Kurt Busch declared winner of rain-plagued Quicken Loans 400 at MIS
Kurt Busch survived a torrent of rain, including four red-flag periods, to capture Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Busch took his first and only lead when he passed a pitting Kyle Larson on Lap 133 to win the 27th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of his career and the second of the season in his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
Two-time Michigan winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second in his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, followed by last week's winner, Martin Truex Jr., in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy. Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano completed the top five.
The race was called with 138 of a scheduled 200 laps completed, as rain and lightning moved back into the area after causing havoc earlier in the day.
Busch won the race despite crashing his primary car in practice Friday and having to race on Sunday in a backup car.
"It's a team combination all the way around," said Busch, who joins teammate Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson as the only Sprint Cup drivers with multiple race victories this season. "Tony Gibson (crew chief) led these guys through a backup car. And the pit crew was there giving their best. It's an unbelievable feeling to know what we went through -- paced ourselves and found the lead towards the latter part of the race, and then the rain came in."
In winning multiple races in a season for the first time since 2011, Busch credited his crew chief with rallying the team after the crash in practice.
"Tony Gibson makes these guys work a little extra hard," said Busch. "I always say thanks, I'm always there early with them and it's a great team chemistry feel."
For his part, Earnhardt said the cautions were his downfall.
"When it came to the restarts, we didn't take off as well as the 41 (Busch)," said Earnhardt after earning his eighth top-five finish in 15 races. "We saw the same thing at Charlotte, the 78 (Truex) and the 41 take off real good."
Truex, the third-place finisher, now has 14 top 10s in the first 15 races of the year, the first person to do that since Richard Petty in 1969.
"Just missed it a little bit today, but really proud of our season, really proud to have obviously my name mentioned next to Richard Petty, The King, is pretty special," said Truex. "So thankful for my team and what they've done this year, and hopefully we'll keep this thing rolling."
It was a long afternoon at Michigan, as weather played havoc on the day.
Kasey Kahne and Harvick started from the pole under threatening skies in the Irish Hills of Michigan. Kahne and Carl Edwards immediately began swapping the lead, with Edwards settling into the top spot before the caution came out for rain on Lap 12, with the track red-flagged a lap later.
After a rain delay of 59 minutes and four seconds, the cars came back on the track. But before the race could resume, the rain came back, necessitating a second red flag, this one for 34 minutes.
The race finally restarted on Lap 29, two hours and 19 minutes after the first drop of the green flag. Again, Edwards came out in the lead.
Harvick took the lead during a competition caution on Lap 43. But then the rains began and with them the third red flag of the day, which stayed out for 35:38.
When the race restarted on Lap 52, Kyle Busch hit the frontstretch wall hard. Busch was fortunately uninjured, but his hopes of making the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup were badly compromised by his 43rd-place finish.
Following the yellow, Harvick jumped past Edwards into the lead again on Lap 60.
At the halfway point, Lap 100, Harvick led Kenseth, Edwards and Earnhardt.
But on Lap 122, Harvick had to pit with a flat right-front tire, which handed the lead to Brad Keselowski and cost Harvick a victory despite leading a race-high 63 laps.
Four laps later, the caution came out for debris, with Harvick 35th, two laps down.
Under caution, Edwards stayed out briefly to take the lead, but had to pit late in the caution because he was running out of fuel.
That put Kyle Larson in the lead and Earnhardt second, with more rain moving in. Like Edwards before him, Larson had to pit for fuel on Lap 133, with Busch taking the lead ahead of Earnhardt.
On Lap 136, the yellow came out, with more rain this time. And after a fourth red flag, NASCAR called the race, with Busch claiming the victory.