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NASCAR Cup: Clint Bowyer wins rain-shortened race at Michigan

TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 13: Clint Bowyer, driver of the #14 Haas Automation Ford, talks with Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford, during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 13, 2017 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

When rain abbreviated the FireKeepers Casino 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday to 133 laps from the originally scheduled 200, Clint Bowyer was up front to claim his second win of the year and the seventh for Stewart-Haas Racing, 15 races into the 2018 season. SHR finished one-two-three, with Bowyer’s teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch finishing second and third.

“It was a weird day,” Harvick said. “If you are going to have rain kind of take one from you, I would rather give it to my teammate. I am happy for Clint and all the guys on the 14 team. Everyone on our car did a great job. I had a really fast car, and the pit crew was the best thing that happened all day. They were solid all day and kept us up front. That, to me, is the best thing that came out of today.”

The Stewart-Haas trio were up front at the end of the second 60-lap stage that ended at lap 120, with Harvick taking the stage win. Bowyer was second in the group, but got off pit road first during the caution after the stage, courtesy of a two-tire pit stop. He maintained the lead until the yellow flag waved for the eighth and final time for a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spin on lap 129. Rain returned during the caution, so the race never returned to green. Rain also delayed the start of the race by nearly two-and-a-half hours.

“It took something crazy on a restart to be able to get Kevin,” Bowyer said. “That was a gutsy call. When we went out there on two tires, I looked in the mirror and I was so far ahead of everybody else, I was like, ‘Oh man, we are in trouble!’ The rain came just in enough time. I was trying to hold him off. I was cutting him off and taking his line away pretty bad. If it wasn’t for a win, you wouldn’t be doing that. He was so much faster than me in one and two. I got down in three and just had to take his line, because that bear was coming.”

Ryan Blaney was the winner of the first 60-lap stage. After Busch started on the pole and led the first 46 laps, Blaney took the lead on lap 47 and remained there until the end of the stage.

Busch and Harvick each led 46 laps across the first two stages. Harvick led most of the second stage, aside from laps led by Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard, Kahne by taking two tires during a caution early in the stage, and Menard by staying out later in the stage.

“We had a good car today and all weekend,” Menard said. “We didn’t qualify as good as we would have hoped and went from the back and got put to the back twice. Once I sped, and another time, we got door-slammed. I am really proud of my guys. We made a gutsy call to stay out on no tires with a bunch of laps on it. Gutsy call. We had the car to hold on, though, so it worked out.”

Kyle Busch finished fourth after starting in the back. He qualified third but was forced to the back at the start of the race because of an issue with his splitter in pre-race inspection. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones also dropped to the back at the start for the same splitter issue. Hamlin and Jones also raced the top-10 at some point in the race, but by the checkered flag, Busch was Toyota’s only representative in the top-10 of the finishing order.

Kyle Busch was the only non-Ford driver to finish in the top-eight. Menard rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Blaney and Chevrolet drivers Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray. The fourth driver from the Stewart-Haas Racing stable, Aric Almirola, wound up just outside the top-10 in 11th.

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Posted by on June 10, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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