Larson wins Michigan, returns home to Sonoma Raceway this weekend
Last Sunday, Kyle Larson of Elk Grove won his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season at Michigan International Speedway. With another win under his belt and the series point lead in his possession, the 24-year old local driver returns the track closest to home this weekend as the stars of NASCAR take to the road course at Sonoma Raceway.
Last Sunday, with a strong push from fellow driver Ryan Blaney in the bottom lane during a restart on Lap 186 of 200, Larson cleared Kyle Busch for the lead through the first two corners and stayed out front the rest of the way to win for the third time in his career.
For everyone else, the bottom lane meant guaranteed lost positions, making Larson’s decisive restart all the more impressive almost as impressive as his post-race burnout, as Larson spun his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, laying rubber across Victory Lane.
"Yeah, Ryan Blaney gave me a heck of a push," Larson said of the decisive restart that helped earn his third career victory. "I’ve really got to thank him a ton. I knew the Penske cars took off good, so I was happy to see him behind me. For us to withstand a few restarts there with some tough competitors there was pretty important. I can’t thank these guys enough."
Larson said that, though restarts are quite different at Michigan than they are at Dover, he studied video of the Dover race and learned from the experience that cost him a win to Jimmy Johnson the week before.
"I definitely watched the replay," Larson said. "We looked at Jimmie's driver data versus mine from the final restart at Dover, learned a little bit from that stuff.
"Honestly, I knew what I did wrong as soon as we took the green at Dover. But, yeah, here at Michigan, it's different. You have a long straightaway. The front stretch at Dover is pretty bumpy, so it's hard to get grip. It's not hard to get grip here at Michigan. It's kind of just a drag race."
Both Sunday’s victory and Larson’s win at Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Calif.) in March came from the pole, and all three of his triumphs have come on two-mile tracks. Now, he heads to the twists and curves of Sonoma Raceway.
Built in 1968, the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course was carved into the rolling hills at the gateway to the Sonoma Wine Country. Since then, race fans have been treated to some of the greatest racing that has been found nationwide.
As NASCAR makes its way into our region and to the track closest to Larson’s home, it marks the one time a year fans in this area get to witness the best drivers in the nation take to the road course. While many will be rooting for local boy Larson, the event also will be the final local appearance by Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he enters his final wine country classic.
The NASCAR hauler parade will take place in Sacramento today, June 22. The parade will begin promptly at noon, as the haulers depart their staging area and cross the Tower Bridge, heading for the State Capitol. The route is as follows:
· Cross Tower Bridge towards Capitol Mall.
· Right turn on 3rd Street.
· Left turn on N Street.
· Left turn on 16th Street.
· Left turn on L Street.
· Haulers will then be directed to the freeway and head South on Hwy. 80 to Sonoma Raceway, where they will be parked in the garage for the race weekend. The haulers will arrive at the raceway at approximately 2 p.m.
Race fans can catch the haulers all along the parade route, but are encouraged to head to the corner of 11th and L streets for the best view. For information on tickets for this weekend in Sonoma, visit www.sonomaraceway.com.