Today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 from Michigan International Speedway would unfortunately not provide a day to remember for Joe Gibbs Racing.
An engine issue would relegate Kyle Busch to a 32nd-place finish, while separate accidents would leave Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano to finish 34th and 35th respectively.
Busch started his No. 18 Snickers Toyota in 34th, but wasted no time in moving up through the field as he jumped up into 21st in just two laps and was in the top 15 by lap seven. Busch had climbed all the way up into the top ten following a couple early competition cautions to allow teams to check tire wear. A four-tire stop on the second of those two cautions would have him restart back toward the middle of the field, but Busch would make his way forward once again. Unfortunately for the third straight week an engine issue would send his Snickers Camry to the garage early. The team would manage to make repairs and get Busch back on the track, but he would be 41 laps off the pace and relegated to a 32nd-place finish.
Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota in 11th-place for today’s race and battled through some tight handling conditions on the track through the early going. He would lose some vital track position when a caution would come out just after he had made a green flag pit stop. That would allow the leaders to pit under caution and Hamlin would have to use the wave around to get back on the lead lap, but valuable track position would be lost. Hamlin would run in 23rd when the race reached the halfway mark. He was running 16th on a restart on lap 134 when he would get caught four-wide on a turn causing his car to get loose and spin through the grass. The damage would lead to a fire on the FedEx Camry as he drove it down pit road, but fortunately Hamlin would escape safely. His day would be over however and he would be scored in 34th.
Logano entered today’s race on a roll, having won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race last week in Pocono and again in yesterday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Michigan. Logano started his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in ninth today and was good through the early going as he drove his way into the top five and ran as high as second. Logano would settle into the seventh position on the track as the race reached the halfway mark. He would be in 10th on a restart on lap 127 when his Home Depot Camry would get turned into the wall causing major damage to the car. His day would be over and he would have to settle for a disappointing 35th-place finish.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr would capture with win, while Tony Stewart was second, Matt Kenseth third, Greg Biffle fourth and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 39 laps with 23 lead changes among 14 different drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head west to Sonoma, CA for the season’s first road course test next week. Coverage of the race from the will be broadcast live by TNT starting at 3 PM ET (pre-race show starts at 2 PM ET). You can also keep track of all the action by following @joegibbsracing on twitter.