Rain, driven by Mother Nature was the first winner of the Firekeeper’s Casino 400 in Michigan on Sunday as storms swept across the track reschedule the race for June 10. Monday proved to be a perfect evening for racing and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series fifteenth race of the season was put in the books with Joey Logano bringing home his second win of the season.
Ford Motor Company was awarded the Michigan Heritage Trophy, presented to the manufacturer that wins the race, for the third year in a row as they continued to dominate Michigan International Speedway’s 2-mile oval.
Combined with the new aerodynamics unveiled for the 2019 season, and the long, wide nature of the track the raw power of the Mustang was on display all weekend as Ford took 8 of 10 starting positions, to include the top 3 spots. In the midst of all that power, Logano’s No. 22 Penzoil Mustang stood out as he captured the pole position on Saturday, picked up his series leading sixth stage win at the end of stage one and led 163 of the 203 laps on Monday.
For the second race in row, Chase Elliott looked well positioned to pick up the stage two win but was called off the track along with 6 of the other top-10 drivers for a quick two tire pit-stop and some fuel. The strategy paid off for the NAPA team as Elliott maneuvered his way into the top-5 with 50 laps remaining in the race with a slight tire and fuel advantage over the front-runners.
Unfortunately, on lap 152, No. 9 got a little loose coming out of turn 4 and brushed the wall forcing Elliott into pit row for repairs and taking him off of the lead lap. Taking advantage of the opportunity to fuel up and change all four tires did allow the car to stay on the track longer than the leaders but, in the end, Elliott could not get back into the top-10 and settled for a distant twentieth place.
Despite his almost wire-to-wire victory, Logano found himself tightly challenged for the checkered flag after Erik Jones spun into the infield grass with less than five laps to go bringing out the final caution flag of the day and forcing the race into overtime.
Once again, the power of Logano’s car stood out from the pack with an excellent burst on the restart and a quick sprint for the lead. The last two laps of the race were a tight battle between Logano and Kurt Busch who narrowed the lead to two car lengths and a mere .147 seconds before the checkered flag flew.
Martin Truex Jr. came across the line in third place, followed by Daniel Saurez and Kyle Busch to round out the top five spots.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series enters the longest break of the season with a two-week gap in the schedule until the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California on June 23.