Both Ford and Chevrolet would have loved to win in their own backyard at Michigan International Speedway Sunday, but having home track advantage wasn’t enough to dethrone Joe Gibbs Racing’s dominant Toyotas.
Pole sitter Matt Kenseth was the class of the field Sunday afternoon, leading 146 of the 400 mile race’s 200 laps to take his third win of the season. It didn’t come easy, however, with Kenseth being forced to survive a Lap 187 restart after Jimmie Johnson spun in turn 4. With a small bump from JGR teammate Denny Hamlin on the restart, Kenseth rocketed past Team Chevy’s Kevin Harvick and held him off to take the win.
“Denny did a heck of a job giving me a good push there to get by. Honestly, the toughest one was with the 3 (of Austin Dillon),” Kenseth said post-race. “We went back and forth a few times and made some contact there, and it was hard to get away from him. My car took about five laps to get going, but once it got going, it was pretty stellar.”
The result marks the fifth victory for JGR in the last six NASCAR Sprint Cup Races, and makes it seven races since Chevrolet has taken a victory. Harvick stood the best chance of giving Team Chevy a win, but struggled with the handling of the No. 4 car early in the race and then ran out of gas on Lap 114.
“We had an up-and-down day, that’s for sure,” Harvick said. “The first half of the race or so (we) really struggled with the handling of the car. The guys did a great job of getting that, and then ran out of gas and came back and didn’t lose a lap and were able to have a good enough handling car to drive back up through there.”
Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon finished third and fourth, with Denny Hamlin rounding out the top five. Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also put two more Chevys in the top ten, finishing eighth and tenth, respectively.
NASCAR heads to Bristol, Tennessee for the highly anticipated Bristol Night Race next weekend. Click here for full results from the Pure Michigan 400, and here for a full schedule of next weekend’s NASCAR festivities.