Chris Buescher goes back-to-back with another NASCAR Cup Series win at Michigan International Speedway in the Firekeepers Casino 400.
The clock is ticking for those outside the NASCAR Cup Series playoff picture. Four races remained coming into Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway. With these four races left, only four spots are up for grabs in the playoff field of sixteen.
Veterans Still on the Outside Looking In
Many veterans such as Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are left on the outside fighting their way into the playoffs. Michigan International Speedway is a wide, fast track that offers many opportunities for drivers to have solid finishes. With what is left on the schedule, Michigan could be the last good opportunity for a driver to race his way into the playoffs.
The Pole Sitter Christopher Bell Leads the Field to the Green Flag on Sunday
With rain in the forecast, the start of the Firekeepers Casino 400 was delayed a short time, Then, Christopher Bell brought the field to the green flag. Ross Chastain had a better start and took the lead coming out of the second turn.
Martin Truex Jr charged through the top five, and he passed Chastain for the lead on lap 13. On the next lap, Kyle Busch spun around after battling with Ryan Blaney in the first turn.
Truex Jr continued with the lead after the caution and was able to lead the next fifteen laps. Chase Elliott spun around on lap 34 after blowing his tire. On this caution, Martin Truex Jr stayed out once again and led the field to the restart. He led the final six laps to win the first stage.
Alex Bowman Takes Control of the Second Stage
The second stage kicked off with Alex Bowman controlling the restart. The race was not green for long as Josh Berry spun around in the fourth turn. Bowman led for another nine laps after the caution. On lap 64, Christopher Bell passed Alex Bowman on the front stretch but immediately spun in the first turn bringing out another caution.
Rain Delays the Firekeepers Casino 400 into Monday
Bowman returned to the lead as the rain began to fall. The race was later postponed to Monday afternoon. Once the race restarted, Martin Truex Jr and Bubba Wallace battled for the lead. Wallace took the lead for 16 laps before surrendering it back to Truex Jr.
Another caution flag was waved after Ryan Preece blew a tire. On the restart, it was Bubba Wallace and Daniel Suarez trying to claim the top spot. Suarez won the battle but could not win the stage. Martin Truex Jr tracked him down on the final lap to win the second stage.
Chris Buescher Seizes a Nail-Biting NASCAR Cup Series Win at Michigan
And Buescher did not have any plans to surrender it. He calmly led 30 laps bringing the race to the green flag pitting cycle. Buscher cycled back into the lead, but Martin Truex Jr once more wanted a piece of the action up front.
With 13 laps remaining, Truex Jr made a run on the inside of Buescher but his car lost grip of the track. As Truex Jr had to check up, Buescher stormed off to a one-second lead. Martin Truex Jr tried to make another run as the race ended, but it was not enough. Chris Buescher dominated the final stage to win the Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway for his second win in a row.
The race at Michigan was unlike those in years past. Usually, it’s a race that runs without a lot of caution flags or incidents and is dominated by one or two drivers.
The race on Sunday/Monday showed what can happen with a tight playoff picture. The race featured different race leaders, pitting strategies, and drivers having all sorts of issues. It was one of those races similar to a superspeedway race. Just survive to the end and give yourself a chance. Several drivers looking for their chance to win a spot in the playoff fell short.
Chris Buescher was able to avoid many of the accidents and issues other drivers were having. He found himself in the lead once more to start the third stage and did not relinquish it. Just like he did in Richmond a week before, he took control of the final stage and closed out the race with another victory.