Michigan Checkered and Black Flags

K.Larson

MRN's Pete Pistone goes through the good and bad from the weekend at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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The good and bad from the weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

Checkered Flags 

Kyle Larson
The two-mile master was at it again on Sunday, when Larson drove a masterful race - especially down the stretch when he navigated through a series of late cautions and restarts to win for the second time this season. Larson has three career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories and they’ve all come on two-mile tracks of Michigan and Auto Club Speedway.

Chase Elliott
It wasn’t Elliott’s coveted first career Cup win, but second place was the latest example of how the sophomore driver has turned things around in recent weekends. June’s been a good month for Elliott and he kept his streak alive of finishing second in all three career Michigan starts.

Joey Logano
In his own words, Logano "stopped the bleeding" with his third-place performance Sunday in Michigan, ending a stretch of races that have been frustrating. Logano qualified well and finished even better, hopefully the sign of better things to come for his legion of fans.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Speaking of fans, "Junior Nation" had to be pleased with the effort and results of their favorite driver on Sunday. A top-10 finish is still a long way from Victory Lane, but it’s a step forward for Earnhardt, who's looking for much brighter things in the second half of the regular season.

Gateway Motorsports Park
Saturday’s night’s Camping World Truck Series race at the facility just outside St. Louis was, by all accounts, a home run. A large crowd came out despite dire warnings about potential severe weather and they were treated to a good race with a popular winner in young John Hunter Nemechek, who celebrated in Victory Lane with his dad, Joe, on the eve of Father’s Day. Fans who want more stand-alone races need to take a page out of the Gateway plan on Saturday and put their money where their mouths are.

Black Flags 

FireKeepers Casino 400
It was bound to happen in a season that has so far featured stellar competition. Sunday’s Cup Series race at Michigan was less than memorable. Only four drivers led the race as clean air helped propel to leader to a significant advantage. Hopefully, as the track surface ages it will become wider and allow drivers more opportunities for side-by-side racing.

Danica Patrick
Wrong place at the wrong time again for Patrick, who got caught up in a backstretch accident not of her doing. When it ended, Patrick took yet another hard impact into the inside wall, something she’s done too many times in her NASCAR career.

Kasey Kahne
Not sure the frustration level can get any higher for Kahne, who struggled yet again in Michigan and posted a disappointing 21st-place finish. Kahne took to Twitter again to express his weariness of finishing near the bottom.

Clint Bowyer
He had a decent day going until hitting the wall late, triggering the series of cautions and restarts that ultimately decided the race. Bowyer is still looking to end his 164-race winless drought and didn’t have a chance to do that on Sunday.

Kyle Busch
Last week at Pocono, Busch did all he could do to block Ryan Blaney and keep him from passing for the lead and eventually winning. But you live by the block and you die by the block, as was proven in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. Busch slid in front of Brad Keselowski a couple times at the drop of the green flag in an attempt to keep him behind. The second block saw contact between the two and Busch essentially crashed himself. He recovered to finish fifth, but the lesson is that if you want to block, be prepared to handle the potential repercussions when it goes wrong.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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