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posted August 13, 2017
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Larson Steals Win at Michigan
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LARSON STEALS WIN AT MICHIGAN
By Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter
BROOKLYN, Mich.--Kyle Larson out drove Martin Truex Jr., on the last restart of Sunday's Cup Series race to claim his third win of the season.
   The race was sent into a green-white-checkered overtime finish after a caution on lap 197 of the 200-lap race. Larson, who had not led any laps up to that point was lined up fourth on the outside, behind Truex, the leader. As soon as the green flag was given, Larson moved down on the track and was able to pull alongside Truex's No. 78 Chevrolet.
   By the time the front runners had reached turn-2, Larson was the new leader, and pulled away from the other cars. Truex, who appeared to have the faster car was able to regain his momentum, but it was too late. Larson crossed the finish line .31-seconds ahead of him.
   “There was only a few options for me to win” said Larson. “I knew his car was probably faster than mine, so I had to get a run on him and slip by him on the restart. Things worked out and this is an awesome win for us.”
   It was a winning week for Larson. In addition to winning Sunday's Cup race, he won two sprint car races Saturday night in Iowa, then flew back to Michigan.
   Truex, led 3 times for 57 laps.
   “I tried to do something different and it didn't work,” said Truex. “I spun my tires. He hit me and got the run he needed. It was just one of those deals, where you wish you had done something else. Today wasn't our day.”
   Truex's teammate Erik Jones finished third.
   “Wow, a win would have been really great,” said Jones. “But today wasn't too bad. We struggled, but there at the end we had a pretty good run.”
   Ryan Newman, who has one Cup win this season was fourth.
   “We ended the race pretty good,” said Newman. “We came from a 25th starting spot, worked through a lot of things, both on the track and in the pits, so I'm happy.”
   Trevor Bayne was fifth, followed by Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, and Kyle Busch.
   Polesitter Brad Keselowski won Stage 1 and led 105 laps, while Truex was the winner of Stage 2.
   Except for the final restart, the race wasn't one of the most exciting of the season, but it was fast. Several cars reached speeds of 215 miles per hour on the 2-mile oval, while Brad Keselowski hit 217 mph, the fastest attained during a race by any driver this season.
   There were only three caution periods for wrecks. The biggest one came during lap 143. Kasey Kahne got loose coming out of turn-2 and slid up into the rear of Daniel Suarez. Kahne slammed into the outside wall, while Suarez slid down into the inside wall. Both drivers were done for the day.
   “I don't know what happened,” said rookie Suarez. “I was holding my line coming out of the turn. When he got into me, I started spinning, and there was nothing I could do.”
   Top-10 leaders after 23 of 36 races. The points will be reset after the Richmond race on Sept. 9, and only the top-16 will be eligible for this year's Chase. 1. Truex-933, 2. Larson-804, 3. Kyle Busch-797, 4. Harvick-787, 5. Keselowski-720, 6. Hamlin-710, 7. Elliott-685, 8. McMurray-675, 9. Kenseth-654, 10. Bowyer-623.
   Results of the NASCAR Xfinity Series road course race held Sat., Aug. 12 at Lexington, OH: 1. Sam Hornish, 2. Daniel Hemric, 3. Matt Tifft, 4. James Davison, 5. Andy Lally, 6. Elliott Sadler, 7. Brendan Gaughan, 8. Brennan Poole, 9. Justin Marks, 10. Dakoda Armstrong.
   Top-10 Xfinity leaders after 21 of 33: 1. Sadler-763, 2. Byron-682, 3. Allgaier-621, 4. B. Poole-581, 5. Hemric-567, 6. Custer-505, 7. Tifft-494, 8. Reed-457, 9. Armstrong-431, 10. Koch-431.
