Kyle Larson earns first Sprint Cup win after battle with Chase Elliott


One start shy of his 100th Sprint Cup race, Kyle Larson capitalized on a late caution and a bad Chase Elliott restart to win the Pure Michigan 400 for his first Sprint Cup Series win.

Larson led 41 laps, including the final 10, to give Chip Ganassi Racing its first Sprint Cup win in 99 starts.

The top five was Larson, Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick.

MORE: Results from Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400

MORE: Kyle Larson’s win shakes up points, Chase grid

In his excitement, Larson conducted part of his victory burnout with his steering wheel stuck out the window.

“I was tearing up that whole last few laps, I could just feel it, it was finally going to be it,” Larson told NBCSN in victory lane. “I wasn’t going to have a caution.”

The 24-year old driver, emotionally drained, paused before dedicating the win to the family of Bryan Clauson, his friend and fellow driver who was killed in a midget car race earlier this month.

“We really miss Bryan, we love you guys,” Larson said. “We’re going to miss him. We parked it for him. So that’s really cool. We had a lot of work to do for the first third of the race and got it done.”

Larson’s visit to victory lane is Ganassi’s first since Jamie McMurray won at Talladega in Oct. 2013, one race after Larson made his Sprint Cup debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It was able to happen after Elliott, who led 31 laps, spun his tires on the final restart while sitting in the lane outside of Larson.

“We both spun our tires really bad,” Larson admitted. “(Keselowski) he could have probably pulled underneath me and went by, but he stayed with me and got me the lead.”

Nine laps later, Larson was qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, a prospect the third-year driver didn’t think was possible three weeks ago after a last-lap wreck at Watkins Glen International. But Larson thought his race hopes were dashed after a slow final pit stop sent the No. 42 from the lead to fourth.

“I thought we were done,” Larson said. “I’m at a lost for words right now. I feel like I need to sit down, my adrenaline is going crazy right now.”

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Jimmie Johnson led 37 laps, but after a slow pit stop midway through the race, finished sixth for consecutive top-10 finishes for the first time since April … Ryan Blaney finished fourth for his second top five of the season … Brad Keselowski’s third-place finish is his fifth top five and second runner-up finish at his home track … Jamie McMurray finished eighth for his eighth top 10 of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Chris Buescher experienced an underpowered engine during the first green-flag run. Work on the No. 34 caused the rookie to finish 35th, seven laps down … Alex Bowman, driving in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 30th, five laps down after falling victim to an ignition issue about 40 laps into the race … Pole-sitter Joey Logano led 24 laps but slowly fell back in the pack to finish 10th … In his final Sprint Cup start at Michigan, Tony Stewart finished  21st, two laps down.

NOTABLE: Kyle Larson is the first driver to earn his first Sprint Cup win at Michigan since Dale Jarrett in 1991 …  First time winner swept all three national NASCAR series races … Chase Elliott has finished second in both Michigan races this season.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “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.” – Team owner Chip Ganassi after Kyle Larson gave him his first Sprint Cup win in 99 starts.

Next: The Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. ET on NBC.