Larson Prevails on Late Race Restarts to Secure Victory in Michigan

Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Kyle Larson was able to hold off Chase Elliott late in the FireKeepers Casino 400 at the Michigan International Speedway to win his second race of 2017. Elliott made a pass on Denny Hamlin as he fell from second on a late-race restart and was able to hold off a hard charging Joey Logano, who had two fresh tires, to finish second.

The first two stages of the race were fairly tame as Larson and Martin Truex, Jr. would trade the lead back and forth a few times, but it was ultimately Truex who would pick up two more stage wins and playoff points. Truex racked up both his ninth and 10th stage wins, which is six more than any other driver in the field.

As the final stage was set to get under way, split strategies resulted in the leaders staying out while Kurt Busch led a select few lead lap cars down pit road to get tires after pitting for fuel only on the last stop. Truex and the younger Busch would lead the field to the green flag to start the final stage of the race. A side-by-side battle at the entrance of the turn would be ended by a blast of speed for Truex at the exit of turn one who would rocket to a commanding lead.

The caution would come out at Lap 150 for a spin involving Ryan Sieg right in front of Truex, who took evasive action to miss the No. 23 Toyota. The field would come down pit road for what was expected to be the final stop of the afternoon. Kyle Busch took two right side tires along with Jones, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Blaney. Truex took four tires and would come off pit road in fifth.

Shortly after the restart, discussions would start that the No. 18 car didn’t get the car full of fuel and would be short but the team would gamble and tell Busch to save fuel. Busch would continue to lead over Blaney and Elliott and would move into a zip code of his own. Larson would start pacing his way back through the field making it all the way to third with 30 laps to go and then to second with less than 25 to go when the caution came out for debris..

Kenseth led the field down pit road, but surprisingly, Busch stayed out along with the first 14 cars on the lead lap. Busch and Larson would start on the front row with 15 laps to go. Larson made a move in the middle of turn one to take the lead from Kyle Busch. While Larson seemed to be off to the win, another caution with 14 to go caution would be displayed once again for a right side tire down on the No. 14 of Bowyer.

With 10 laps to go the green flag would come back out, but it again wouldn’t last. Blaney began struggling and then was forced four-wide on the backstretch resulting in Daniel Suarez being sent into Darrell Wallace Jr., who clipped Suarez into the No. 10 of Danica Patrick. Patrick went sliding down the backstretch into the wall, ending her day.

Larson would lead the field back to green with 5 laps to go with Denny Hamlin on his inside. Hamlin tried to work up a run on Larson, but didn’t have the grip to contend, falling out of contention. Larson would lead the final laps securing his second victory of the season and third career victory.

The full race results can be found below.

About Christian Koelle 229 Articles
An Ooltewah, TN native, Christian has been writing since July of 2015. In 2017, Christian transitioned from his own blog to a few different websites, joining OnPitRoad in February. In 2005 Christian attended his first race as a fan at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. He’s been around racing his entire life and enjoys being at the track more than anything. He made his media debut at Bristol in 2015. His favorite tracks are Iowa Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Phoenix. He enjoys talking about racing with just about anyone and makes occasional appearances on numerous radio shows across the country. In his time attending races he’s attended almost ninety races among the six racing series. Along with NASCAR, He loves Minor and Major League Baseball. He’s a Minnesota Twins and Chattanooga Lookouts. He also enjoys watching Iowa State Cyclones college football.