BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kyle Larson took the lead late and then survived two late-race restarts to win his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the year Sunday at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
Larson led a race-high 96 laps from the pole, but seemed to fade during longer runs. He found himself chasing Kyle Busch late in the race as they both attempted to stretch their fuel to the finish following a caution with 50 laps left that allowed teams to hit pit road for fuel and tires.
That strategy went out the door when a caution flag waved with 21 laps left for debris. About half the field pitted, but Busch and Larson stayed out and would restart on the front row with 15 laps left. Busch picked the preferred outside lane for the restart, putting Larson on the bottom for the restart.
When the race resumed Larson got a push from Pocono winner Ryan Blaney in third, which kept him to Busch’s inside as they raced into turn one. Larson was able to pull in front of Busch through turns one and two and clear him coming out of the corner.
Larson began to put some distance between himself and the fight for second, which saw Chase Elliott slip by Busch on the next lap. The caution flag waved again shortly thereafter as Clint Bowyer pancaked his No. 14 Ford into the outside wall in turns one and two.
For the restart Larson took the top lane with Elliott on the bottom. Busch lined up third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Blaney. Joey Logano, who had taken two fresh tires during the previous caution flag, was up to sixth after restarting 15th during the previous restart.
The green flag waved again with 10 laps to go. Larson used the side draft to his advantage down the frontstretch, pulling clear of Elliott through turns one and two. Behind them Blaney got loose and backed up through the field, stacking up the field as they raced out of turn two.
As Blaney exited turn two Harvick got to his inside and the pair made contact. Several drivers dove low under the pair, with Darrell Wallace Jr. making slight contact with Daniel Suarez, which turned him into Danica Patrick in the low lane. Patrick then spun and slammed the inside wall, leading to another caution period.
Larson was still out front for the ensuing restart, but Hamlin was now up to second with Elliott and Logano in the second row. Busch, McMurry and Martin Truex Jr. were next in line.
The race resumed with five laps left and Larson and Hamlin immediately went toe to toe for the race lead. Larson used another perfect side draft on Hamlin as they raced into turn one, easily clearing him to maintain the top spot.
From there Larson pulled away from the battle for second, which saw Elliott and Logano get around Hamlin in the closing laps. Neither of them had anything for Larson, who pulled away to his third career NASCAR Cup Series victory and second-straight at Michigan Int’l Speedway.