BROOKLYN, Mich. — Clint Bowyer has done it again! The driver of No. 14 Ford took the checkered flag in the rain-shortened FireKeepers Casino 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway. Bowyer decided to take two tires instead of four on the last pit stop.
“Can you believe it? 1-2-3 was awesome,” Bowyer told the media. “All the guys on the No. 14 team are right knit. We’ve had that consistency. It’s been so much fun across the board. The No. 4 car is knocking it out of the park. Somehow, I was able to hold off Kevin. You’ve got to knock on the door week in and week out.”
His teammates, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, finished second and third. That means there was a complete podium sweep for the Stewart-Haas Racing team. S-HR has won seven of the first 15 races this season. Harvick has five wins while Bowyer has two thus far in 2018.
“Weather wasn’t too much of a concern,” said Mike Bugarewicz, Bowyer’s crew chief. “Not enough can be said about S-HR. All four cars at one point in the race were in the top 10. Obviously, the qualifying effort speaks for itself. Every person who touches these cars has done a tremendous job. I think it’s Michigan. It’s track position. Those guys are four-wide. It’s all about the restarts.”
There was a rain delay from 2:15 p.m. until 4:30. Country music star Trace Adkins gave the command to start the engines. The green flag dropped shortly after to start the race.
Ryan Blaney won the first stage of the race at lap 60. Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick won the second stage at lap 120.
A total of 133 laps were completed out of a scheduled 200. There were nine lead changes among seven drivers during the race. The average speed was 132.723 mph; however there were speeds in excess of 200 mph during certain parts of the race. It lasted exactly two hours and 15 seconds.
“There’s nothing better than winning on a weekend off,” said Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing. “When you have it 1-2-3, it makes that weekend even better. It’s a big momentum for our group. It’s pretty awesome seeing Mike take a chance there. They had a good car. Kevin was pretty tough there. I think that was a good call. Enjoy some time off with our families.”
There were eight cautions for a total of 30 laps. The first was a competition caution on laps 27-29. Then, Bubba Wallace and David Ragan made contact in turn two on lap 37. Later, Matt Kenseth spun out in turn four on lap 50. Finally, there was a caution at the conclusion of stage one, lap 59.
On lap 67, Daniel Suarez and Paul Menard made contact in turn four on lap 67. Then, Kyle Larson spun out in turn four on lap 87. There was another caution at the conclusion of stage two. Finally, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact with Kasey Kahne in turn two on lap 130.
Kurt Busch leads driver points standings with 664 following Sunday’s race at Michigan. Kevin Harvick is 75 points behind with 589 and Joey Logano is 98 points behind with 566. Brad Keselowski now has 514 points and Clint Bowyer now has 510 to round out the top five.
Rochester Hills, Mich. native Brad Keselowski started in second position and ended up sixth. No Michigan-born drivers have ever won a NASCAR Cup series race at MIS.
Former NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace and Team Penske executive Walt Czarnecki were inducted into the Team Penske Hall of Fame. The two gentlemen made an appearance at MIS along with Roger Penske on Sunday before the start of the race.
Michigan International Speedway is celebrating 50 years of racing. A special exhibit sponsored by Consumers Energy is located in the fan plaza behind the grandstands. It features special historical moments that happened at the track. The exhibit will remain on the display for the August race.
“Does the fastest car always win? No. That’s what’s great about this sport,” Bowyer added.
All drivers and teams are on a week-long vacation. The next NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race will be the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday, June 24.