Matt Kenseth helped Joe Gibbs Racing continue its summer-long dominance of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, winning Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Kenseth, who has won two of the past three races, dominated Sunday, leading 146 of 200 laps and comfortably finishing ahead of Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and Austin Dillon. Kenseth and JGR teammate Kyle Busch, who finished 11th Sunday, have won six of the past eight races after Busch returned from severe injuries suffered in a crash at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February. JGR’s Carl Edwards also won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.
Beyond Kenseth, JGR dominated the top 10 Sunday, with Denny Hamlin finishing fifth and Edwards sixth.
Kenseth was fast all weekend at Michigan, starting the race from the pole. It was his third victory of the season and the 34th of his Cup career. That moves him into 20th all-time ahead of Busch and Fireball Roberts.
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“We had a fast car, by standards of today’s day and age,” Kenseth said.
Kenseth had the dominant car all afternoon, but he had to prove it one final time on a restart on Lap 188. He took the high line and pushed ahead of Harvick and never looked back.
Three who mattered
Matt Kenseth: Dominated this race (leading 146 of 200 laps), winning for a second time in three weeks.
Kevin Harvick: Managed a second-place finish despite running out of gas earlier.
Austin Dillon: Raced Kenseth for the lead for a while, but fourth-place finish is best of his young career.
▪ The high-drag package used Sunday (and last month at Indianapolis) wasn’t much of a factor. It didn’t seem to help cars pass and, if anything, contributed to a lot of spread-out racing.
▪ As hot as Joe Gibbs Racing is, Hendrick Motorsports seems to be limping into the Chase. Sunday’s results: Dale Earnhardt Jr., 10th; Kasey Kahne, 15th; Jeff Gordon, 17th; Jimmie Johnson, 39th. Johnson had more than his share of problems, missing his pit stall at one point and spinning another time. He finished the race with the right front removed from his No. 48 Chevy
▪ How bad a day was it for Timmy Hill’s No. 98 Chevy? It leaked oil on a prerace pace lap, delaying the start. Hill’s engine finally let go on the ninth lap and he was done for the day.
▪ No driver climbed in or fell out of the standings to make the Chase. Kyle Busch, who has four victories, solidified his spot by moving into the 29th spot in points from 30th.
They said it
“Everybody in this sport dreams about days like this. It doesn’t happen very often.” – Jason Ratcliff, Kenseth’s crew chief.
Irwin Tools Night Race
Where: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday.
TV: NBC Sports Network.
Radio: Performance Racing Network.