NASCAR Weekend Wrap Up
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch and his Haas Automation crew chief, Tony Gibson, played the odds against threatening skies and emerged the winner of the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway in a backup car after slamming the wall on Friday.
The race was plagued by four red-flag periods due to rain with Busch taking over his only lead of the day when he passed a pitting Kyle Larson on lap 133, just in time to see the yellow three laps later for more rain. Despite it all, he took home the 27th Sprint Cup win of his career and his second of the 2015 season.
“It was a fantastic group effort,” said the beaming, three-time Michigan winner. “To be able to pull the backup car out and to have it as prepared as it was and then to have the extra work that went into it, all the crew members that Tony Gibson leads rolled up their sleeves, jumped right on in it, and we made it a race-winning backup car. That shows you the depth of Stewart-Haas Racing. Today the way the race unfolded for us, to come up from 24th and work our way through and have those restarts, everything unfolded perfectly for us with changes to the car, the restarts, to not break momentum, to end up on the outside lane most of the time, and then to have a shot up front, our car just kept getting better and better the closer we put it to the front, and that’s what you set up for.”
Runner-up Dale Earnhardt, Jr. said the cautions were his downfall in trying to find the right setup for better handling and never having enough track time to figure it out until the end.
“Yeah, I mean, you just had to wait on the weather to get moved out, wait on them to dry the track,” said Earnhardt after earning his eighth top-five finish in 15 races. “You know, it didn’t give you a whole lot of opportunities to understand your car and know exactly how to adjust it and what to work on, so we were still dealing with some issues that we wanted to improve when the final shower came.
“We didn’t really get a good qualifying effort in. We haven’t qualified well all year, and we got a good long run in and the car took off and by working the track bar passing a lot of guys. When it came to the restarts, we didn’t take off as well as the 41 (Busch). We saw the same thing at Charlotte, the 78 (Truex) and the 41 take off real good.”
Finishing third through five were last week’s winner at Pocono Martin Truex, Matt Kenseth, and Joey Logano.
There were five caution flags for 38 laps with an average speed of 116.688 mph for the rain-shortened completion of 138 laps of the scheduled 200.
NASCAR XFinity Series
Kyle Busch made his first NASCAR XFinity Series start since sustaining serious leg injuries back in February at Daytona, coming back with a flourish using patience and a plan to win Saturday’s Great Clips 250 at Michigan International Speedway for his 71st XFinity series career win.
Joey Logano headed the field after a late caution period trying to extend his lead with nine laps remaining when his Sprint Cup rival, Kevin Harvick, made a desperation move going into turn three in an attempt to take the lead. Both cars rubbed sending them skating up to the wall maneuvering skillfully to avoid hard contact but ruing any chances of victory
That sent defending XFinity champ Chase Elliott to the point with Kyle Busch in hot pursuit. Five laps later, Busch eased by Elliott and raced onward to the checkers.
“It was going to be hard to pass that 22 car, and fortunately Harvick took care of that for me,” Busch said. “They got together a little bit. This place was so fast today and such hard racing was going on. I hope it was a good show for the fans because I enjoyed it.”
Logano, who finished seventh, was upset with Harvick, who appeared to get loose.
“He drifted up and got into me,” said Logano. “I was racing hard and he just drove over his head. I gave him enough room. He drove in there pretty hard trying to slide me. I drove up in there too and he got loose underneath me and got into my left rear and up we went into the racetrack.”
Harvick afterwards admitted it was his mistake placing sixth. “I just got loose underneath him,” said Harvick. “Totally my fault. I was going for the win.”
There were eight cautions for 26 laps, as well as a red flag with 13 laps remaining.
“It’s an emotional day and any win is,” Kyle said. “You never know when it’s your last, obviously that’s for sure after Daytona and what happened.”
Rounding out the top five were Elliott, Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher, and Elliott Sadler with an average speed of 132.567 mph.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
17-year old Cole Custer won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race taking the weather-delayed Driving for Linemen 200 at the Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday night.
Custer saw an opportunity to move ahead on a restart on lap 155 of the 160-lap race to pass then leader, Tyler Reddick to take the lead for good.
For a majority of the race, it was a battle between current Truck points leader, Matt Crafton and hard luck contender, Erik Jones, who led the most laps with 84 was again denied victory after a late race crash leaving him with a 23rd-place finish.
“I got a pretty good jump,” said Custer, a native of Ladera Ranch, California. “We were able to get the lead and finish out the race.”
The start of the race was delayed 1 hour, 57 minutes by rain.
The race featured nine lead changes and five different leaders.
Custer, who has a win and two top-10 finishes in three truck races this season, sat in eighth place at the midway mark of the race. He was fourth with 10 laps left before making a strong move at the right time.
“The race kind of fell into our laps and went our way,” Custer said. “Sometimes you win them that way and sometimes you lose them that way.”
Spencer Gallagher was second. Veteran Johnny Sauter finished third.
Matt Crafton, finished 21st, but maintained a 12-point lead over Reddick after the eighth race of the 22-race series. Reddick finished eighth.