BROOKLYN, MICH. — It was a Stewart-Haas kind of day at Michigan International Speedway Sunday. Kurt Busch sat on the pole, Harvick led the most laps, and Clint Bowyer found himself in the right position when the rain came to get the victory.
It was Bowyer’s second win of the season and the first 1-2-3 sweep for SHR. He led only the final eight laps of the race.
The winning move was a call to take two tires on a pit stop at the end of stage two. Crew Chief Mike Bugarewicz said he second-guessed himself on the call.
“When we were coming on pit road I was 100 percent sure two tires was the right call,” he said. “We got about three quarters of the way down pit road, I was about 70 percent sure. When he slid into the pit box, I was about 50 percent sure. By then, we were leaving. It was too late. Clint asked, ‘Are we the only one with two?’ ‘Yeah, we’re the only one with two.’ He did a great job on that restart, holding up one of the best, Kevin. Obviously six wins this year, one of the best in our sport right now. I can’t say enough about the great job that Clint did holding him off there. Just as much as important as making that two tire call for sure.”
Bowyer praised the call after the race.
“It took something crazy on a restart to be able to get to Kevin,” Bowyer said. “That was a really 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.”
Bowyer led Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch to the caution and eventual checkered flag.
When asked if he was mad over the result, Harvick responded, “I don’t control the weather.”
“Look, I’ve been on both sides of this,” Harvick said. “If you’re going to have racing luck work against you, you want to at least stay on your own team. It worked the other way at Dover. He was kind of in the same position, we went back to green. Today it worked out for him. Our guys, the exciting thing to me is we did a great job on pit road, were able to maintain the track position, beat everybody off pit road. Obviously those guys took two tires and a gamble. It rained for them in three laps. Paid off pretty good.”
Clint got some help celebrating in the media center during his post race availability. @ClintBowyer @TonyStewart @StewartHaasRcng @MISpeedway #NASCAR #MIS #FireKeepersCasino400 pic.twitter.com/AJDBw1bpuR
— Eric Young (@tsuperspeedway) June 11, 2018
Busch said his team had a strong day.
“We had an excellent day all the way through,” he said. “No big mistakes, no rough moments. Pit stops were solid, adjustments were solid. Restarts, I’d say three quarters of the time I was on the inside line, so that might have been a little bit where we were pinned down. But you have to make do with what you have, how the chips fall. I’m happy with our effort today. To finish third, rain shortened, of course you always want to go back racing again. But to see the two cars in front of me at the end, the 4 and the 14, that’s a big day for Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s very special to finish 1-2-3.”
Kyle Busch finished fourth while Paul Menard finished fifth.
The race was delayed by more than two hours at the start due to rain, and only 133 of the scheduled 200 laps were completed. There were eight cautions for 30 laps and nine lead changes among seven drivers.
Harvick led a race-high 49 laps, while Busch led 46.