Larson certainly knows the way to victory lane at Michigan International Speedway and has left his mark on the track with famous burnouts. The win marked the second straight Pure Michigan 400 victory for Larson and the third straight overall Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Michigan.
Larson joined some elite company with his third consecutive Monster Energy Series win at MIS. A pair of NASCAR Hall of Famers are the only other two drivers to accomplish the feat. Bill Elliott won four straight from 1985-86. David Pearson won three consecutive races at the two-mile oval from 1972-73.
Michael McDowell spun with three laps to go in the race and collected Paul Menard to bring out the red flag to clean up fluids on the track. After a brief stoppage in the action, the intensity hit a crescendo on the restart.
The red flag allowed each driver run through all the options. Larson’s team owner Chip Ganassi put the idea of going three wide into his driver’s thought process.
“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.”
After the red flag it was time for NASCAR overtime and a two lap dash to the finish.
Martin Truex, Jr. lined up on the outside with teammate and Michigan native Erik Jones on inside. But it was Larson who lurked just behind in fourth place. Larson got the best restart of his career and quickly went three wide into turn one.
Coming out of turn two it was Larson in the lead and he held that position coming to the white flag. Truex made one more run at Larson, but Larson held off the challenge.
Larson led two laps all day, but they were the most important laps of the day. He led the final two laps of the day.
Jones finished in third place, his best finish in the cup series. He had a chance to collect his first win and knew it would be even more special at his hometown track.
“I did for a few moments and then the 78 (Truex Jr.) really kind of picked it up there the last 50 laps or so and he was really fast,” Jones said. “We were kind of in our own league there for a long time – we were kind of matching lap times, he would go faster and I would go faster. I really thought that whoever was out front was going to win, unfortunately neither of us got it done. Neither of us really got going great after that last restart. I spun my tires, he spun his and it just wasn’t what we needed at the end.”
Rochester Hills, Michigan native Brad Keselowski started on the pole and dominated the early part of the race. He won the first stage, leading 56 of the 60 laps in the stage.
NASCAR will return to at Michigan International Speedway twice in 2018. NASCAR’s fastest track will once again host two great weekends of racing in 2018: June 8-10 and August 10-12.
The first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race weekend is June 8-10. The FireKeepers Casino 400 will be on June 10. The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will start the weekend with the Corrigan Oil 200 on June 8 and the NASCAR XFINITY Series race will be on June 9.
On August 10-12 the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will return to NASCAR’s fastest track. Monster Energy Series practice and qualifying will be on August 10 and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series LTi Printing 200 is scheduled for August 11. The Pure Michigan 400 will wrap up the NASCAR racing season at MIS on August 12.
Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack. It has been the love of NASCAR racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike for nearly 50 years.