The fans at Michigan International Speedway saw the first win in Kyle Larson’s career in the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday.
With 10 laps to go on a restart, Larson found himself side-by-side with race leader Chase Elliott. Both drivers spun their tires on the restart as they tried to gain position, but it was Larson who was able to make the quicker adjustment.
Elliott fell back to third behind Larson and Brad Keselowski, but quickly passed Keselowski to put the pressure on Larson.
Larson was then able to hold off Elliott during the final laps in order to secure his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in 99 starts.
“I was teared-up that whole last few laps because I could just feel it,” Larson said. “It was finally going to be it.”
Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five. Larson led a race-high 41 laps while Jimmie Johnson led 37 laps. Johnson started the race second and ended in sixth.
This race marked the second time at Michigan International Speedway that NASCAR featured its 2017 low-downforce package. This package reduces the downforce and sideforce on the cars which places greater emphasis on driver skill. Although the drivers had more experience with this set of rules, they still tested their limits and provided action-packed racing.
This was not the first time that the young duo of Larson and Elliott left Michigan with success this year. The pair finished in the top three in the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway in June.
In this race, they dueled among the leader for most of the race just like June.
With Larson winning, Chevrolet was the winner of the Michigan Heritage trophy. The Michigan Heritage trophy is a recognition and celebration of the automobile and its importance to the race track and the manufacturers competing in NASCAR.
Chip Ganassi Racing also had a 99-race winless streak until Larson snapped it with his victory in the Pure Michigan 400.
“It was a big one. It was a big one,” Chip Ganassi said. “I hate to put the onus on somebody else, but boy I’m sure glad to. And I can’t thank Target enough and all of our other sponsors that make up the team in all the series that we’re in. It’s one big team…all the engineers and all these people work so damn hard. And to go winless for so long is really difficult. Only one person wins in this sport. It’s like golf. There’s only one winner. And we’re just proud to be here right now. I’m really proud to represent out team and proud to represent our sponsors.”
The first-time win was even sweeter for Larson because it clinched a spot in The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup—NASCAR’s playoffs. The win also came at a great time because there are only two races left until The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup starts. Lastly, Larson became the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It truly was a memorable day at Michigan International Speedway for Larson.
“I’m sort of at a loss for words right now,” Larson said. “My adrenaline is going crazy right now. Thanks to all the fans who are watching. I had a good time.”