4th, 6th and 30th at Michigan
Kyle Busch came back from an early penalty on pit road to lead Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Matt Kenseth also finished in the top ten with a strong sixth-place run, while Denny Hamlin battled an extremely loose racecar all afternoon before settling for a 30th-place finish on the two-mile speedway.
Busch started his No. 18 M&Ms Toyota in the ninth position and was able to battle toward the top five through the early going, but he was ruled to have made a pass on pit road during the first round of stops and penalized by having to start at the back of the lead lap cars back in the 31st position on lap 25. The setback didn’t deter the talented driver however as he raced his way back to the front throughout the remainder of the afternoon. Busch was 22nd by lap 35, and by lap 55 he had driven back inside the top 20 despite battling an extremely loose race car throughout the afternoon. Pit strategy helped Busch continue to gain on the field as a four-tire stop on lap 77 allowed him to only need two tires on his final two stops of the day. That helped Busch run sixth on lap 130. He would hold that position until moving past Brad Keselowski for fifth with just five to go and then gained an additional spot with just three laps remaining to earn a strong fourth-place run despite the early adversity.
Kenseth started his No. 20 Home Depot/Husky Toyota from the eighth position but was fast from the outset as he managed to run second prior to the first round of pit stops. Kenseth was strong throughout much of the race as he battled near the top five despite battling a loose handling race car. The No. 20 Home Depot Husky Camry would restart fourth on the final restart of the day with 27 laps to go and was making a run on the outside lane to jump up into second when the 56 went up the track and forced Kenseth into the wall. The contact would drop him all the way back to 13th, but amazingly Kenseth was able to drive it back up into the top ten and eventually into sixth at the finish.
Hamlin and FedEx decided to honor NASCAR driver Jason Leffler, who was killed earlier this week in accident while racing on a dirt track, by piloting a special paint scheme from 2005 that Leffler drove when the No. 11 team was first formed. The No. 11 FedEx Express started today’s race from the 11th positon, but struggled with handling from the outset. Hamlin’s Camry was just too loose to keep it near the top ten and had fallen back to 20th when a competition caution came out on lap 20. The FedEx team made adjustments with each stop in an effort to make the car tighter, but Hamlin continued to report that the car was just way too loose to gain ground. He would eventually fall a lap off the pace to the leaders and unfortunately cautions did not fall when needed to get him back with the leaders. He would finish a lap down in 30th.
Greg Biffle won the race, followed by Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr. Kyle Busch, and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 38 laps and 22 lead changes among 13 different drivers.