Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Sports

Kyle Larson wins NASCAR Cup race, takes points lead

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Three times, Kyle Larson needed to outrace the rest of the contenders on late restarts.

That's a task he has proven he can handle at Michigan International Speedway.

Larson took control of the FireKeepers Casino 400 on a restart with five laps remaining and held off Chase Elliott on Sunday for his second Monster Energy Cup series victory of the season.

Martin Truex won the first two stages of the race but finished sixth, ceding the points lead to Larson. Truex, now five points back, has 10 stage victories this year. Nobody else has more than four.

The finish was similar to the race at Michigan last August, when Larson took the lead on a restart with nine laps left en route to a Cup win.

Larson won this year at Fontana and has five second-place finishes.

"We've been so close to so many other wins," said Larson, 24. "This is our second Cup win of the year, but we've had six second-place finishes. All in all, it's a good season so far, and we'll continue to keep building on what we've got."

It was the third Cup win of Larson's career and 14th by Chip Ganassi Racing. Elliott was second in both Michigan races last year, and again this time. He's winless in 56 career Cup races, but he's fifth in points in 2017.

"We had a couple of opportunities to get the lead, and unfortunately, it just didn't work out. Congratulations to Kyle," said Elliott, 21. "He had a fast car, and we'll try to go get 'em next week."

Joey Logano finished third. He beat Elliott in last June's race at MIS. Then Elliott was leading the August race comfortably before a yellow flag gave Larson a boost.

"You have no idea how good this feels," Logano said. "I'm not sure we had a third-place car today, but the team executed like they needed to.''

Logano had another reason to be excited. After the race, a message on his Twitter account announced that he and his wife, Brittany, are expecting a child in January.

There were three cautions toward the end. The first was for debris, and Larson beat Kyle Busch on the inside for the lead on the restart with 15 laps to go.

Then Clint Bowyer went into the wall, bringing out a caution. Larson was first off that restart, only to be slowed by another caution after a multicar incident on the backstretch; Danica Patrick was knocked off the track and into the wall. With five laps left, the race restarted, and Larson took the lead on the outside. He won by 0.993 seconds in his No. 42 Chevrolet.

"Ryan Blaney gave me a heck of a push," Larson said, "so I've really got to thank him a ton. I knew the Penske cars took off good, so I was happy to see him behind me. For us to withstand a few restarts there with some tough competitors there was pretty important. I can't thank these guys enough. What a great Father's Day present for myself and all the other fathers out there. My dad is here today, too.

"I'm looking forward to celebrating with him. We've been so close to so many other wins."

24 HOURS LE MANS: Timo Bern­hard led Porsche to a dramatic third straight win in the grueling endurance race in France and prevent a huge upset for the lesser category Oreca team. After mishaps to favorites Porsche and Toyota, the LMP2 category Oreca was in the lead with Thomas Laurent, 19, behind the wheel three hours from the end. But Bernhard, racing in the faster and more powerful LMP1 category Porsche 919 Hybrid, took the lead with about an hour remaining. The Porsche No. 2 had been held up for more than an hour due to technical problems and at one point was in 56th place.

NHRA: Clay Millican raced to his first career Top Fuel victory in 254 starts and ninth final-round appearance, beating Leah Pritchett at the Thunder Valley Nationals final in Bristol, Tenn. The Tennessee driver had a 3.825-second pass at 316.38 mph. "There were times I wondered if this was going to happen,'' Millican said. Ron Capps won in Funny Car, and Alex Laughin in Pro Stock.

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