Monday, August 29, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Kyle Larson Takes First Career Sprint Cup Win at Michigan

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Aug. 29, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXLVIII

What to Watch: Monday

- Today, teams are traveling back to North Carolina to swap out for this weekend's throwback weekend in Darlington.  For Cup and XFINITY teams, its a short haul (for the most part) to Darlington for "Throwback Weekend."  Should be fun.

Monday's TV Schedule can be found here.
Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Finally: Kyle Larson Tops Chase Elliott for Michigan Win

On Sunday, Kyle Larson finally broke through for his first career Sprint Cup victory, passing Chase Elliott on the final restart with nine laps to go.  Elliott was second, followed by Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick.  Read more

Restart Issues Again Cost Chase Elliott a Breakthrough Victory in Michigan

For Chase Elliott, those dang restarts continue to be the bane of his existence at Michigan.  Elliott led Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 on the final restart with nine laps to go.  He then spun his tires, losing both the lead and the win.  Read more

Chris Buescher Salvages 35th-Place Run to Stay Chase Eligible After Michigan

Chris Buescher entered Sunday with a chance to further lock himself into the Chase.  However, issues under the hood dropped him to the rear.  Buescher eventually recovered to 35th by the finish, keeping him on the right side of the bubble with two races remaining in NASCAR's regular season.  Read more

Michael McDowell Finally Masters Road America

Michael McDowell led 24 of the 48 laps on Saturday to earn his first career XFINITY Series victory in the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville.  Teammate Brendan Gaughan was second, followed by Alex Tagliani, Daniel Suarez and Ryan Reed.  Read more

Brett Moffitt Goes Three-Wide to Steal Michigan Truck Victory

On Saturday, Brett Moffitt made a daring three-wide move on the final lap and just squeaked out his first career Camping World Truck Series victory in the Careers for Veterans 200.  Timothy Peters was second, followed by Daniel Hemric, William Byron and Cameron Hayley.  Read more

Cole Custer Out of the Chase Grid, but Uninjured After Late Michigan Crash

Cole Custer needed to put up a good run Saturday in order to improve his Chase chances.  Unfortunately, his day ended in a big wreck in turn 2 while fighting for third.  Custer was OK, but rather dejected afterwards.  Read more

Christopher Bell, Spencer Gallagher Unhurt in Vicious Michigan Crash

Cole Custer was not the only driver to have a big shunt on Saturday.  Christopher Bell took a hit to the drivers' side from Spencer Gallagher on lap 73 in turn 3.  Both drivers walked away from the scary incident.  Read more

Graham Rahal Tops James Hinchcliffe by .0080 Seconds in Texas Photo Finish

Saturday night, Graham Rahal was able to get past James Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan on the last lap, just barely managing to snag his first victory of the year.  Hinchcliffe was eight-thousandths of a second back in second, followed by Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, and Helio Castroneves.  Read more

Have news for The Frontstretch?  Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at with a promising lead or tip.

Chasing the Chase: Harvick Holds Serve in Michigan
by Phil Allaway

Sunday did not see all that much change in the standings.  Points leader Kevin Harvick finished fifth, while Brad Keselowski used pit strategy to take an inferior car to a third-place finish.  As a result, the points lead has closed up by two.  Harvick leads by 25 with two regular season races remaining.  Carl Edwards finished seventh and moved up one place to third in points.  Edwards displaced Kurt Busch, who finished 12th, as both drivers look ahead to September.

Joey Logano started from the pole and led 24 laps, but handling issues dropped him to a tenth-place finish.  That was enough to hold onto fifth in points and put him within five points of fourth.  Kyle Busch maintained the sixth spot, but lost more ground as a result of an early spin he never recovered from.  That means Denny Hamlin is now only five points behind his teammate in seventh, closing the gap by 10 after finishing ninth.  Martin Truex, Jr. is eighth, but he's nearly 40 points out of seventh after the car fell off the jack during a pit stop.  That instance hurt the car's aerodynamics, effectively ruining Truex's day.

Jimmie Johnson had a quiet, but strong day on Sunday, leading 37 laps and finishing sixth.  That was enough to maintain ninth in points and put him within striking distance of Truex.  Matt Kenseth started and finished in 13th, although he did run better than that during the race.  The mediocre run kept him tenth in points, but cost him some ground.  

