Kyle Larson earned his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win Sunday, prevailing over Chase Elliott to take the checkered flag in the pure Michigan 400 from Michigan International Speedway.
For Larson, a Sprint Cup win has been a long time coming. The 24-year old finished second at Fontana, Loudon and Kansas in 2015 and was second at Dover this year, but Sunday, in his 99th Sprint Cup start, he managed to make it happen.
Late in the race, one of the only other drivers who appeared to have a shot at the win was Chase Elliott – another one of NASCAR’s young and winless. Larson was leading when the two pitted under green flag conditions on Lap 158, but after the sequence, it was Elliott who had the top spot.
“I thought that was the race right there,” Kyle Larson admitted to NASCAR.com post-race.
He didn’t give up, though, and slowly trimmed the gap to Elliott. A caution flag for debris then came out, setting the field up for a final restart on Lap 191. Both Larson and Elliott spun their tires when the green came back out, but Larson eventually pulled out the gap over Elliott and took the checkered flag.
“This feels different for me because it’s taken me a lot longer than in any of the other stuff to get a win,” Larson said. “It took me a couple of months to win my first sprint car race … a few months to win when I got into USAC. I guess it took me a few years to win an Outlaw race, but I’d still been winning sprint car races.
“But this, after the way my rookie season started, coming close a few times, not getting it done, you can visualize the win that early in your career. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. But it just never happened.