the leader. 

Harvick regained the lead on Lap 65 before Elliott took the point for the first time on Lap 66. Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson took turns at the lead before the next round of green flag pit stops began. Johnson had issues with fueling on pit road and dropped to fifth. The third caution was called for debris on Lap 120 with Elliott in the lead.

“You guys are going to have to bail me out here,” Elliott told his crew as he ran a half-second behind Larson on Lap 145. The pit crew responded by finishing their stop ahead of the No. 42 team on Lap 155. Ten laps later, he was sixth — two positions and three-seconds ahead of Larson.

Closing laps

Elliott cycled to the lead again on Lap 169 after Austin Dillon pitted. He retained a commanding advantage over Larson before NASCAR called the fourth caution with 14 laps remaining for debris. Elliott, Larson, Keselowski, Blaney and Carl Edwards remained on the track. Harvick was the first car to pit, took two tires and lined up sixth with Hamlin, Johnson, Kenseth and Dillon rounding out the top 10. 

Keselowski gave Larson a huge push on the Lap 191 restart and moved into second with Elliott in third, Blaney in fourth and Harvick fifth. Larson held a one-second lead with seven to go and picked up the pace from there for his first win -- and first Chase berth. 

“It feels good," Larson added. "I didn’t think after I let the down the last few weeks we would get in."

The victory also marks the first for crew chief Chad Johnston since joining the No. 42 team this year.

"It means a lot for me, it means a lot for Kyle,” Johnston said. "It’s been a rough few years for me – I haven’t performed like I wanted to. I came over and we didn’t start of the year like I wanted but we found speed throughout the year and the kid has a ton of talent. Just so proud of all these guys. I think you’ll see more to come from Kyle Larson."

A big day for CGR

Team owner Chip Ganassi was just as elated as his driver, saying in Victory Lane, "We hung in there with our team. We’ve been building over the years. He came on board and did a great job. The team rallied around him. I can’t say enough about the kid and the job he’s done over the last couple years. It’s just been a nice, gradual coming up through the pack. We couldn’t  be more happy with Kyle right now.

"This is really, really big. We’ve been on the cusp for so many years. We got Jamie (McMurray) in (the Chase) last year and now with Kyle. I’m kind of speechless to tell you the truth. All these people work so damn hard and if you go winless for so long, it’s really, really difficult. Only one person wins in this sport. It’s like golf – there’s just one winner. We’re just really proud to be here in Victory Lane right now."

A weekend of first-time winners

With Larson’s victory, the sport celebrated three first-time winners for the first time in NASCAR history. Michael McDowell won his first Xfinity race at Road America on Saturday while Brett Moffitt earned his first victory here at Michigan.

Harvick retains a 25-point lead over Keselowski in the standings. Chris Buescher experienced engine issues earlier in the race and finished 35th but still has a 23-point lead over 31st-place David Ragan.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeLaps Led
1 42  Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 200   41
2 24  Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 200 1.479 31
3 2  Brad Keselowski  Ford 200 2.064 14
4 21  Ryan Blaney  Ford 200 4.108  
5 4  Kevin Harvick  Chevrolet 200 4.559 33
6 48  Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 200 4.773 37
7 19  Carl Edwards  Toyota 200 6.371 1
8 1  Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 200 6.722  
9 11  Denny Hamlin  Toyota 200 7.748  
10 22  Joey Logano  Ford 200 7.791 24

CLICK HERE for complete race results

shares
comments
Hendrick Motorsports finds some much-needed speed at Michigan
Previous article

Hendrick Motorsports finds some much-needed speed at Michigan

Next article

Chase Elliott loses shot at first win on late-race restart

Chase Elliott loses shot at first win on late-race restart
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021