Michigan Rear-View Mirror


Kyle Larson leads the field to the green flag on Sunday at MIS. (Photo: Getty Images)


Kyle Larson and two-mile tracks are a match made in NASCAR heaven.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver scored his third career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win Sunday in the Firekeepers Casino 400 giving him two wins at MIS and one at sister two-mile oval Auto Club Speedway.

Larson achieved win No. 2 of the season with another fast car from the CGR stable, solid pit stops and two great restarts in the late going. He was able to stay ahead of the field at two critical junctures when a pair of caution flags bunched up the field on the ensuing restarts and once he cleared the pack on the day’s final green he was off to Victory Lane.

Michigan proved to be a track where once again fuel mileage played a role, although those strategies were somewhat negated when in the flurry of late race cautions.

But Sunday’s race at MIS also displayed how the importance of the dreaded “clean air” and the aerodynamic challenges the sport continues to battle. Once ahead of the field, the leader was in cruise control anytime there were extended green flag laps.

The hope is somehow a second groove will be created by the time NASCAR returns to Michigan in August to give drivers another option.

But for now Larson would be very happy to see nothing change at MIS later this summer as he shoots for a third straight win.

  • Michigan has morphed into the fastest track in NASCAR with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars now hitting over 210 mph coming into the corners. The combination of the lesser downforce package, track surface and engineering advancements in creating horsepower have all combined for the eye-popping numbers. But at what cost? Drivers cannot pass one another when holding on to their cars as they rocket through the corners, which has had an impact on competition. Slowing the cars down across the board would seem to be a solution that would create better opportunities for side-by-side racing. I’ve never been one impressed with a number on a board whether it be in qualifying or a race. What I want and most fans would agree with is more competition. How NASCAR can knock speed out of the cars is the $64,000 question but it would be a worthwhile quest in the never-ending search to create an even better on track product.
  • The “Silly Season” machine was once again working overtime over the weekend with several new interesting scenarios being discussed around the garage areas. GMS Motorsports is reportedly considering a move up from the Truck Series and XFINITY Series to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series level, which would bring a new seat to the top division. Who would drive that car is anybody’s guess. A hot rumor early last week was a potential move by Brad Keselowski, still not signed for an extension with Team Penske beyond this year, to Hendrick’s No. 88 ride being vacated by the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ryan Blaney to Penske, Paul Menard to the Wood Brothers and changes at Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports are also all being discussed.
  • I worked pit road for Saturday night’s MRN broadcast of the Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway Motorsports Park and was encouraged by the enthusiasm and support around the St. Louis area. Despite a somewhat bleak weather forecast of severe storms and rain (which never materialized until well after Midnight), a very strong crowd turned out to what turned out to be an interesting race. The track continues to undergo positive change and with the addition of an IndyCar race later this summer, Gateway is trending upward once again. NASCAR’s presence in the market is important to that growth and since returning to the track three years ago, the Truck Series has provided a nice spark to its renaissance.
  • From all of us at the Motor Racing Network, our sincere wishes for a Happy Father’s Day. I’m blessed to be a dad and to have had one who brought me into the racing world. NASCAR is one of the most family-centric sports in the world and Father’s Day weekend is always a very special time to celebrate and recognize those cherished relationships.

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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