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.”
Photo by: Kena Krutsinger
Joey Logano’s strong restarting skills propelled him to his first Sprint Cup victory of the 2016 season during the FireKeepers Casino 400.
Logano led 138 laps and scored his first victory since last fall at Talladega Superspeedway.
The Penske driver pulled ahead of Hendrick Motorsports rookie Chase Elliott on a final restart to become the 10th different winner this season after Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin blew a tire that brought out a caution with 12 laps to go.
“Everyone did a great job of understanding what this package was going to do,” Logano said. “They put together a great race car for me.”
A missed shift by Elliott on lap 154 gave the lead back to Logano and Elliott never recovered to battle for the win at the end. Elliott, however, finished a career-best of 2nd place.
“You can’t do dumb stuff and win these races. Completely my fault,” Elliott said. “The guys gave me a great car today. This whole NAPA group has been working so hard these past few weeks, and that one was on me.”
Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-5.
Photo by Jerry Markland
Daniel Suarez clinched his first career NASCAR Xfinity victory during the Saturday afternoon Menard’s 250 at Michigan International Speedway.
Suarez passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in the closing laps of the event. Busch dominated the event, leading 88 of the 125 laps, but came up short for his fifth Xfinity Series victory this season. He finished second.
Suarez was penalized after speeding during a pitstop on lap 32, but gradually recovered to battle for the win.
“I just have no words honestly. I don’t think I can speak English or Spanish right now honestly,” Suarez said. “I can’t thank these guys enough for all the hard work.”
It was only a matter of time that Suarez would be in victory lane. Suarez was the 2015 rookie of the year and has continued his momentum this season. Suarez currently leads the Xfinity standings 18 points ahead of JR Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler.
“Honestly, I was trying as hard as possible. I was driving a little more on the edge,” Suarez said. “Honestly, I was maybe risking a little more than I should have. Everything was about the win so I was trying as hard as possible and it seemed like we were good in points, but not very good in wins. I was just very hungry and I know this team was at the same spot, we were very hungry to win races and finally we got the first one.”
Suarez dedicated the win to Erik Jones and his late father, who passed away Tuesday after battling cancer. Jones took to Twitter before the race to announce the news. Jones displayed his father’s name on the No. 20 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota instead of his own to pay tribute. He finished fourth.
Suarez won by 0.281 seconds on his 48th start. He looks for his second win June 19th, 1:30 PM/ET on FS1.