First time winners take the stage in NASCAR this weekend

Andrew Cummings
August 30, 2016

Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Chase Elliott once again narrowly missed out on his first Sprint Cup Series win - and once again, he was devastatingly hard on himself.

But it was Larson who held off Elliott for his first ever win on his 29th start in the Sprint Cup Series, snapping a 99 race winless streak for Chip Ganassi Racing. "Unfortunately, I didn't do my part again".

After the final cycle of stops completed, Elliott had a lead of almost three seconds over Larson. Another problem for Larson has been finding the needed endurance to win 400-mile or 500-mile events on the big tracks and 500-lap races on the short ovals. "This one was for Bryan Clauson". We've been working really hard. "What if you would have moved him?' Now I won, so we don't have to talk about that anymore". We've got to work on that with two [races] to go now. Shortly after he celebrated his victory, Clauson's fiancée Lauren Stewart tweeted her gratitude and congratulations. "And I couldn't be more happy with Kyle right now". I got to leave in the end. So thanks to him. Is it possible that he will become the centerpiece to a Ganassi effort to break into NASCAR's elite now that extra financing is in place from Kauffman in addition to the backing of Felix Sabates?

The outside is a tough place to be when you drive for Chip Ganassi, who fields winning cars in six different series and can be a bit demanding. He came in here and the team rallied around him. "I couldn't be more proud of how he's developed over the last couple of years in Cup". It's been a nice gradual coming through the pack. The vehicle was tight then it was loose, but really just lacked the speed that the leaders had for the most part. "We messed up that last stop but we made it back". "That's Kyle. I think it's important to understand that these guys are not robots. they're all different". Only one person wins in this sport.

The letter also points out that Elliott brings to mind another uber-competitive rookie that we saw a decade ago - Denny Hamlin.

Alex Bowman, filling in for Dale Earnhardt the No. 88 auto, had a problem with the ignition system and finished 30th.

Also struggling was Alex Bowman, driving for the sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr in the 88 auto. Larson closed on Elliott but lost the ground gained in lapped traffic with just under 20 laps to go. He returned to the race five laps down to the leaders. He spun on Lap 27 and never recovered. "It's hard to go back and watch video and see the last green-white checkered where you got passed or didn't get a great restart".

"I usually watch (the past races) before I get here more to look at the line and the race and how that plays out".

Larson secured a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with two races left in the regular season. But that's only if Buescher stays in the top 30, which is in doubt after Sunday. Usually when you have engine trouble you are along for the ride. Fortunately for Buescher, 31st-place David Ragan didn't gain enough to pass him.

Larson's victory put him into the Chase, NASCAR's playoff that starts after two more races.

WHO'S NOT: It was another rough day for Kyle Busch at MI. Also, at no point late in the race did the broadcasters mention that, because of the late crashes, Chris Buescher was moving up in positions, which is important because every point matters for his Chase chances.

The low-downforce rules package that was a hot topic leading to the Pure Michigan 400 didn't produce Sunday the side-by-side racing for which NASCAR hoped.

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