Home / Beth Lunkenheimer / Pace Laps: Kyle Larson Pulls Off Michigan Win and Lack of Funding Hurting Truck Series
(Photo: Barry Cantrell / NKP)

Pace Laps: Kyle Larson Pulls Off Michigan Win and Lack of Funding Hurting Truck Series

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Kyle Larson Does it Again at Michigan- Kyle Larson proved on Friday he had the fastest car at Michigan International Raceway, putting his No. 42 team on the pole for the 400-mile event. This time, the California kid had to hold off a pack of hounds in the waning laps.

Larson led much of the opening stage before Martin Truex Jr. got by, picking up the stage victory. The second stage saw much of the same. The No. 42 machine was out front until making a pit stop with roughly 15 laps to go. But when he came out of the pits, he had to hold off the No. 78 car, in which Truex got by, recording his season-high 10th stage triumph of 2017.

A caution with 50 laps remaining put teams on the edge of their fuel window. Four teams elected to go with two tires, putting Kyle Busch out front not knowing if the No. 18 car could go the distance on fuel.

Busch held the lead until a restart with 15 laps to go when Larson got by. Over the final two restarts of the event, the No. 18 team fell to seventh, letting another victory slip away. It’s the fifth time this season Busch was passed for the final lead change of the race.

Heading to the twist and turns of Sonoma Raceway next weekend, Busch is a two-time winner, most recently coming in 2015. It’s not a matter of if the No. 18 team is going to pick up a victory, the question is when. – Dustin Albino 

XFINITY Series: What a Finish – For the second consecutive week, the XFINITY Series race had a thrilling finish with a last-lap pass. This time, Denny Hamlin was ousting rookie sensation William Byron.

Hamlin had the race in hand until NASCAR threw a debris caution with 14 laps to go. On the resuming restart, Byron pushed hometown hero Brad Keselowski past Hamlin, but made a quick dive to the inside of the No. 22 car off Turn 2, taking the lead for the first time since leading 17 laps en route to a stage victory at Texas Motor Speedway in early April.

Denny Hamlin beats William Byron to the finish line at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo: Brett Moist / NKP)

XFINITY Breakdown: Denny Hamlin Wins Photo Finish Thriller Over William Byron

Byron looked as though he was on track to win his first-career XFINITY Series race until Matt Tifft went for a slide through the grass with five laps remaining, bringing out the caution. On the restart, the No. 9 Chevrolet held off Hamlin until the final corner of the last lap, when the No. 20 car edged to the victory by .012 seconds, the closest finish in Michigan history for NASCAR’s second-tier series.

The victory is Hamlin’s first in his last four XFINITY Series races, dating back to last season at Darlington Raceway, when he finished runner-up. The more important story is this could be the breakout race Byron needs as the series heads to its first stand-alone event of the season at Iowa Speedway. – Dustin Albino 

Camping World Truck Series: Money Rears Its Ugly Head – The field for Saturday night’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 featured 30 starters, which, on the surface, appears to be a good thing since it was a full field. But if you were to look a little deeper into the finishing results, you’d see that seven of those trucks didn’t even make it to the end of the first stage, which was only 35 laps.

It’s a sad story about the state the series is in right now, where purses don’t even come close to covering costs, and NASCAR doesn’t seem terribly interested in fixing the issue.

In fact, John Hunter Nemechek, who won at Gateway Saturday night, has himself locked into the playoffs, but there are questions as to whether the team can afford to be on track by the time the championship battle comes around.

Tracking the Trucks: John Hunter Nemechek Scores First 2017 Win at Gateway

“We’ve had some great partners come on board, but we only have half our season sold,” NEMCO Motorsports owner Joe Nemechek said. “We didn’t know if we were going to go next week or when. It’s just tough because John Hunter has so much talent. He’s going to be a Cup champion one of these days. Right now, we’re just trying to get to the next race.”

It’s a huge problem that NASCAR needs to address. Costs outweigh the benefits of racing, and teams are barely scraping by unless they have partnerships with others elsewhere in the sport. And even then, I’ve heard rumblings that there are other trucks in danger of dropping out of the battle, which is tough since Red Horse Racing, an established operation, shut its doors three weeks back. In a series where the truck counts continue to dwindle, something has to give soon before the series drops away altogether. – Beth Lunkenheimer

Sports Cars: Panoz Announces Electric Sports Car Concept – On Thursday in Le Mans, Dr. Don Panoz’s Green4U Technologies announced a new all-electric race car concept that is ultimately designed to race at an unspecified point in the future at Le Mans.  The Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV is currently being developed at Panoz Technologies in Braselton, Ga. near Road Atlanta.

The concept is one of, if not the first electric race car concept that would allow for battery swapping technology.  This would be a crucial development in an electric car being able to race for more than 50-100 miles at a time.

