Photo by: Jeff Zelevansky
Kyle Larson scored his first Sprint Cup Series victory at Michigan International Speedway during Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, the first person since Dale Jarrett to score their first Cup victory at the racetrack.
Larson, who led 41 laps, snapped a 99-race winless streak for Chip Ganassi Racing. The driver was the third first-time winner this weekend in a national series. Michael McDowell won in the XFINITY Series and Brett Moffitt in the Camping World Truck Series – the first in NASCAR history.
“I was teared-up that whole last few laps, because I could just feel it,” Larson said. “It was finally going to be it. This one is for the Clauson family. We really miss Bryan. We’re going to miss him. We parked it for him, so that’s really cool.”
Much like other races the No.42 Target Chevrolet driver looked promised to win, Larson overcame losing the lead to rookie Chase Elliott after final pit stops when a late-race caution bunched up the field for a final restart.
“We’ve been close a few times throughout my Sprint Cup career to final put it all together and get a win, it’s awesome.” Larson said, “It makes me extremely proud because we didn’t start off this year good at all. I was pretty down the first month and a half or so.”
Larson became the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program to win on the Sprint Cup Series level. He also clinches a spot inside the Chase for the first time in his career.
“It’s special because all the hard work has paid off.” Larson said.
The win comes three weeks after close friend Brian Clauson was fatally injured in a racing accident. Larson ‘Parked It’ in victory lane and dedicated the win to his family after celebrating with a thrilling burnout.
“He didn’t like people doing burnouts and stuff like that because he wanted you to act like you’ve been to Victory Lane before.” Larson said of his late friend, “But I hadn’t been to Victory Lane before. So I was going to do some burnouts.”