Chase Elliott's second-place finish moved him up one place to 11th.  He's just five points from re-entering the top 10.  Elliott overtook Austin Dillon in the standings, who had a somewhat average run to finish 16th. Jamie McMurray had a solid eighth-place finish on Sunday to maintain 13th.  He is now the last driver in the Chase on points.  Ryan Newman is now 15 points outside of the Chase in 14th.  Kyle Larson's breakthrough victory on Sunday not only put him in the Chase, but also moved him up one place to 15th in the standings.  Kasey Kahne is 16th.

Further back, Tony Stewart clinched his spot in the Chase by finishing 21st on Sunday.  He is now 93 points ahead of 31st-place David Ragan.  Chris Buescher maintained 30th in points Sunday, but struggled with issues under the hood on the way to a 35th-place finish. He's only seven points ahead of Ragan with two races remaining.

Point Standings (1-16): 1) Kevin Harvick 799, 2) Brad Keselowski -25, 3) Carl Edwards -75, 4) Kurt Busch -78, 5) Joey Logano -83, 6) Kyle Busch -103, 7) Denny Hamlin -108, 8) Martin Truex, Jr. -147, 9) Jimmie Johnson -151, 10) Matt Kenseth -166, 11) Chase Elliott -171, 12) Austin Dillon -177, 13) Jamie McMurray -183, 14) Ryan Newman -198, 15) Kyle Larson -217, 16) Kasey Kahne -235.

Outside the top 16, but Chase-eligible: 26) Tony Stewart -379, 30) Chris Buescher -465.

Race Winners: Denny Hamlin (Daytona-1, Watkins Glen), Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta, Auto Club), Brad Keselowski (Las Vegas, Talladega, Daytona-2, Kentucky), Kevin Harvick (Phoenix, Bristol-2), Kyle Busch (Martinsville, Texas, Kansas, Indianapolis), Carl Edwards (Bristol-1, Richmond), Matt Kenseth (Dover, Loudon), Martin Truex, Jr. (Charlotte), Kurt Busch (Pocono-1), Joey Logano (Michigan-1), Tony Stewart (Sonoma), Chris Buescher (Pocono-2), Kyle Larson (Michigan-2)
Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at

Letter of the Race: Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 was brought to you by the letter "J," for "Jubliation."  For Kyle Larson, he's been close to Victory Lane multiple times during his time in the No. 42, but Sunday was a true breakthrough.  Larson's victory celebration, which involved donuts without the steering wheel attached and donuts in Victory Lane, was one-of-a-kind as well.  - Phil Allaway


Quotes to Remember: Pure Michigan 400
compiled by Phil Allaway

"I was teared up that whole last few laps because I could just feel it. It was finally going to be it. This one is for the Clauson family. We really miss Bryan. We love you guys. We're going to miss him. We parked it for him, so that's really cool... we had a lot of work to do for that first third of the race and got it done. Thanks to Target. Thanks to everyone on this team. Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and the pit crew and everybody. We messed up that last stop but we made it back." - Kyle Larson, race winner

"[I] just [needed] a better restart again.  That was what it was all about, for sure.  Once that guy (Larson) got out front it was really hard to pass.  My guys did such a good job today of making the most of pit road. That was the only place you could make a large sum of ground in a short period of time.  They did exactly what I asked them to do.  I said, 'You guys are going to have to bail me out here; I messed up.' They did. They got us the lead just like I asked and I gave it away again.  It's one of those things where you do or you don't and I didn't.  You just got to recognize your mistakes, look at the positives I guess and move on down the road." - Chase Elliott, finished second

"You could see these restarts here at Michigan just get really crazy towards the end.  I was watching on TV, they get really crazy at the end.  The 42 had a good run.  The 24 was really good.  We were a third‑place car most of the day.  On long runs, we were maybe the best car.  For most of the day we were a third‑place car.  Finished where we deserved.  At the end, I gave Kyle a really good push.  Looked like Chase spun his tires a little bit.  Next thing you know, we were off to the races.  I got up to second.  I wasn't as fast as Chase, wasn't able to get by him.  Kyle was able to drive away, which was kind of the tale of the tape there on the short run. All in all, a really strong day for the Miller Lite team.  I think we would have been a little bit better if we could have got the sun to stay out.  The clouds came out in the end.  We were at our best when the sun was out.  All in all, a lot to be proud of.  A heck of an effort.  Seems like every time we come here, we want to win so bad, we run third or fourth every time, which is really good in the Sprint Cup Series, but it's certainly not the win we're looking for. Good and bad, I guess." - Brad Keselowski, finished third