   Results of the Truck Series race held Sat., Aug. 12 at Brooklyn, Mich.: 1. Darrell Wallace Jr., 2. Christopher Bell, 3. Kyle Busch, 4. Ryan Truex, 5. Austin Cindric, 6. Matt Crafton, 7. Noah Gragson, 8. Grant Enfinger, 9. Chase Briscoe, 10. Justin Haley.
   Top-10 Truck leaders after 13 of 23: 1. Bell-572, 2. Sauter-535, 3. Crafton-510, 4. Briscoe-509, 5. R. Truex-431, 6. Rhodes-426, 7. Enfinger-412, 8. Nemechek-404, 9. Gragson-382, 10. Cindric-361.
NASCAR AND TEAMS GOING TO YOUTH
   It seems like NASCAR is becoming more youth oriented.
   Each year fans see more and more of the old drivers put out to pasture. The latest move came last week, when Hendrick Motorsports announced that 37-year-old Kasey Kahne would not be returning to the team's No. 5 Chevrolet in 2018.
   Replacing him will be 19-year-old William Byron.
   Kahne had another year to go on his contract, but  Rick Hendrick said he is paying Kahne for the entire 2018 season.
   “It's not so much the money, it's about building for the future, getting a fresh start,” said Hendrick.      “We talked to people. It got close to some deals (for Kasey Kahne), we had some deals that drug out too long and it wasn't fair to Kasey or me. … But when William is running like William is running, to me, I don't do this for the money. I do this to win and it's our brand. So I'm investing in the future all the time.
   “At every step, William has proven how quickly he can adapt. Some drivers have raw talent and some have a strong work ethic. William has both. It's impressive to see a young guy who never gets rattled and instinctively knows how to communicate with his team. That level of commitment, poise and pure ability is rare at any age. I think he's just scratching the surface.”
   Hendrick Motorsports 2018 teams will consist of Byron, 21-year-old Chase Elliott, 24-year-old Alex Bowman, and “Old Man” Jimmie Johnson, who will turn 43 in November.
   What's the meaning of NASCAR teams suddenly going to younger studs? From what I understand it's been happening very gradually in the past, but now younger drivers are all the rage. The bottom line is about sponsorship. I don't think Hendrick would have replaced Kasey Kahne had he been able to land a sponsor. We can only assume that the big corporations want to identify with the younger generation. The people that provide the money are dictating the terms.
   My daddy used to say, 'the tail is wagging the dog'. It is what it is. That's the way the sport is going.
   Meanwhile Ron Thornton of Speedway Media came up with some interesting statements made by Kevin Harvick last week about Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    Harvick made some headlines on his radio show when he laid blame for the sport's lack of progress in recent years in the lap of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  “For me, I believe that Dale Jr. has had a big part in kind of stunting the growth of NASCAR because he's got these legions of fans and this huge outreach of being able to reach different places that none of us have the possibility to reach, but he's won nine races in 10 years at Hendrick Motorsports and hasn't been able to reach outside of that,” Harvick said.
   In an interview prior to the Michigan race, Earnhardt refused to elaborate on Harvick's comments, but did say his words were “hurtful”.
   So, is Junior a “big part in kind of stunting the growth of NASCAR?” Send us an e-mail (hodges@race500.com) giving your opinion. In turn, we'll send you a photo of Junior.
Weekend Racing: The NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, and Truck teams are at the .54-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.
Wed., Aug. 16; Truck Series race 14 of 23; Starting time: 8:30 pm ET; TV: FoxSports 1.
Fri., Aug. 18; Xfinity Series race 22 of 33; Starting time: 7:30 pm ET; TV: NBCSN.
Sat., Aug. 19; Cup Series race 24 of 36; Starting time: 7:30 pm ET; TV: NBC.
   Racing Trivia Question: Which track is the largest on the NASCAR circuit?
   Last Week's Question: Where does the final race of the 2017 Cup Series end? Answer. Homestead, Florida on Nov. 19.
   Gerald Hodges is a syndicated NASCAR writer and author. You may contact him by e-mail at: hodges@race500.com.