Michigan Rear-View Mirror

Kyle Larson

It’s not where you start but where you finish.

That statement rang loud and true for Kyle Larson Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

Actually Larson’s Sunday started with a late night return from the Knoxville Nationals, where he finished second to Donny Schatz in Saturday night’s main event. Thanks to team co-owner Chip Ganassi relaxing his rules governing Larson’s racing outside the NASCAR world, he got an opportunity to almost win sprint car racing’s biggest event.

But Larson found the best way to pay back Ganassi with his thrilling win in the Pure Michigan 400.

In a race that would have otherwise been mostly forgettable, Larson pulled off one of the most memorable passes in recent history with a daring move past Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones and others in an overtime restart to score the win.

It’s ironic that Larson, a short track racing master behind the wheel of an open wheel car, has four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in his career and they’ve all come on two-time tracks in Michigan and Auto Club Speedway. His triumph Sunday was his third straight at MIS.

After a summer off the radar, Larson was back in spectacular form on Sunday.

It was the perfect finish to his 24-hour odyssey.

  • There are only three races left in the regular season and it’s beginning to become clear the point standings will decide at least two if not three of the final spots remaining to run for the championship. Larson’s win Sunday along with Truex Jr.’s strong outing reconfirmed just how dominant the two drivers have been this year. Joey Logano remains the most prominent of those on the outside looking in because of his encumbered Richmond win in April not counting toward the playoffs and it’s definitely “do or die” time for the Team Penske No. 22 team at Bristol, Darlington and the return trip to Richmond, where the irony will be incredibly ripe if Logano wins there – legally – to qualify for the playoffs.
  • Drivers around the Cup garage aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on a number of issues these days. Topping the list are Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., after Harvick’s contention on his Sirius XM NASCAR Radio show Junior’s popularity “stunted the growth of NASCAR.” Earnhardt has mostly taken the high road in the situation opting to say publicly he’d welcome a conversation about what Harvick said but did admit to the words being “hurtful.” It’s possible to see both sides to this story and what Harvick said having more than a little truth to it without being completely correct. His observation that the sport’s most popular driver is not the most successful is spot on, but many fans don’t seem to have a problem separating the two.
  • Brad Keselowski triggered some point response from a few of his competitors after accusing Toyota teams being told to “kind of tune it down” this weekend in Michigan after qualifying. "We've seen the last two or three weeks that the Toyota cars are pretty dominant," Keselowski said. "We had a strong suspicion that those guys would kind of tune it down this weekend, so not to post a pretty big number in inspection that maybe balanced back out the competition, and potentially that's right because our team hasn't done much differently and those guys are just not as fast as they've been the last few weeks." Not surprisingly a pair of Toyota drivers disagreed with the Ford driver’s sentiment. "Brad's a (blank] moron," Kyle Busch said to ESPN. "We don't just turn it down. We actually have a new engine package here this week. He's a moron." Denny Hamlin Tweeted “#fakenees by someone trying to control the rhetoric.” If only there were as many actual on track rivalries as there are on radio shows, media availabilities and social media these days.
  • Saturday I worked pit road on the MRN broadcast of the Mid-Ohio Challenge XFINITY Series race. Now I know how reporters feel after covering the Rolex 24-Hours of Daytona. Although the actual time of Saturday’s race at the twisting Ohio road course wasn’t as long as the twice around the clock endurance event, sometimes it felt that way. Lots of cautions and two red flags stretched the race to a length even longer than last year’s event, which was held in the rain. It was at times maddening, but overall the fifth appearance by NASCAR’s number two division at Mid-Ohio was also compelling and entertaining. NXS teams get one more shot at road course madness to end the month with the annual trek to Road America.
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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