In a Nutshell: With overnight temperatures in the 40s and the race-time temperature in the mid 60s, Saturday’s weather wasn’t anything like what the teams had encountered in practice or qualifying. That left crew chiefs up and down pit road scrambling, looking for the proper setup to handle the new conditions.
At the drop of the green, Greg Biffle led the pack into turn 1, but Brian Vickers had the lead by the time the field got back around to the start/finish line. Matt Kenseth started 12th and was in the top five within five laps of the start of the race. Denny Hamlin moved to the front quickly, followed by Kenseth. They traded the lead of the race in the middle stages of the race, but after the final pit stop it was all Hamlin. Hamlin marched away from the field over the closing laps and had a nearly five-second lead by the time the checkered flag fell on the CARFAX 250.
Following Hamlin to the line was Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Biffle. Mark Martin was running in the top five heading to the white flag when his car ran out of fuel. The top 10 was filled by Vickers, Paul Menard, Todd Bodine, Casey Mears and Clint Bowyer.
Who Should Have Won: Hamlin. Hamlin had the fastest car all day. He had a short period of time where Kenseth passed him on the track for the lead, but it didn’t last long. The rest of the race Hamlin was the dominant car and was never challenged after the last set of pit stops. The only other car that may have had a shot was Vickers, who was making his second start for Braun Racing.
Vickers was turning the fastest laps on the track for much of the race, but his team had a problem getting fuel into the car and lost numerous positions every time they came down pit road. After the last pit stop Vickers started dead last on the field and came back to score an impressive sixth-place finish.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race This Weekend
1) How can you not like the racing at Michigan?
Michigan is so big and so wide, that the cars run EVERYWHERE on the track. There were multiple instances during the race where there were cars four- and even five-wide on the track all of the way through the corners. It is just awesome to see all of the options that are available to the drivers and the different racing grooves that people are able to take advantage of.
2) Did Larry McReynolds really say on national TV that he could cut off his beard and use it as a hair piece like the one Jimmy Spencer wears?
If you missed it, you missed one of those moments in television history where you remember what you were doing when you heard it. At the end of Busch qualifying, the network was showing the obligatory random fan shots and Steve Byrnes told Larry McReynolds that a fan’s beard looked like his. McReynolds said he had never had a beard, but that he probably could grow one. Then, when it was long enough, he could cut it off and have it turned into a hair piece like the one that Spencer wears. Stay tuned for Raceday to see what Mr. Excitement has to say about it.
3) Is Carl Edwards trying to make the points championship interesting?
Edwards had another poor finish at Michigan after Reed Sorenson spun him on lap 25 while Edwards was struggling with his handling. In the process, he lost a lap pitting for tires after the spin and finished 28th, causing his team to lose the owner points lead. The sad thing for Edwards is that his finish was the best finish he has had in the last three races on the schedule. If Edwards luck doesn’t turn around, there is a chance that Harvick could make a race of this championship by the end of the season.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
Edwards’s recent woes have been well documented and his points lead has fallen to a mere 700 points over second-place Harvick, who has only run 18 of the 25 races. The poor finish also allowed the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team to take the lead in the owner points standings. The remainder of the top five in points are: David Reutimann (730 points back), Jason Leffler (878 points back) and David Ragan (922 points out).
Brad Keselowski was running in the top 10 as he took the white flag but his car ran out of gas. Keselowski coasted the length of the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway and crossed the start/finish line traveling approximately five mph for a 13th-place finish. It looks like Keselowski is going to finish out the year in the JR Motorsports entry.
Toyota placed two cars in the top 10 and probably had the fastest car on the track for most of the race with Vickers. The newest manufacturer in the series is looking stronger and stronger in the Busch series and success in the Cup Series can’t be too far behind.
Buschwhackers in the race: 23
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 431 of 1,028
Buschwhackers finishing in the top 10: 9
Buschwhackers finishing in the top 10 YTD: 179 of 250
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 22 of 25
Buschwhackers ranked in the top 10 in Busch Series points standings: 5
“I told them I was out of gas and I’m sure that got the crew to jump off the wall. I didn’t want to jinx myself and say it too soon. It couldn’t be more fun to win for these guys. I was just joking with the team. I had plenty of fuel.” – Denny Hamlin
“It was a pretty uneventful race. We were too loose at the beginning of the race and ended up too tight at the end. We lost a spot there at the finish because I ran the right front off. All in all it was a good day for our Roush Racing team.” – Greg Biffle
“I did everything I could to save some fuel there at the end. I even gave up a couple of spots there trying to do it, but we still ran out at the end. It was cool getting to race here in front of all of our family and friends. We could have had a better than top-10 finish had we not run out right there at the end.” – Brad Keselowski
“I don’t know what he [Sorenson] was thinking out there. I guess there’s a reason he runs like he does. It was just a very frustrating day.” – Carl Edwards
Next Up: Next week it is off to the newly repaved Bristol Motor Speedway for some racing that has often been compared to running jetfighters in a gymnasium. The race will be Friday night, Aug. 24, under the lights at 7:30 p.m. The race will be carried on ESPN2 and PRN.
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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