An adventurous day that saw the loss of his bumper, a clash with Tony Stewart and a penalty, netted Kyle Larson an eighth-place finish in Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway.
The eventful outing began early when Larson lost control and spun off of Turn 2 just eight laps into the Quicken Loans 400. Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. also were collected.
Extensive repairs saw the removal of Larson's rear bumper, which quickly turned advantageous for the 21-year-old rookie. Without a bumper, the No. 42 Chevrolet added additional rear downforce, which on an aerodynamic sensitive track like Michigan provided Larson a boost as he worked his way through traffic from 35th.
Larson's increased speed -- and perhaps advantage -- was noticed by the competition, with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski commenting during various points of the race. Earnhardt surmised Larson gained 20 pounds of downforce.
"I'm sure it was somewhat of an advantage from what my crew members said," Larson said. "I've never had that happen before. I think, even if we had our rear bumper, we still would have had a good Target Chevy today. I just made one too many mistakes."
Back up near the front, it appeared Larson was in line to become the first rookie to win in NASCAR's top division since Logano in 2009. That was until Larson committed his second gaffe of the afternoon.
During his final pit stop, Larson exceeded the maximum speed limit and had to drop to the rear of the field on the subsequent restart. He would rally, but any chance at his maiden Sprint Cup victory evaporated.
"We fought hard to get in the top five and then I spun on pit road with less than 50 laps to go and had to work hard from there again," Larson said. "So, we got back to eighth -- a good finish, but we probably would have finished a little bit better.
"I just didn't execute driving on pit road."
In between blunders, Larson also drew the ire of Tony Stewart. The two made contact on a restart when Larson blocked Stewart's attempt to pass him on the outside. Stewart could be seen in replays gesturing towards Larson.
"That's Tony being Tony," Larson said. "I was pretty tight on whoever was inside of me on the restart. I was looking in my mirror and saw him juke to the right, so I juked to the right and he hit me.
"I don't know, he was just trying to teach me a lesson I'm guessing."