LARSON GETS SECOND CUP WIN OF '17
By Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter
BROOKLYN, Mich.--Kyle Larson is on a roll. After getting his first Cup win of the season in March at California, he added win number two this past Sunday at Michigan.
It was tough out there, said Larson. We had a great car, but several other guys wanted it too. There was a lot of pushing and shoving on that last restart. It was difficult getting away, but once we did, I felt pretty comfortable with my car.
Kyle Busch was leading the race when a caution came out on lap 179 of the 200-lap race, for debris on the track. Larson and several others stayed on the track, and when the race went back to green, the new leaders were Larson and Chase Elliott.
Five laps later, on lap 190, Danica Patrick got tangled up with some other cars and hit the inside wall, bringing out the race's last caution.
When green flag racing resumed on lap 195, it was Larson, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, and Joey Logano.
Larson pulled away, while Hamlin and Logano got into a bumping and shoving match with each other, allowing Chase Elliott to move back into the number two position.
We had a pretty strong car, said Elliott. We were in a good position several times, but we just wasn't able to get it done.
By the time Logano had gotten by Hamlin, it was too late to challenge for the lead, and he finished third.
We outperformed our car, said Logano. We had about a fifth-place car, so to come away from all those late restarts with a third-place, was good.
Hamlin was fourth, followed by Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jimmie Johnson.
Martin Truex won both stages of the race.
Much like in the first stage, Kyle Larson led the bulk of Stage 2 laps (47) in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet but lost the stage to Martin Truex Jr., who captured his 10th stage win of the season in the No. 78 Toyota.
Truex led only the last six laps of Stage 2 but took all 10 stage points due to being the top finisher and the all important playoff point.
Truex has three times as many Cup Series stage wins as Larson (3) and more than twice as many as Kyle Busch (4). Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney also have three stage wins.
Top-10 leaders after 15 of 36: 1. Larson-640, 2. Truex-635, 3. Kyle Busch-510, 4. Harvick-508, 5. Elliott-478, 6. Keselowski-476, 7. McMurray-450, 8. Johnson-449, 9. Hamlin-430, 10. Logano-398.
HAMLIN OVERTAKES BYRON FOR MICHIGAN WIN
Cup Series regular Denny Hamlin caught and passed William Byron less than a hundred yards from the finish line to win Saturday's Xfinity Series race by 12/thousandths of a second.
Byron was the leader on the last restart, which was a green/white/finish. He got out front of Hamlin, and led for nearly two laps, but Hamlin caught up with him near the finish line, and barely squeezed out his first win of the season.
The remaining top-10 finishers: 2. Byron, 3. Elliott Sadler, 4. Brad Keselowski, 5. Kyle Busch, 6. Ty Dillon, 7. Paul Menard, 8. Ryan Reed, 9. Brandon Jones, 10. Cole Custer.
Top-10 leaders after 13 of 33: 1. Sadler-460, 2. Allgaier-439, 3. Byron-388, 4. Hemric-339, 5. B. Poole-326, 6. Reed-325, 7. Wallace Jr.-321, 8. Custer-309, 9. Tifft-295, 10. Annett-293.
Here are the results of the Truck Series race, which was run Sat., June 17 at Madison IL: l. John Nemechek, 2. Chase Briscoe, 3. Johnny Sauter, 4. Matt Crafton, 5. Grant Enfinger, 6. Christopher Bell, 7. Ryan Truex, 8. Ben Rhodes, 9. Noah Gragson, 10. Justin Haley.
Top-10 leaders after 8 of 23: 1. Sauter-380, 2. Bell-342, 3. Crafton-318, 4. Briscoe-311, 5. Rhodes-281, 6. Enfinger-265, 7. R. Truex-265, 8. Grala-234, 9. Nemechek-228, 10. Gragson-209.
JOHNSON RE-UPS WITH HENDRICK
Jimmie Johnson has signed a new three-year deal that will keep him at Hendrick Motorsports through 2020, the team announced last Friday.
Hendrick Motorsports also announced that sponsor Lowe's has signed an extension through the 2018 season.
Both contracts were set to expire after this season.
My relationship with Lowe's, Hendrick Motorsports and all of my teammates means so much to me, said the 41-year-old Johnson, who has recorded seven NASCAR Cup championships. I remember hoping to just win one race. Winning seven championships and 83 races was inconceivable, and now we have the opportunity to do even more together. It says a lot to have one sponsor, one crew chief and one team for so long. I couldn't be more proud to represent everyone at Lowe's and Hendrick Motorsports, and I continue to be as grateful for the opportunity as I was when we started.
Car owner Rick Hendrick issued the following statement:Jimmie is one of the best to ever drive. We're so fortunate to have him as part of our organization, and I feel even luckier to call him a friend. He's a great champion, a terrific advocate for Lowe's and a true ambassador for NASCAR. There's no better person, and he's as good in the race car today as he's ever been.
Lowe's has served as Johnson's sponsor at Hendrick since he drove three Cup races in 2001. Johnson began running the full season in 2002.
It's been amazing to ride alongside Jimmie, Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 48 team as we continue to make history, said Julie Cunningham, director of marketing at Lowe's. We look forward to more great moments and unique opportunities to reach fans on and off the track together.
Crew chief Chad Knaus' contract runs through the 2018 season.
Meanwhile, the clock is running against Johnson's teammate Kasey Kahne.
Kahne, the driver of Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet is winless in the last 97 Cup races. He has accumulated 17 wins during his fourteen year career, but hasn't been doing too well. He only has three top-10 finishes after 15 races into the 2017 season, which is not good.
Kahne hasn't made the playoffs the past two seasons and shows no signs of making them this season, and has lost two major, longtime sponsors in Farmers Insurance and Great Clips.
But NASCAR isn't his only interest. He has a huge investment personally and professionally in his World of Outlaws sprint car operations. It is located in Mooresville, North Carolina, and employs over 15 people. His dirt track operation has grown and grown since its inception. At one time he had four sprint teams, but lost one due to lack of sponsorship.
Kahne is a winner. He's won in the past, and it's hard to say what his problem is. He won at least one race a year in eight of his first 11 seasons. Most of those years were spent with some teams that were in poor financial situations. He even won a race with Red Bull Racing the year it closed its doors.
Kahne is a great driver and the sport needs more like him, but he needs a breakthrough win. His contract runs through the 2018 season, but a lack of sponsorship for the upcoming season and poor performance could be a problem for his NASCAR plans next year.
Weekend Racing: The Trucks and Xfinity teams will be at the seven-eighths-mile Iowa Speedway, with the Cup cars having their first road course race of the year at Sonoma, California.
Fri., June 23; Truck Series race 9 of 23; Starting time: 8:30 pm ET; TV: Fox Sports 1.
Sat., June 24; Xfinity Series race 14 of 33; Starting time: 8:30 pm ET; TV: Fox Sports 1.
Sun., June 25; Cup Series race 16 of 36; Starting time: 3 pm ET; TV: Fox Sports 1.
Racing Trivia Question: Where did Dale Earnhardt Jr. get his first Cup win?
Last Week's Question: Daniel Suarez is the rookie driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Toyota. Where is his hometown? Answer. He is from Monterrey, Mexico.
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