For the second time this year, the Monster Energy Cup Series fired the engines for some action at Michigan International Speedway for the Consumers Energy 400 on Sunday afternoon. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick prevails after battling last year’s winner Joey Logano for the lead in the final stage of the event. The last leg of the regular season has shown unexpected results, and it is only going to get better coming down to the finale.
Brad Keselowski led the field to the green flag and was able to cruise to a comfy lead. Jimmie Johnson tried to race the high line, where some traction compound was laid down. He made an early mistake and clipped the outside wall. He came down pit road for repair and lost his contention as he was scored four laps off the lead lap. At this point, Denny Hamlin tracked down Keselowski and was able to make a pass for the lead. After the field cycled through green-flag stops, Martin Truex Jr. took the race lead after stopping for fuel only. Truex Jr had issues passing lapped traffic and Hamlin was able to catch up and fight for the lead at the end of the stage. After the two battled for the lead, Truex Jr. was able to win stage one.
Brad Keselowski won the race off pit road during the stage break and continued to lead the field. Truex Jr. did not let him slip too far away, however, and was able to make a pass for the lead on lap 91. A late caution came out after the field cycled through green-flag stops as Brad Keselowski slipped racing through turns three and four. This led to a one-lap shootout to finish stage two. Kyle Busch was able to come out on top and win stage two.
Kurt Busch stayed out during the stage break and kicked off the final stage of the race in the lead. Joey Logano passed Busch on the restart, but shortly after, another caution flag waved for Spencer Boyd as he wrecked going through turn four. Clint Bowyer brought out another caution on the restart, right as Logano was pulling ahead of the field. Logano continued to be solid on restarts and jumped out to another lead. Kevin Harvick passed Ryan Blaney for second place and chased down Logano. Harvick was able to pass Logano for the lead with seventeen laps remaining. This was the move to win the race as Harvick had no contenders coming to the checkered flag. Harvick wins his second race of the year at Michigan International Speedway.
There are only three races left to the regular season, and it appears that two veterans are on the cusp of not making it into the playoffs. Jimmie Johnson sits in the 18th position, 12 points back from Clint Bowyer. Bowyer also holds a six-point margin over Daniel Suarez for the final spot. It has been a rough stretch for both Bowyer and Johnson as both had issues on Sunday racing in Michigan. It is going to take some solids efforts from both teams to continue to contend for a championship this season. However, they are veterans in NASCAR, and if anyone knows how to finish strong in clutch situations, it is these two.
Next weeks race is one of the biggest and most popular of the season. Bristol Motor Speedway will host the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, August 17th. Flashing lights and gleaming cars will go to battle in ‘Thunder Valley’ for what seems to be an all-time classic every year.