Five things to take away from Michigan

Was Kyle Larson’s post-race celebration at Michigan International Speedway over the top on Sunday?

Five things to take away from Michigan
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Chip Ganassi
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, spins
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, pit action
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, pit action
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Chevrolet Logo
Cameron Hayley, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Brett Moffitt, Red Horse Racing Toyota, Timothy Peters, Red Horse Racing Toyota, William Byron, Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Race winner Brett Moffitt, Red Horse Racing Toyota

NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell didn’t think so.

O’Donnell, who called into SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday, felt Larson’s exuberance was attributable to the understandable elation of a first-time winner — nothing more.

Although NASCAR will continue to monitor excessive spins and burnouts, O’Donnell says Larson’s trip to Victory Lane is not under review.

“In this case, it was the guy’s first win,” O’Donnell said. “It’s been three years. He was ecstatic. I think we were part of the fan group in terms of looking down and saying that was awesome to see and an awesome moment.

“So, I chalk this one up as more of that. The car passed post-race inspection. It will certainly go to the R&D Center, but I look at this one as a first-race win and someone really out there celebrating as they should.’’

Here are five other take-aways from this weekend’s events:

1) Larson isn’t going anywhere

Larson is one of the hottest young drivers in the Cup garage — and his stock certainly rose after Sunday’s win. But both he and team owner Chip Ganassi are thrilled with their current partnership. Larson and Ganassi assured the media during post-race interviews the driver’s seat in the No. 42 Target Chevy is secure.

“I've developed a great relationship with Kyle,” Ganassi said. “When he came to our team, people say, ‘Well, he'll hang around for a couple years, then he'll go to a team where he can win. That wasn't the case at all. “His contract came up one time. I said, ‘What do you think about these other teams that are talking to you?’ I'll never forget his answer. He said, ‘They all had a shot at me the first time around and they passed.’”

2) The low-downforce package

After teams raced the proposed 2017 aero configuration for a second time at Michigan (and Kentucky Speedway in-between) what did NASCAR learn? O’Donnell said the sanctioning body looks at several aspects of the racing, including whether one team dominated or whether there was a variety of drivers able to move to the front of the pack and lead laps. O’Donnell observed all three manufacturers leading laps at the two-mile track but added the 2017 rules are still early in the evaluation process. NASCAR will meet with stakeholders later this week, and there’s a drivers council meeting scheduled at Darlington Raceway this weekend. Still, one number that does stand out is the number of laps led by Hendrick-powered cars. Of the 200 laps raced, cars with Hendrick engines held the point for 142 circuits.

3) To pit or not to pit

The four teams that elected to stay on the track and not pit during the final caution on Lap 188 finished in the top four when the checkers flew. Kevin Harvick, who was fourth when the yellow came out, took two tires and finished fifth, followed by sixth-place Jimmie Johnson, who pitted for four tires. Carl Edwards, who was 14th at the time of the caution, stayed out, restarted fifth and finished seventh. So in the battle of clean air versus new tires, clean air was the clear winner.

4) Consider this…

The last two drivers to win — Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson — have Hendrick engines under the hood. Of the eight Chevrolet drivers currently inside the Chase cutoff, seven have Hendrick power, but only two — Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott — drive for Rick Hendrick. Larson and his teammate Jamie McMurray (the last driver who would transfer on points) along with the three Stewart-Haas Racing-winning drivers (Harvick, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart) have the benefit of Hendrick horsepower but build their own race cars. Although Elliott and Johnson finished in the top six on Sunday, the Hendrick Motorsports losing streak has now been extended to 19 races.

5) No need to scratch that itch

With the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series both featuring Chase scenarios this season, it’s not surprising that team orders — or suggestions — ran rampant over the radio on Saturday particularly in the closing laps at Michigan. ThorSport reminded its drivers Cameron Hayley (ninth in the standings and out of the Chase Zone) needs to win. Over on the BKRacing channel, the team was told if Daniel Hemric (second in points) can’t win, to help William Byron and thereby keep two Chase spots open on points. On the 11 radio, Brett Moffitt was told the best thing for the company is to let the 17 (Timothy Peters) win this race.

Bless Moffitt for going for it. “I’m here to win,” Moffitt said after winning his first on one of NASCAR’s top tours. Although Red Horse Racing finished one-two, it was a tough pill for Peters to swallow. Sure, he has a 47-point cushion on Haley — the first driver in points behind him without a win. But a win would have made the last two races before the cut-off less stressful for the 12-year truck veteran, particularly since Moffitt is not competing in the No. 11 full-time.

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