Length: 2 Miles
Banking: Turns: 18°, Start/Finish: 12°, Backstretch: 5°
This past Sunday, NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series returned to Michigan International Speedway and ran what could only be descried as the most uneventful race of the year so far. Despite revisiting the low downforce package which was run at Michigan this past June, the Pure Michigan 400 only saw 4 caution flags throughout the day. The package reduced the spoiler size from 3.5 to 2.5 inches, reduced the splitter two inches and also resized the deck fin.
The first caution of the day was the competition caution on Lap 20. Until that point, pole-sitter Joey Logano had led all laps. However, when the race restarted, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, took the lead. At Lap 27, Kyle Busch got loose and spun out on the grass. Luckily, all approaching cars were able to swerve and avoid him.
Alex Bowman, who was filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr (still out with concussion-like symptoms) experienced engine troubles early in the race. Despite qualifying sixth and maintaining a top ten spot until the problem started, the young substitute went on to finish 30th and five laps down.
Later in the race, on Lap 119, the third caution was brought out for debris on the race track. When the field restarted, Kyle Larson took the lead. With 50 laps remaining, crew chiefs started warning drivers that there was an impending threat of rain on the radar. Rain has been prevalent throughout the month of August, with rescheduled races seen in Pocono as well as Bristol. Thankfully, however, the rain held off this time, and the Pure Michigan 400 was able to finish.
As the last round of green flag pit stops completed, rookie Chase Elliott assumed the lead and held off Kyle Larson until Lap 189 when the fourth and final caution of the day came out for a blown tire on the no. 46 of Michael Annett.
Both front row cars of Elliott and Larson spun their tires when the race restarted with only 9 laps to go. Larson however, was able to get a good push from the #2 Miller Lite car of Brad Keselowski, who restarted directly behind him. Unfortunately, an overzealous Ryan Blaney, who restarted behind Elliott, pushed so hard that he lifted Elliott’s back tires. This caused both cars to swerve, resulting in bad restarts. Kyle Larson went on to win the first Sprint Cup Race of his career while Chase Elliott placed 2nd, ironically for the second time this year at Michigan International Speedway.
In the post race interview, an excited Larson was having noticeable difficulty answering questions and eventually commented, “I’m sort of at a loss for words right now. My adrenaline is going crazy right now. Thanks to all the fans who are watching. I had a good time,” before squatting down to lean against the car and catch his breath.
Lead Photo – AutoWeek.com
Bowman and Busch – NASCAR