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

Third-year driver Kyle Larson earned his first Sprint Cup victory in his 99th series start.

Third-year driver Kyle Larson earned his first Sprint Cup victory in his 99th series start.

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.

Sprint Cup points

Through 24 of 36 races. The top 16 drivers, based on wins then points, make the 10-race Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts Back

Kevin Harvick** 799—

Brad Keselowski**** 774 25

Carl Edwards** 724 75

Kurt Busch* 721 78

Joey Logano* 716 83

Kyle Busch**** 696 103

Denny Hamlin** 691 108

Martin Truex* 652 147

Jimmie Johnson** 648 151

Matt Kenseth** 633 166

* Wins

Chase at a glance

The 10-race Chase for the Championship starts Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Clinched spots (in order of seeding)

Four wins: Brad Keselowski (774 points), Kyle Busch (696)

Two wins: Kevin Harvick (799), Carl Edwards (724), Denny Hamlin (691), Jimmie Johnson (648), Matt Kenseth (633)

One win: Kurt Busch (721), Joey Logano (716), Martin Truex (652), Kyle Larson (582), Tony Stewart (420)

Needs to stay in top 30 in points (one win):

Chris Buescher (currently 30th, 334)


In as points stand: Chase Elliott (628), Austin Dillon (622), Jamie McMurray (616)

Outside looking in: Ryan Newman (601), Kasey Kahne (564), Trevor Bayne (558), Ryan Blaney (545), AJ Allmendinger (544), Ricky Stenhouse (528)

Note: All others, through 30th place in points, must win one of the next two races to get in.

Gearhead stats

Winner's average speed: 162.742 mph

Time of race: 2 hours, 27 minutes, 29 seconds

Margin of victory: 1.478 seconds

Caution flags: Four for 17 laps

Lead changes: 20 among 13 drivers

Lap leaders: Logano 1-22; Smith 23; Logano 24-25; Harvick 26-57; Truex 58-64; Harvick 65; Elliott 66; Keselowski 67-70; Johnson 71-107; Elliott 108; Keselowski 109-117; Elliott 118-124; Larson 125-155; Keselowski 156; Kenseth 157-164; Dillon 165; Newman 166; Edwards 167; Biffle 168; Elliott 169-190; Larson 191-200

Up next

Southern 500, 6 p.m. Sunday, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway TV/radio: Ch. 8; 102.5-FM

Larson nabs first Sprint Cup win, spot in Chase for Championship 08/28/16 [Last modified: Sunday, August 28, 2016 10:37pm]
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