Joey Logano leads most of FireKeepers 400 for win at Michigan International Speedway
After a rain delay from Sunday afternoon to Monday evening and an overtime restart that extended a 200-lap scheduled distance to 203 laps, Joey Logano claimed his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of 2019 and his third-career win at MIS. The win also was Team Penske’s fifth Cup Series win of the year, 15 races into the 36-race season.
“This one, outside of the crown jewel events, I consider this the biggest race to win, because it is Ford Motor Company’s backyard and Roger Penske’s backyard, and there area lot of diehard Ford fans out here in the grandstands right now, and it feels great to represent that company and get to victory lane today,” Logano said.
Kurt Busch got by Martin Truex Jr. in the two-lap, green-flag sprint to the finish to take runner-up honors. Truex finished third.
“My second gear was off a little bit all day on the restarts, so I was getting jumped but then, the 22 [Logano] just went like a whole car length before his restart zone. I don’t know how you get away with that. I thought we were supposed to go in the box,” Truex said. “Aside from that, a great day for the Auto Owners Toyota.”
Daniel Suarez and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five.
Logano dominated, leading 163 laps. The only driver who seemed to be a viable challenge to the eventual winner was Kevin Harvick, who finished seventh after being a lap down and in last place at one point as a result of problems with loose wheels in the first half of the race.
“We had a really fast Busch Light Ford and just made a lot of mistakes today,” Harvick said.
Harvick lost seven positions on pit road, despite taking on two tires, during a competition caution on lap 20. He pitted for a loose wheel with seven laps remaining in the opening stage. Then, he pitted twice during the caution between the two 60-lap stages for another loose wheel. He got the free pass onto the lead lap during the third caution on lap 70 but reported another vibration.
After starting on the pole, Logano led all but four laps of the opening 60-lap stage on his way to the stage win. Austin Dillon won the second stage that ended on lap 120.
Logano led all laps in the second stage until pitting under green inside the final 10-laps of the stage. He was one of nine drivers to stay out during a lap-70-caution, and as a result, couldn’t get to the end of the second stage without a green-flag pit stop.
He was back up front for the restart at the beginning of the final stage after a two-tire stop. By that time, Harvick was up to second to challenge for the lead. The two drivers traded the lead back and forth, and by the time Logano retook control of the race with 52 laps remaining, Harvick had led 15 laps, second to Logano in the laps-led category.
“I made one mistake on the restart and let the 4 [Harvick] get to the outside of me and really made me mad at myself,” Logano said. “I was able to make that up, which is great.”
The race field cycled through green-flag stops inside the final 50 laps. Logano gave up the lead to pit with about 25 laps remaining. When the cycle completed with 15 to go, he was back up front.
All three Team Penske drivers finished in the top-10. Brad Keselowski, who was a lap down just past the halfway point of the race because of a pit-road safety violation when one of his crew men dropped an air gun, finished sixth. Ryan Blaney was ninth.
Other top-10 finishers included Ryan Newman in eighth and Alex Bowman in 10th.