Kurt Busch Wins Rain-Shortened Race at Michigan

On Friday, Kurt Busch crashed in practice which resulted in going to a backup car. Two days later, Busch was standing in an alternate Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway due to a heavy downpour in what was the fourth red flag of the race.

This is Busch’s second win in 2015 after winning at Richmond back in April. Ironically, he won the only other race that was moved to the next day due to rain. This is also Busch’s first multi-win season since 2011 when he drove for Team Penske.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to know what we went through, paced ourselves and found the lead toward the latter part of the race and then the rain came in,” Busch said in the makeshift Victory Lane. “Tony Gibson led these guys through a backup car and the pit crew was there giving their best. It’s even more special winning in Chevrolet’s backyard. That’s what is most important about winning at Michigan.”

On what was an eventual late-race restart crew chief Chris Heroy left his driver Kyle Larson out to lead the field to green, knowing that the car was running on fumes. Larson could hold on for three laps before having to make a pit stop for four tires and most importantly fuel. The sophomore driver finished 17th on the wet afternoon.

Heroy made the gutsy call knowing that there was rain in the area. With the “win and you’re in” formula, Larson needs a win to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The No. 42 was running in the 10th position before the late-race caution and evidently went for it all to try and get the driver his first career victory.  

“I would give up 10th at a chance for a victory any day,” Heroy said to Larson over the team’s radio.

The Quicken Loans 400 was delayed on four separate occasions before NASCAR finally ruled the race official with 62 laps remaining.  The aforementioned Busch led only six laps on the afternoon but his team had the right strategy when the race restarted for the third time on Lap 53 of the scheduled 200-lap race.

Like many races this year, Kevin Harvick had the dominant car. However, like last year at both Dover races the No. 4 team had a broken valve stem in one of their tires. This happened right after a green flag pit stop on Lap 123 and Harvick had little time to regain track position and he finished the race in a disappointing 29th-place.

This is only Harvick’s second finish outside of the top 10 this season. Harvick also eclipsed the 1200 laps led column in only 15 races thus far this season. The last person to lead over 1200 laps in the first 15 races in a season was Jeff Gordon back in 1995.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second on the afternoon after having one of the quicker cars all day long. Michigan has proved to be one of Earnhardt’s better tracks on the NASCAR schedule and he picked up his eighth top five finish at the quickest track in NASCAR.

Pocono winner Martin Truex Jr. finished third at Michigan and extended his series-best top 10 streak to 14 out of the 15 races this season. This is the best streak of top-10’s to start a season since Richard Petty back in 1969. Truex looked to have the second best car to Harvick but could never find the track position to be up front.

Matt Kenseth finished fourth on Sunday after running the majority of the race in the top five. Joey Logano rounded out the top five after running out of fuel on Lap 95 that put him towards the end of the lead lap. In the remaining

Trevor Bayne finished a season-high ninth in Ford’s backyard. Bayne’s previous best finish this season was 18th at Bristol. This was the 24-year-old’s best finish since the spring Talladega race back in 2012 when he finished eighth in the No. 21 for The Wood Brothers.

The race’s biggest incident came on lap 53 when Kyle Busch lost control of his Toyota and hit the outside wall. The Joe Gibbs Racing team could not repair the No. 18 in time to get back out on track. The team will need to be near perfect in order to race his way into the Chase with only 11 races remaining until the Chase cutoff at Richmond in September.

The point situation remains nearly the same as it did prior to Michigan. Ryan Newman holds a 12-point lead on Clint Bowyer for the final spot in the 2015 edition of the Chase. 

Dustin Albino

Dustin is a 20-year-old, currently studying journalism at Ithaca College. Albino has always wanted to report on NASCAR and beginning at the end of 2014 that is exactly what he did with Speedway Digest. Since that time he has become well-known around the garage area and is looking to attend even more races than he did in 2015. 

Twitter: @DustinAlbino
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