By AMANDA VINCENT
Just call Kurt Busch the 2015 NASCAR Rain Man. When rain delayed the April 25 race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, Busch was the driver celebrating a delayed win. After rain delayed and shortened the Quicken Loans 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., on Sunday, Busch was the driver finally getting to celebrate in a make-shift victory lane, 62 laps before the scheduled 200-lap distance. He did so after starting the race in a back-up car, because he had already wrecked his primary car in practice earlier in the weekend.
“Tony Gibson (crew chief) led these guys through a back-up car,” Busch said. “And the pit crew was there, giving their best. It’s an unbelievable feeling to know what we went through, paced ourselves, and found the lead toward the latter part of the race when the rain came in.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, Martin Truex Jr. was third, Matt Kenseth fourth, and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five.
Truex’s third-place finish was his 14th top-10 finish in the first 15 races of the season. The last driver to post 14 top-10s in the first 15 races of a season was Richard Petty in 1969.
“Really proud to have my name mentioned next to Richard Petty,” Truex said. “The King is pretty special, and I am so thankful for my team and what they’ve done this year. Hopefully, we’ll keep this thing rolling.”
The race ran green for its first 11 laps before being interrupted by rain for the first time. After two laps of caution, the red flag was displayed for 59 minutes. Before the race could return to green, though, another shower hit the track while the field made laps under caution, resulting in another red flag of more than half an hour.
The race eventually returned to green before a competition caution on lap 40. Teams headed for pit road, with Kevin Harvick leading the way off pit road just before another shower re-introduced the red flag.
A few laps after the race went back green, Kyle Busch made hard contact with the wall on lap 55 to bring out another caution. Busch reported over his team’s radio that rain had returned. The quick shower didn’t result in another red flag, but it did make for a lengthy caution.
Harvick continued to lead until a lengthy cycle of green-flag pit stops between laps 77 and 97. He cycled back to the lead and led a race-high 63 laps before a right-front tire issue on lap 122 resulted in an extra pit stop that put him two laps down.
Kyle Larson restarted with the lead after a lap 125 caution for debris, having stayed out during the caution, hoping rain would return to make the race official before his tank went try. Rain returned and ended the race early, but it was too little, too late for Larson. A few laps after Larson’s car sputtered and he had to pit for fuel, the race was called with Busch up front.
“We could see weather coming there of of four and just praying that it would get here in time for me to stay out and be in the lead when the rain did hit,” Larson said. “Hey, I applaud my guys for trying.”
Brad Keselowski finished sixth, Jamie McMurray seventh, Paul Meneard eighth, Trevor Bayne ninth, and Clint Bowyer was 10th.
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