Lar­son at home in Michi­gan

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Ge­orge Sip­ple @Ge­orgeSip­ple

Driver takes sec­ond straight Michi­gan NASCAR race

It was a great week­end for Kyle Lar­son and Cars 3.

Cars 3 fin­ished No. 1 in the movie box of­fice over the week­end. Lar­son drove the No. 42

Cars 3/ Tar­get Chevro­let to vic­tory at Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speed­way in the Mon­ster En­ergy NASCAR Cup Se­ries FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sun­day.

Lar­son started from the pole, led 96 of the 200 laps and won a five-lap shootout to give him­self a Fa­ther’s Day present.

Lar­son has won the last two races at Michi­gan, fol­low­ing up his Au­gust vic­tory that was his first at the Cup level.

Lar­son also won the Au­gust 2016 race at Michi­gan and now has three Cup se­ries ca­reer wins.

He also re­gained the lead in the sea­son points stand­ings over Martin Truex Jr., who fin­ished sixth.

Truex claimed each of the first two stages in the race.

“The 78 (Truex) was by far the class of the field, I thought,” Lar­son said. “I know I led a lot of laps. Seemed like when­ever he wanted to get the lead, he hit a nitro but­ton and would cruise up to the lead, then check out. He was the class of the field.

“I thought we were prob­a­bly a third- or fourth-place car. To come out a win­ner, it makes it that much more ex­cit­ing, I guess.

“I guess it would be dis­ap­point­ing if I fin­ished out­side the top 10 or some­thing. For not hav­ing the dom­i­nant car, to do ev­ery­thing right to get a win to­day, was spe­cial.”

Kyle Busch was lead­ing be­fore a cau­tion came out for de­bris on lap 181 for four laps. Lar­son went in­side to pass Busch on the restart.

“Ryan Blaney gave me a heck of a push,” Lar­son said. “So I’ve re­ally got to thank him a ton. I knew the Penske cars took off good, so I was happy to see him behind me. For us to with­stand a few restarts there with some tough com­peti­tors there was pretty im­por­tant. I can’t thank these guys enough.

“The Cars 3 Chevy was re­ally, re­ally fast. And it was cool to win it. What a great Fa­ther’s Day present for my­self and all the other fa­thers out there. My dad is here to­day, too. So I’m look­ing for­ward to cel­e­brat­ing with him.

“We’ve been so close to so many other wins. This is our sec­ond Cup win of the year, but we’ve had six sec­ond-place fin­ishes (in­clud­ing the All- Star Race). All-in-all, it’s a good sea­son so far, and we’ll con­tinue to keep build­ing on what we’ve got.”

Chase El­liott, who Lar­son held off in the fi­nal stretch, earned his third top-five fin­ish in a row at Michi­gan and his ninth top-10 of 2017.

“We had a cou­ple of op­por­tu­ni­ties to get the lead,” El­liott said. “And, un­for­tu­nately, it just didn’t work out. But we’ll move on. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Kyle.

“He had a fast car to­day, and we’ll try to go get ’ em next week.”

Joey Logano fin­ished third in the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske. Logano said it was good to “stop the bleed­ing.”

“You have no idea how good this feels,” Logano said.

Denny Ham­lin fin­ished fourth, and Jamie McMur­ray was fifth.

It was a dis­ap­point­ing day for Brad Ke­selowski. The Rochester Hills, Mich., na­tive fin­ished 16th.

“We just weren’t re­ally where we needed to be,” Ke­selowski said. “We had a few bright spots, but we couldn’t get it there at the end.”

MIKE DINOVO, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Kyle Lar­son posted his sec­ond vic­tory of 2017.

MIKE DINOVO, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

“What a great Fa­ther’s Day present for my­self and all the other fa­thers out there,” Kyle Lar­son said af­ter win­ning Sun­day.

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