Larson edges Truex to win Pure Michigan 400
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Kyle Larson claimed his third consecutive win at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday and his third win of the season after he took the lead from Martin Truex Jr. on an overtime restart in the Pure Michigan 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
“I was running a few options through my head of what to do if I got a good jump, and that was one of them, and it worked out perfect,” Larson said. “I can’t believe that happened. We were struggling all day. We were definitely not as good as the last two times we won here, but we preserved and had a great restart at the end.”
Truex and teammate Erik Jones finished second and third, respectively. For Jones, it equaled his career-best finish.
Ryan Newman and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top five.
The race went into overtime as the result of a Michael McDowell-Paul Menard wreck on lap 195 that brought out the yellow flag for the fifth time in the race and then the red flag for extensive track cleanup.
The race restarted with Truex and Jones on the front row and Larson in fourth.
“I just tried to do something a little different there with Larson behind me, but when he hit me, I went and I spun the tires,” Truex said. “They just got too cold under that red flag and not enough time to get them warmed up. Our car generally took a few laps all day to get warm, but while we had enough caution laps, I could kind of keep heat in the tires.
“Just spun them a bit, and he got a run, and there was no way he was going to go around me on the bottom with all that stuff down there, and I just went into one and spun the tires because they were so cold. It’s one of those deals; sometimes these things don’t work out.
“I’m proud of everybody on the team; they did a great job today, and we had a really fast race car again. Proud of that, and I hate I didn’t get it done for those guys and all our fans out there, but all in all, it’s a good day. Michigan has just been tough. We’ve been fast here; we just can’t get that ‘W,’ but we’re fast here, and we’ll learn from it.”
Truex was the class of the field in the second half of the race, but when he pitted during a cycle of green-flag pit stops with just over 40 laps remaining, varying pit strategies put other drivers up front.
Truex was back up front when he stayed out during the fourth caution of the race that came out when Joey Logano had a flat tire.
“We kind of fell into where we were gonna be 10th or so, just like we’ve been and then the right-front blew out somehow,” Logano said. “It wasn’t like it was a long run or anything like that. We must have run something over, but after that, we were two (laps) down and it just didn’t matter.”
Michigan native Brad Keselowski dominated the first half of the race and was the winner of the first 60-lap stage. Truex took the win in stage two, his series-leading 15th stage win of the season.
After starting on the pole, Keselowski led the first 42 laps before pitting during a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Another Michigan driver, Jones, stayed out four extra laps during the cycle to lead before Keselowski cycled back around to the top spot.
Daniel Suarez stayed out during the caution at the end of the first stage to inherit the lead. When the race restarted for stage two, Keselowski retook the position, but Suarez maintained second until finally having to pit on lap 91.
Suarez’s race ended prematurely when he wrecked with Kasey Kahne with 60 laps remaining.
“We were good, but we messed up there a little bit with taking two tires,” Suarez said. “I didn’t like that. I thought we were going to be able to overcome, and it was still very early in the race. Unfortunately, contact got us out of the race.”
Another cycle of green-flag stops began just past lap 105. When that cycle completed near the end of the second stage, Truex was up front and Keselowski in second.
NOTES: Kyle Busch led 47 laps in the 100-lap NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday before finishing third. ... Kyle Larson won the last two races at MIS, most recently in June 2017 and last year’s Pure Michigan 400. ... Larson was in Knoxville, Iowa, on Saturday night where he finished second in the Knoxville Nationals dirt sprint car event. He flew to Knoxville after the final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Michigan on Saturday. ... Chase Elliott finished second in all three of his previous races at Michigan. ... Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne started in the back Sunday after going to backup cars because of damage sustained by their primary cars in separate on-track incidents during final practice Saturday. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s car also sustained practice damage, but his team was able to make repairs. ... Truck Series driver Christopher Bell was on standby for Denny Hamlin in case Hamlin’s longtime girlfriend, Jordan Fish, went into labor. Hamlin and Fish are awaiting the birth of their second child. ... Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth lead active drivers at Michigan with three wins apiece. ... After the Michigan race, only three races remain in the regular season.