Separate early race accidents spoiled the day for teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, while Denny Hamlin managed to avoid the trouble and led Joe Gibbs Racing with a seventh-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 from Michigan International Speedway.
Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the 21st position and was able to avoid the early wrecks that plagued his teammates. He remained patient and worked his way into the top 15 and was running 12th as the race went past the halfway mark. He would work his way back into the top ten and was running 10th on lap 135. Hamlin would make a scheduled stop on lap 138 and once the field cycled through he was running 11th with 50 laps to go. Hamlin benefited for well-timed caution when he pitted with just over 30 laps remaining and the yellow flag came out. The FedEx Camry was able to restart seventh and raced as high as fifth following two quick restarts that followed. He would go to finish in seventh.
Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 18th position and was patient through the early going racing just outside the top 20 after being shuffled back on the initial green flag for the start of the race. Unfortunately Kenseth would not have the opportunity to make his way toward the front over the course of the 200-lap race because of an accident on lap 22. The 10 car spun in front of the Dollar General Camry forcing Kenseth to check up and that set off a chain reaction and contact from behind caused rear suspension damage that forced the team to make repairs in the garage. He would return 27 laps down to the leader and went on to finish 38th.
Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota from the 24th position but his day took a turn for the worse early on when he got loose on lap 4 and made hard contact into the outside wall. The damage was significant to the Interstate Batteries Camry and Busch immediately drove it straight to the garage. Kyle worked alongside his 18 teammates to make repairs and he would return to the track to complete the race, but was many laps off the pace. He would go on to finish 39th.
The best news of the day is that both Busch and Hamlin officially earned a spot in the Chase, while Kenseth remains in good position as the points leader among those that have yet to win a race thus far this season.
Jeff Gordon won the race, followed by Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Paul Menard and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 37 laps and 20 lead changes among eight different drivers.