Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Rundown: Ganassi goal now is for McMurray to join Larson in Chase

Alfredo Watts | 01 September, 2016, 14:10

The Michigan win was Larson's seventh win in NASCAR's top three series and came in his 99th Sprint Cup Series start. Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS finished second.

"It's taken me a lot longer than it took me in any of the other stuff to get a win", the 23-year-old Larson explained to the media following his hard fought first win, "Took me a couple months to win my first Sprint vehicle race, four days after my 15th birthday".

As those final laps wound down and it became apparent to Larson that - barring something unforeseen - he would finally win, tears came to his eyes. First and foremost came a tribute to a close friend, Bryan Clauson, who died August 7 from injuries sustained in a Midget auto crash. That's a couple of races in a row in a few short months at this place where I had a really good vehicle and had an opportunity. "Then I started shaking, legs a little numb there for a couple laps".

In June, Elliott was positioned to win, but he got hung up on a late restart, and Joey Logano went on to win. "This was the crowning one by winning in Cup with Larson".

While Darlington is configured like no other on the circuit, we can still apply a lot of what we've seen already in the six races run on 1.5-mile tracks. We love you guys. We parked it for him so that was really cool.

Kyle Larson won, Chase Elliott finished second, and Ryan Blaney placed in fourth.

Why did it take three years for Larson, whose talent has been evident for some time, to finally score his first victory?

"Really, really big", the team owner said of earning the berth. It's just a matter of putting together a weekend.

"You either do or you don't and I didn't".

This weekend marked the first time in NASCAR history that all three national series had first-time winners - Larson and Brett Moffitt (trucks series) at MI and Michael McDowell (Xfinity series) at Road America. "Glad to get it before my hundredth", he said.

"I was tearing up those last few laps because I was feeling that was finally going to be it; we weren't going to have a caution", Larson said from an emotional victory lane. Elliott returned to the lead, again, after another cycle of green-flag stops completed on lap 170.

MI native Brad Keselowski was third, but his No. 2 Ford failed postrace laser inspection. He stayed there the rest of the way.

"My guys did such a good job today of making the most of pit road", Elliott said. I couldn't quite catch my breath there after I got out of the vehicle because I spent two minutes screaming because I was so pumped up. And Alex Bowman, that kid driving the 88, I felt bad for him with that ignition/ECU problem, because he was going to be in the top five all day long. "Kyle was able to drive away, which was kind of the tale of the tape there on the short runs". Larson emphatically dedicated the win to Clauson by uttering the phrase Clauson would post on social media following one of his many triumphs.

Ganassi, whose open-wheel teams have won IndyCar championships and Indy 500s, was nearly as happy as his driver.

"The first win for Kyle and the first win for Chevy", said Jim Campbell, GM's U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports.