It was a repeat of last August Sunday as Kyle Larson won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Firekeeper Casino 400 at the track he won his first career race, Michigan International Speedway. Here’s how it all went down Sunday.
Larson from led the field to the green from the outside from his third career pole; Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.
Jimmie Johnson and AJ Allmendinger went to the rear of the field in backup cars, Daniel Suarez went to the rear of the field after his crew had to change a tire after qualifying. As the cars began pace laps, Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch were also sent to the rear of the field for unapproved body modifications.
Larson had the lead by turn 1 as Busch followed for second. Truex took third, Ryan Blaney fourth, Bowyer fifth. The first 18 cars were single file.
Truex grabbed second on lap 3.
Johnson was 25th by lap six, as the lead hovered around 1 second for Larson.
The days first caution came out on lap 7 for a large garbage bag floating around the frontstretch. With NASCAR having called a competition caution for lap 20 after heavy rain showers, no one was allowed to fuel. Johnson, Harvick and others outside the top 20 pitted for adjustments and tires.
NASCAR moved the competition caution to lap 25.
Green came out on lap 11. Larson again took the lead; Bowyer followed to second., Truex settled into third. Hamlin took third on lap 13. Truex took third on lap 16. Kyle Busch was fifth.
The lead for Larson was nearing two seconds over Bowyer by lap 20.
The competition caution, caution number 2 of the day, came out on lap 25.
The leaders all pitted. Larson was out first, followed by Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Truex and Bowyer. All took right side tires only.
Green came out on lap 30. Larson shot to the lead, Truex tried to follow, but as Larson moved away Kyle Busch began to slide back and suddenly it was three wide. When it was all sorted out, Truex was second, Blaney third, followed by Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.
Kyle Busch recovered by lap 32 and was back to fourth. He took third on lap 34. Up front Truex took the lead entering turn 3. Hamlin took fourth on lap 39. Bowyer was fifth.
Erik Jones made an unscheduled pit stop from 8th on lap 42 with a loose wheel. Johnson had moved to 10th on the same lap.
Truex was starting to lap the field by lap 48. His lead was 2.6 seconds,
As Stage 1 as coming to an end, Truex had a lead nearing 4 seconds and growing. Kenseth took fifth on lap 53.
Top 10 end of Stage 1: Truex, Larson, Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Kenseth, Bowyer, Blaney, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Johnson. Caution three came out to end the stage. The leaders pitted. Larson was out first followed by Truex, Kyle Busch, Kenseth and Logano. Hamlin, Blaney and Johnson had issues during the stop.
Green came out on lap 68.
Larson again shot to the lead; Kenseth and Truex dueled side by side for second with Kenseth getting the spot by the end of the lap.
By lap 74 the lead for Larson was up to 2 seconds. Harvick took fifth on lap 85.
The lead had shrunk to under a second by lap 93 as Larson worked through lapped traffic.
Kenseth was looking for the lead by lap 103. Deeper in the field, green flag pit stops started.
Kenseth pitted from second on lap 108. Larson and Truex pitted a lap later.
Kyle Busch took the lead having not pitted. Harvick was second, Hamlin third. Brad Keselowski was fourth. Busch pitted, Harvick followed on lap 111.
Brad Keselowski stayed out to take the lead. He pitted a lap later. Larson was back in the lead, with Truex close behind. Kyle Busch was third, Kenseth and Bowyer were fourth and fifth. Truex retook the lead on lap 116.
With two laps to go in Stage 2, Busch took second. Larson would have none of it and the two were soon side by side. Busch had the spot as the stage ended.
Top 10 Stage 2: Truex, Kyle Busch, Larson, Kenseth, Bowyer, Harvick, Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Elliott and Keselowski.
Caution four came out at the end of the stage. Several cars from eighth back pitted; the leaders stayed out.
The restart came on lap 127. Truex led on the outside, and took the lead; Kyle Busch on the inside fell into second. Kenseth was third, Larson was fourth, Harvick fifth. Harvick took fourth on lap 130, Larson fell back and was soon sixth behind Elliott.
The lead for Truex was being cut into by Busch by lap 140, it was under a half a second. Kenseth was distant third, three seconds back. Truex was pulling away again a few laps later.
Ryan Sieg spun on lap 160 exiting turn 4 in front of Truex. Truex nearly spun as well, but recovered. Caution five came out. the leaders pitted. Kyle Busch was out first followed by Jones, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Blaney; all had taken just two tires. Truex, Elliott, Kenseth, Larson and Harvick followed with four tires.
All drivers were told to save fuel as there were 47 laps to go, just inside the fuel window.
Green came out on lap 154. There were 30 cars on the lead lap.
Kyle Busch had a clear lead by turn 1. Blaney was second, Elliott third. Truex on the inside stumbled and fell back to ninth.
Larson was fourth, Earnhardt fifth.
With 38 laps to go, the lead was 1.5 seconds.
Elliott and Larson were fighting for third by lap 164; Larson grabbed the spot entering turn 1. The lead for Busch was just over two seconds with 30 laps to go.
Larson slowly reeled in Blaney and took second on lap 175. The lead was 2.3 seconds. Hamlin took fifth a lap later, Truex close behind. Truex took fifth from Hamlin on lap 178; NASCAR threw a caution for debris, number 6, on lap 179.
The top runners stayed out; Kenseth in ninth led a group behind him in to pit.
When the field sorted out the top 13 cars had stayed out.
The green came out on lap 185, 15 laps to go.
Larson was able to take the lead on the bottom; Kyle Busch was second, Elliott third. Hamlin fourth. Elliott had second by the end of the lap. But on the next lap, Bowyer got pushed up the hill in turn 1 and got into the wall; caution seven came out.
The leaders all stayed out.
The green came out on lap 190; 10 laps to go. Larson took the lead, as Blaney slipped back; he jammed up the field and soon it was a four-wide battle. Danica Patrick was out of control after contact with Suarez and being shot to the inside of the track; she hit hard on the inside wall caution eight was displayed. Blaney with a cut tire made it back to the pits, as di Harvick who was also part of the wad of cars.
Larson was credited with the lead as the restart came with 5 laps to go. Hamlin was second; Larson had the lead by the exit of turn 2. Elliott had second, Hamlin and Logano were side by side for third; Kyle Busch fell to eighth. Logano had the spot the next lap. McMurray was fifth; Truex was looking for the spot.
With two to go the lead was nearing a second.
The battle on the final lap was for fifth with McMurray and Truex. No one had anything for Larson as he scored his third career win. In a repeat of last August, Elliott was second. Logano took third, Hamlin fourth and McMurray held off Truex to take fifth.
Behind Truex, Kyle Busch was seventh, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was eighth, Earnhardt and Johnson rounded out the top 10.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series heads to Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota-Save Mart 350 next Sunday. Live coverage will be on Fox Sports 1 starting at 3:00 p.m. ET.
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