"We were up towards the front most of the day and some runs were better than others. It is kind of a decent day for us. It is nothing to complain about. I thought we were in a decent spot there that last restart and it didn't work out great. Congrats to Larson. That is cool to see a rookie winning. These are the days we need. These are the days this team deserves. We always want to win in Ford's backyard but we will go on to Darlington and try to get it done there." - Ryan Blaney, finished fourth

"Yeah, just a very good day for all of Hendrick Motorsports.  Unfortunately, one of our cars didn't win today.  We had an issue with some fueling on pit road that dropped us back.  Then, I thought I had a right-rear tire going down.  To rally back and end up sixth is good.  We are working hard and it's nice to see the speed showing.  There has been a lot of hard work for months and months and months going into this.  We didn't see the consistency in speed that we wanted, but this weekend we've had it from day one until now.  It's going in the right direction." - Jimmie Johnson, finished sixth

"We just struggled with speed – really a lot of little things. The car was tight then it was loose, but really just lacked the speed that the leaders had for the most part. Struggled on restarts a little bit too on the bottom lane. Overall, we had about a fifth-place car and we ended up in the top 10 so not too bad." - Denny Hamlin, finished ninth

"We kind of ended on a down note there. I don't know. We lost our track position early in the race which hurt us and then we got our car balance fixed but it is so hard to pass. To get back up there was challenging. We came back down pit road there at the end to take four and somehow I guess the No. 4 car hooked our air gun and sent the rear air gun flying and we lost time in the pits. We were the last car on the lead lap on that last run and got back to 10th so I am proud of the effort this weekend. The pole was nice; we just weren't as competitive as we were in the spring race. Our car drove the same; everyone just got better." - Joey Logano, finished tenth

"That is the best we have been here for sure.  We made a lot of gains and our long run car was really good.  Just never could get going on restarts.  I was always just… I couldn't figure out where I needed to run.  That last caution hurt us a lot.  Just didn't get a good restart.  I didn't get to the outside quick enough and then we were just too loose there.  I still should have gotten to the top earlier.  I was trying to see what was going to happen and I didn't get to the outside quick enough.  Just wish I would have got more there.  I thought we deserved better than a 15th, but we haven't been close to being 15th here in three years.  It's definitely a lot of gains there.  Overall, happy, but just in the short-term disappointed with the finish." - AJ Allmendinger, finished 15th

"The finishing order makes it look that way, but we actually had a pretty fast car. We ran some really fast laps, but we just got in a bad spot there on the restart and got sucked around and wore off part of our splitter, but even after that we were one of the probably five or six quickest cars on the racetrack and just whenever we got in the lucky dog spot we ran there for I can't tell you how many laps and just didn't get a caution. The leaders started lapping cars again and we just couldn't catch that caution to get back on the lead lap and really show what we had." - Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch, finished 19th

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at



Thinkin' Out Loud – Kyle Larson Comes Away with First Sprint Cup Win at Michigan

by Bryan Gable

by Beth Lunkenheimer

Q: In 1992, Davey Allison had a chance to win the Winston Million at Darlington.  He was running in the top 5 when the yellow flew for rain.  Crew chief Larry McReynolds sent a crewmember to look at NASCAR's radar.  What did that crewmember reportedly say when asked what it looked like?

Check back Tuesday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Friday's Answer:

Q:  CART races at Michigan in the mid-1980s were wreckfests.  The 1984 Michigan 500 is probably best known for a crash just after halfway that ended the season for Chip Ganassi.  Mario Andretti won over Tom Sneva, but the finish was marred by another huge crash.  What happened?

A: On the final lap, Pancho Carter had a run on Rick Mears for third when his No. 77 lost control in the middle of the backstretch.  Carter spun and hit the Armco that acted as the outside wall on the backstretch at the time.  The bodywork sheared apart on contact.  Carter then slid onto the grass and barrel rolled.  The crash (and finish) can be seen here.

Carter was taken off on a stretcher, but suffered only minor injuries.  He was back in the car four weeks later at Pocono.  At Michigan, Carter was credited with a sixth-place finish despite the crash.


In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have breaking news from Monday and S.D. Grady returns with Sitting In The Stands: A Fan's View.

Danny Peters returns with Five Points to Ponder following Sunday's action in Michigan.
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