Brooklyn – Kyle Larson will try to earn the clean sweep at Michigan International Speedway this season when he competes in the Pure Michigan 400 Sunday afternoon at the two-mile superspeedway known as NASCAR’s fastest track.
Larson is the defending race winner, having collected his first career win at MIS last August, then won the Firekeepers 400 this past June. He will start Sunday’s race in the ninth position, qualifying Friday afternoon with a lap of 201.765 in his No. 42 Chevrolet.
Larson has two victories this season and sits third behind Martin Truex Jr. in the points standings.
“Michigan is a great track for us,” Larson said. “We have won the last two times here. We have had some good runs before that as well. We have been off a little bit the last couple of weeks, but excited to be back here at Michigan where we do have success and can hopefully run well and get that momentum back.”
Larson, 25, also won at the two-mile superspeedway at Fontana, California. He has enjoyed success at MIS, finishing third in last year’s FireKeepers 400 before winning the August race.
Larson had consecutive runner-up spots at Kentucky and New Hampshire before struggling the last three races, finishing 28th in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, 33rd at Pocono and 23rd last weekend at Watkins Glen.
“Yeah, you know we have had probably more bad luck than bad runs,” Larson said. “I think Indy we were pretty good at, fourth- or fifth-best car and then the same at Pocono, but we broke a driveshaft at Pocono and got in a wreck at Indy. Watkins Glen we were definitely not very good I didn’t think.
“It’s hard to have a perfect season and be fast every week, but our team is excited about the race car we’ve got here this weekend. They have found a lot of stuff in the wind tunnel earlier this week, so happy about that. The car felt good, like I said, in practice so hopefully we can make a solid weekend, have no mistakes and go for a third win.”
Larson couldn’t possibly be having a busier week. He won the A-Main feature race in the winged, 410-cubic-inch engine sprint car race in Knoxville Wednesday to put him in Saturday’s main event at that same track before returning to MIS.
“Chip (Ganassi) is allowing me to go to Knoxville tomorrow, which is great,” Larson said. “So, I will get to go and compete in the A-main there and then come back and try and go for three in a row here. Cool weekend for me and really excited for it.”
Logano needs win to make playoffs
Joey Logano knows he needs to reach Victory Lane in one of the next four races if he has any hope of competing in the playoffs for the Cup series championship.
Logano feels confident he can get the job done and climb into the top 16 to qualify for the playoffs. Drivers winning at least one race will automatically qualify for the playoffs. He sits 13th in the points, but is really on the outside looking in since drivers like Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne are behind him in points, but have all won races.
Logano won at MIS in 2013, then again in last year’s FireKeepers 400, going on to finish second to Jimmie Johnson for the series championship.
After the Pure Michigan 400 at MIS Sunday, the series will have races at Bristol, Darlington and Richmond.
“Those are really good race tracks for us,” Logano said. “Michigan, we’ve proven that we can run well here. Bristol is probably one of our best race tracks as well, especially in the fall race. Richmond, we’ve shown we can win there a couple of times. I feel good about that. Darlington is probably the one that stands out to me that might be a little bit more challenging, but it’s because we haven’t won there is the only reason.
“I’m mainly focused on this weekend, obviously. It’s always a lot of fun (at MIS), particularly on restarts there’s a lot of take advantage of, there’s a lot of opportunity that arrives in those moments. It looks like our teammate (Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski) has some good speed, so we’re hoping to try to turn some things around here and get our third win here at Michigan.
“I think you do get a little bit desperate. You’ve got to win. There is no second option, so the intensity is very, very high. You have to be on point all the time. You’ve got to win. There is no second option, so the intensity is very, very high.”
Keselowski won the pole with Logano, his Penske teammate, starting second.
9:30 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, qualifying
1 p.m. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series LTi Printing 200, FS1
3 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400, NBCSN