Larson restarted fourth behind Truex and Truex’s teammate Erik Jones. As Truex and Jones accelerated towards the green flag, Larson got a great jump and dove between them when Jones was forced to move low to block an oncoming Matt Kenseth.
As Larson entered the corner to the inside of Truex, he charged ahead and led the final two laps for his third-straight win at Michigan. Truex finished second while his teammate Erik Jones was third.
After emerging from his car, Larson said he had played a few restart scenarios through in his head before the two-lap shootout, but admitted that he had couldn’t believe he won the race.
“I was running a few options through my head of what to do if I got a good jump, and that was one of them and it worked out perfect,” Larson said. “I can’t believe that happened. We were struggling all day. We were definitely not as good as the last two times we won here, but we preserved and had a great restart at the end.
While it’s Larson’s third-straight win at Michigan, it’s his second-straight thanks to late-race restart excellence. In June, he side-drafted Kyle Busch to perfection to pull ahead and win. Here’s how he got that done.
This is how Larson won at Michigan in June. Another pretty good restart. pic.twitter.com/GarWuNe7Zx
— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) August 13, 2017
Larson’s Michigan win ends a summer swoon that’s been absolutely brutal. After a second-place finish at Kentucky on July 8, Larson was a point ahead of Truex for the Cup Series points lead.
Three days after that race, Larson was penalized 35 points because his car failed post-race inspection. He finished second at New Hampshire, but in the three races preceding Sunday’s at Michigan he finished outside the top 20.
He entered Sunday’s race in third place in the points standings, 122 points behind Truex. While the win doesn’t do much to close the points gap to Truex with three races to go until the playoffs, it does a lot for Larson’s playoff chances.
With five points for the win, Larson is now set to enter the playoffs with 18 guaranteed points. While that total is far behind the 35 guaranteed points Truex has, Larson now has the second-most guaranteed points of all drivers. If he can stay in that No. 2 position, he’ll be well-positioned to race for the title at Homestead.
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