When ultimately produced, Panoz is hoping that the Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV will produce 400-450 kilowatts (536-603 horsepower) and be capable of a top speed of 180 mph.  The desired battery range for the car is estimated at 90-110 miles.  At Le Mans, that is roughly 10-13 laps, in line with current LMP2 prototypes.

Likely the most radical aspect of the presented concept was an offset cockpit that would see the driver on the far left side of the chassis, next to the batteries.  This would be the case not just for the racecar, but also for a potential street version.

Green4U Technologies ultimately wants to race the Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV at some point.  On paper, it sounds like it could be a future Garage 56 entry at Le Mans.  However, it is unclear as to when that might happen. – Phil Allaway

NHRA: Long Time ComingClay Millican was a six-time champion in IHRA’s Top Fuel division, winning 51 national events in his time there. In NHRA, however, he was still waiting on his first win to come. That win finally came at this weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals from Bristol, the Tennessee native’s home track in his 254th NHRA Top Fuel start. He’d finished runner-up eight previous times.
The win was made even more special as it came on Father’s Day. Millican lost his son, Dalton, in 2015 in a motorcycle accident.
“I wondered if I would ever win one of these. I thought maybe it’s not meant to be,” Millican said. “My Momma told me if the time was right, it would happen. There is no such thing as a coincidence. There were so many signs/things today I know was Dalton. Father’s Day is a tough day for anyone who lost a child. Dalton was riding with me today. He got me four win lights.”
Millican faced off against Leah Pritchett, running 3.825 seconds at 316.38 mph to beat Pritchett’s 3.881 seconds at 307.09 mph. He also beat Kyle Wurtzel, Brittany Force, and Steve Torrence to get to the final round and that first win.
Ron Capps continues his domination in Funny Car, scoring his fifth win on the season over teammate Jack Beckman. Capps ran a lap of 4.054 seconds at 317.05 mph to beat Beckman’s faster but losing 4.040 seconds at 319.29 mph on a holeshot. He also beat Alexis DeJoria, Robert Hight, and Matt Hagan en route to the finals.
In Pro Stock, it was Alex Laughlin with a run of 6.718 seconds at 205.04 mph beating point leader Bo Butner’s 6.729 seconds at 205.79 mph. Even so, Butner never really stood a chance because Laughlin left with perfect .000 reaction time on the light.
“We didn’t really have anything handed to us; we had some good matchups all day,” Laughlin said. “I definitely feel like I had a point to prove. We have a competitive car on the starting line. I came into this weekend with the confidence to win.”
Laughlin beat Allen Johnson, Jeg Coughlin, and Tanner Gray in earlier rounds. – Toni Montgomery

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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5 comments

  1. Sponsors are finally seeing that the bang isn’t worth the buck. The truck series is on life support, and teams are likely to do what Red Horse had to do. Close their doors. Owners are losing big money, and NASCAR doesn’t care. There are some good drivers in the truck series, but they are pricing themselves out of business. Tom DeLoach spent millions on Red Horse, and what does he have to show for it besides a dwindling bank account? Some guys that worked at Red Horse went in debt head over heels for new vehicles, homes, and different sorts of toys, and now don’t have a job. They should have seen the handwriting on the wall, but they like a lot of others assumed the owner had a money tree growing in his backyard, The same thing will eventually make it’s way to the Cup Series. Why would a sponsor want to shell out mega bucks for a car to run mediocre? If I were a driver, I would save every penny I could, because NASCAR is allowing the gravy train they enjoy now to derail.

  2. NA$CRAP should keep ALL of the Cup drivers out of both Xfinity and Truck races!

  3. The biggest two problems in the Truck Series are Xfinity drivers and the schedule…

    Why would some company want to spend the money to sponsor a season for some driver in the series when they know that Kyle Busch and others are coming in with nearly unlimited money and winning all of the races and getting all of the attention? You have some great drivers in the series, but they can’t get attention due to all of the Xfinity drivers running in all of the races.

    Also, the schedule for the series makes it hard to follow. They may run this week, but not run for another month or so. IMHO they should run nearly weekly like they used to do. Used to be great racing in this series. Wonder if NASCAR is trying to kill off the Truck Series?

  4. Why should anyone want to run in the lower series’? if money is the problem take that aspect away from any cup driver who runs in the lower series. No-one cares to see veterans beat-up on kids and until NASCAR recognizes that which they wont (mike Helton and Brian France love to be on there knees catering to cup drivers not caring about how they hurt the lower series’)

    GET THE CUP DRIVERS OUT OF XFINITY AND TRUCKS!!!! they are destroying what those series are about. they are nothing but a bunch of Bullies and Denny Hamlin especially proved it when hefaked his tir spin and ran into the KID. Everyone knows Denny Hamlin cheats that way. He tried it on Larson and Failed Sunday.

  5. Did anyone else get a case of Waltripian deja vu when the Reverend Joe Gibbs’ 19 TOYOTA spun out on his own and gave the Reverend Joe Gibbs’ 20 TOYOTA another shot at the win? The Reverend must have said quite a prayer.