Race Report: Michigan International Speedway

12-14 June, 2015, Brooklyn, Michigan USA Carl Edwards, Arris Toyota Camry ©2015, Matthew T. Thacker NKP

Rain played havoc with today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway causing several delays and contributing to an accident that took Kyle Busch out of the race early and left him to finish 43rd. When it finally ended it was Matt Kenseth leading Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish, while Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards took the checkered flag in 11th and 12th respectively.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 12th position but quickly jumped into the top ten and was running seventh just seven laps into the 400-mile race. The race would go through several delays and red flag stoppages for rain. Kenseth would restart third on lap 59. He would quickly pass his teammate Edwards for second shortly after the restart and proved to have one of the fastest cars on the track. He would take the lead on lap 84 during a round of green flag stops but settled back into second behind only the 4 car once again after the field cycled through. He would pit at lap 120 just before a caution and with the threat of rain once again upon the two-mile track. Kenseth would restart seventh and managed to gain three spots before the rain fell one final time on lap 138. He would finish fourth on the day.

Denny Hamlin, started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota from the 13th position and would settle in to run 15th through the opening 10 laps of the race. The race would go through several delays and three separate red flag stoppages. Various pit strategies would leave Hamlin back outside the top 20 for a restart on lap 59. He would cycle back toward the top 10 but another four-tire stop put him back to 20th once again on lap 100. He would race 18th at lap 115. With rain threatening and a caution out many teams used a variety of pit strategies. Hamlin would run 12th when the race went back to green and would go on to finish 11th when the rain finally fell one final time on lap 138.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota in the fourth position but jumped right to the front to take the lead on the opening lap. He would momentarily give way to Kasey Kahne on the second lap but then settled in on the lead lap for the next 39 circuits around the two-mile speedway of Michigan. The race would go through several delays and three separate red flag stoppages. He would run second when the race went back to green on lap 59 following a big wreck by his teammate in the 18 car. He ran third at lap 100 but began to drop back a bit while dealing with loose handling conditions on his No. 19 Camry. With rain threatening once again crew chief Darian Grubb would ask Edwards to remain on the track following a caution for the 4 car. Unfortunately the rain would not come soon enough and Edwards was forced to bring his ARRIS Camry back down pit road for fuel before the restart. That restart proved to be a short one however as rain came once again and this time NASCAR would rule the race complete. The need for the final stop would leave Edwards just outside the top ten and he would be scored with a 12th-place finish.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota from the 10th position and was running ninth when the opening caution for rain fell on lap 12. The race would get delayed multiple times with three red flag stoppages and many laps having to be run under caution. Busch came out of the pits on lap 45 running in the top five following a two-tire pit stop. Despite having to run several more caution laps during another brief bout of rain the green flag would drop again on lap 52. As the field raced off turn 4, Busch would get loose on what many reported to be a still damp track. The M&Ms Camry would slide up the track and hit hard into the outside SAFER barrier. The damage forced the 18 team the garage and he would finish in last place on the day.

Kurt Busch captured the rain shortened win and was followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Martin Truex, Kenseth, and Joey Logano rounded out the top five. There were five cautions on the afternoon for a total of 38 laps and 17 lead changes among 11 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take a week off before heading out west for the first road course test of the 2015 season at Sonoma (CA) Raceway on June 28. Fox Sports 1 will have live coverage starting at 3 PM ET.