NASCAR Michigan Notebook: Kyle Busch Rides To 11th Place Finish, Grabs Valuable Points

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Kyle Busch (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kyle Busch (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

BROOKLYN, Mich.—The driver who used to be disgusted with a second-place finish was reasonably happy with his 11th-place run on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

Needing to tighten his hold on a position in the top 30 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, Kyle Busch did exactly that in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at the two-mile track in the Irish Hills—and he accomplished the feat after starting from the rear of the field in a backup car.

Busch moved up one position to 29th in points, but he bought himself some breathing room—18 points over 30th-place Justin Allgaier and 23 over 31st-place Cole Whitt. If Busch can maintain a top-30 position after the next three races, he’ll be in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, despite missing the first 11 events of the season because of injuries sustained in a Feb. 21 wreck at Daytona.

Team Matt Kenseth won Sunday’s race from the pole, but given Busch’s previous four finishes at MIS (31st, 41st, 39th and 43rd), Sunday’s 11th-place run was the next best thing to a victory.

“It was a success,” Busch acknowledged after the race, but he still had mixed feelings. “(But) it wasn’t what we wanted. We had a really, really fast car (on Saturday), but I screwed up and wrecked that car (in practice). It was a winning car, maybe not the winning car, but congratulations to our teammate Matt Kenseth and the 20 bunch.

“Our Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry was good today, a lot better car than I expected to have. Real proud of all my guys and can’t thank them enough for all the long hours they put in last night and this morning to get me prepared and ready with a good piece to go out there and do our best.

“If all things would have worked out a little better we might have finished fourth or fifth, but where we ended up there just outside the top 10 doesn’t matter. We just have to continue on with our points gathering and go on to next week.”


With the help of astute pit strategy that got him to the front of the field, Austin Dillon got a taste of what it’s like to be a frontrunner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet enjoyed the experience—and he learned from it.

Dillon started from the rear of the field after a broken valve spring in practice forced an engine change. But crew chief Slugger Labbe kept Dillon on the track during a competition caution called on Lap 21, and Dillon proceeded to lead Laps 23-40.

All told, he led 19 laps, six more than he had led in 22 previous races this year, and finished a career-best fourth.

“I had fun racing Matt up front,” Dillon said. “I just couldn’t lead very well when we got out front. It was a little bit of a learning experience, I think, for me. You know Matt’s been up there a lot in his career. For me, it was my first time. So, I will learn from it and get better next time.”


Before Sunday’s race NASCAR required the Team Penske teams of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski to change the front splitters on their two Fords, because those parts were dangerously close to the tolerances allowed in pre-race inspection.

With the thickness of the splitters at issue, NASCAR asked the teams to err on the side of caution and replace them. NASCAR took the splitters removed from the No. 2 (Keselowski) and No. 22 (Logano) cars to its research-and-development center in Concord, N.C., for further evaluation.

NASCAR will determine at its competition meeting early in the week whether further action is warranted.

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