Lar­son takes over af­ter a late restart

In showdown be­tween two young stars, he catches El­liott with nine laps left

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Noah Tris­ter

BROOKLYN, MICH. — Dur­ing the last cou­ple of laps of his first Sprint Cup vic­tory, Kyle Lar­son was emo­tional.

“I think with two to go, I was start­ing to get choked up,” he said. “We worked re­ally, re­ally hard to get a win, and just haven’t done it. Fi­nally all the hard work by ev­ery­body, hun­dreds of peo­ple at our race shop, peo­ple who have got me through to the Cup Se­ries, it was all pay­ing off.”

Lar­son took the lead on a restart with nine laps re­main­ing and held off Chase El­liott in the Pure Michi­gan 400 at Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speed­way on Sun­day in a duel be­tween two of NASCAR’s up-and-com­ing stand­outs. El­liott had a com­fort­able lead be­fore a tire prob­lem on Michael An­nett’s car brought out the yel­low flag. Lar­son had the bet­ter restart and went on to win by 1.48 sec­onds. Brad Ke­selowski fin­ished third. Lar­son’s vic­tory in his No. 42 Chevro­let ended a 99-race los­ing streak for Chip Ganassi Rac­ing dat­ing to Jamie McMur­ray’s vic­tory at Tal­ladega in 2013.

Lar­son se­cured a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with two races left in the reg­u­lar sea­son. El­liott remains win­less, but is in solid shape to make the Chase field on points.

It was the 99th ca­reer start for the 24-year-old Lar­son, who had 14 top-five fin­ishes be­fore Sun­day but hadn’t won at the Cup level. The 20-year-old El­liott is win­less in 29 starts, but it was an im­pres­sive show­ing for him af­ter eight Kyle Lar­son For­mer Nationals man­ager Manny Acta and the Mariners will play the Rangers tonight TELE­VI­SION HIGHLIGHTS NASCAR MLB con­sec­u­tive races out­side the top 10.

El­liott fin­ished sec­ond at Michi­gan in June as well, los­ing to Joey Logano.

“That’s a cou­ple races in a row in just a few short months here at this place we had a re­ally good car, had an op­por­tu­nity,” El­liott said. “That’s one thing I try re­ally hard to do is make the most of op­por­tu­ni­ties when they’re pre­sented. Ob­vi­ously I didn’t do a very good job of that here both trips.”

El­liott led by 2.86 sec­onds with 28 laps to go Sun­day, and it looked as if Lar­son had missed his chance to catch him when he lost ground pass­ing a lapped car. The cau­tion gave him an­other chance, though, and he took ad­van­tage.

“We both spun our tires re­ally bad, and the No. 2 [Ke­selowski] pushed me re­ally good,” Lar­son said. “He could have prob­a­bly pulled un­der­neath me and went by, but he stayed with me­and­got methe lead.”

There were only four cau­tions in the 200-lap, 400-mile race. Lar­son led a race-high 41 laps. Logano, the pole win­ner, fin­ished 10th.

Chris Buescher, who has a vic­tory but still needs to stay in the top 30 in points to make the Chase, fin­ished 35th af­ter some early en­gine trou­ble. Buescher is seven points ahead of David Ra­gan for 30th place.

Alex Bow­man, fill­ing in for Dale Earn­hardt Jr. in the No. 88 car, had a prob­lem with the ig­ni­tion sys­tem and fin­ished 30th.

Twelve driv­ers have wrapped up Chase berths. Tony Ste­wart, who has a vic­tory, has clinched a top-30 fin­ish in points to se­cure his spot.

Buescher’s sit­u­a­tion is still un­cer­tain, so as many as four driv­ers could make it in on points. El­liott is 11th in the stand­ings, the top driver with no vic­to­ries.

Ron Fritz, Se­nior Ed­i­tor/Sports, 410-332-6421, fax: 410-783-2518, e-mail: sports@balt­sun.com

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