Michigan Results: 15th, 20th, and 31st
Matt Kenseth led Joe Gibbs Racing with a 15th-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Meanwhile Denny Hamlin raced to a 20th-place finish while two late race spins left Kyle Busch with a disappointing 31st.
Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 12th position and was able to work through a few early cautions to move his way into the top ten and was running sixth while battling loose conditions especially into turn 3 and upon exit of turn 4. The handling was difficult to pinpoint because the car would also become too tight when attempting to make a pass in traffic. Kenseth would come down pit road under the green flag around lap 50 for adjustments and great work by the Dollar General crew gained him another spot allowing him to run fourth once the field had cycled through stops. He would race his way into third when another caution came out for a wreck on lap 72. Kenseth was running seventh when the race reached the halfway point on lap 100. He was running ninth when another caution came out on lap 136 when the 88 wrecked. He would line up sixth on lap 139 and used an awesome restart to move into third. While battling on another restart on lap 153, he was forced to go four wide and the backend of his Dollar General Camry would get loose causing him to lift off the throttle lose position back to 10th. Another caution on lap 158 would allow Kenseth to come down pit road with many of the other leaders. Several teams made the call for fuel only and the No. 20 would return to the track in 16th for the restart. The handling on his Camry would become extremely loose making it difficult for him to gain additional track position. He would pit a final time and lined up with four fresh tires in the 21st position with 23 to go. He would manage to drive his way back to finish in the top 15.
Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in eighth and was able to gain a spot following an early race caution on lap three for the 15 car which spun. He would find the handle of the car too tight however over the course of the next couple of runs which caused him to fall back to 17th when another caution came out on lap 14. Crew chief Darian Grubb would make the call to bring Hamlin down under the caution for adjustments. He would restart back in 28th. Now on a different pit cycle than many others, Hamlin would assume the lead on lap 48. Once the field cycled back through however Hamlin was back in 25th. The FedEx Camry was now turning better however and Hamlin was able to race his way up to 21st when a caution came out on lap 72. The team would make the decision to remain out under caution allowing him to restart from the top spot once again, but he struggled on the older tires once the race resumed and fell back to ninth before pitting just before halfway. Hamlin would run 18th at lap 100. He would continue to battle the handling on his FedEx Camry and unfortunately was caught twice on pit road under caution and then forced to take the wave around limiting his ability to gain all important track position. He would run 21st as the race past the lap 150 mark. Hamlin would run for a spot inside the top twenty for the remainder of the race as various pit strategies played out. He would finish in the 20th position.
Kyle Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries in 10th and was able to race his way up into the sixth position before pitting under the green flag for the first time just prior to lap 50. He would run in the ninth position when a caution came out for a wreck on lap 72. Busch would continue to battle for a spot in the top ten and was running 10th when the race reached halfway. He was running seventh when another caution came out on lap 136 for a wreck involving the 88 car and following a pit stop he would line up 10th for a restart on lap 139. The team would make the call to come down pit road for tires and fuel again following a lap 150 caution dropping him back to 23rd for the ensuing restart. A few laps later he would spin and catch the wall causing some damage to his Interstate Batteries Camry and requiring repairs on pit road. The team would keep him on the lead lap while making the repairs, but unfortunately the Interstate Batteries Toyota would slip loose again on lap 174. The team would once again make repairs but all Busch could do was limp home to the finish with a disappointing 31st.
Joey Logano won the race, followed by Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five. There were nine cautions for a total of 34 laps and 20 lead changes among 13 different drivers.