Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Sports

Larson nabs first Sprint Cup win, spot in Chase for Championship

BROOKLYN, Mich. — During the last couple of laps of his first Sprint Cup victory, Kyle Larson was emotional.

"I think with two to go, I was starting to get choked up," he said. "We worked really, really hard to get a win and just haven't done it. Finally all the hard work by everybody, hundreds of people at our race shop, people who have got me through to the Cup series, it was all paying off."

Larson took the lead on a restart with nine laps left and held off Chase Elliott by 1.478 seconds in Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway in a duel of two of NASCAR's young standouts. Larson, who is half Japanese, is the first graduate of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next development programs to win a Sprint Cup race.

Larson also secured a spot in the 10-race Chase for the Championship with two races left in the regular season. Elliott remains winless, but he is in solid shape to make the Chase field on points if need be.

Michigan native Brad Keselowski was third, but his No. 2 Ford failed postrace laser inspection.

Larson's victory in his No. 42 Chevrolet snapped a 99-race losing streak for Chip Ganassi Racing dating to Jamie McMurray's victory at Talladega in 2013.

It was the 99th series start for Larson, 24, who had 14 top-five finishes before Sunday. Elliott, 20, the son of former champion Bill Elliott, is winless in 29 starts, but this was an impressive showing for him after eight consecutive races outside the top 10.

Elliott finished second at Michigan in June as well, losing to Joey Logano. "That's a couple races in a row in just a few short months here at this place we had a really good car, had an opportunity," Elliott said.

Tony Stewart finished 21st but clinched a Chase spot in his final season because he secured a top-30 finish in points to go with his win in June at Sonoma. Chris Buescher was 35th after some early engine trouble but stayed 30th in points; he needs to stay in the top 30 to make the Chase with his win at Pocono.

This weekend marked the first time in NASCAR history that all three national series had first-time winners — Larson and Brett Moffitt (trucks series) at Michigan and Michael McDowell (Xfinity series) at Road America.

Formula One: Nico Rosberg won the Belgian Grand Prix, racing unchallenged from the pole at Spa-Francorchamps, but Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton stole the show by charging from the last row on the grid to finish third. Rosberg moved within nine points of Hamilton with eight races left.

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Sports on TV/radio for Wednesday, June 20

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Big Ten reaps recruiting bounty in Tampa Bay

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