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NASCAR: 2018 Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway Review

It’s Race 15 of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season at Michigan International Speedway.

Race conditions looked dry on track surface which is excellent news.

But it’s cloudy as it’s possible to see moderate to heavy rain later in the race.

Remember, we only need two full stages of racing to make the race deemed official in case rain halts any racing activity.

Summary

  • Race Distance: 200 Laps/400 Miles
  • Stages: 1 & 2, both Lap 60.
  • Final Stage: Last 80 Laps.

Stage 1

You see a pile of Blue Oval cars scrambling inside the Top 7 compared to both Byron in 8th & Newman in 9th for the Chevrolet pack.

  • Kurt Busch
  • Kevin Harvick
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Aric Almirola
  • Joey Logano
  • Clint Bowyer
  • Ryan Blaney

Don’t forget Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounds out the Top 10 in the No.17 Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing.

Competition Caution throws out on Lap 25

Since today’s race conditions are cloudy and have potential rain, NASCAR officials called out the competition caution on Lap 25.

It allowed all the teams & drivers to check out any adjustments that may be appropriate for their strategy.

Because potential rain and incident cautions can change the nature of the race, especially towards the final stage.

First Trouble Caution comes out with 25 Laps left in Stage 1

Bubba Wallace & David Ragan snitched up each other towards the wall at Turn 1.

Ragan’s No.38 Ford Fusion has moderate to massive rear quarter panel damage.

B. Wallace’s No.43 car has sparks flying from the rear before going loose & sent Ragan to the wall.

So, Bubba Wallace survives the scene with some damage to the No.43 Chevy.

But for David Ragan, his race came crashing right early.

Interestingly enough, none of the drivers gone to pit road for any adjustments at that time.

Another blow with the punctured tires with three laps left in Stage 1.

Matt Kenseth spun out towards Turn 4 when he ran 27th at the time.

It seems that he has a right rear punctured tire which means sparks are coming off from the affected area.

He still ran outside off the track along with the support truck before the No.6 team gets Kenseth’s car fixed on pit road.

Speaking of tires, Chase Elliott has a left rear punctured tire as he nurses his straight away to pit road.

Interestingly enough, NASCAR officials gave one green flag lap before Ryan Blaney won the first stanza.

Despite the car going loose before the first incident caution, Blaney gives his thumbs up on his 4th stage win of 2018.

Stage 2

On Lap 66, Daniel Suarez spun off towards the pit road entry.

Suarez has smashed the grass before suffering a right front flat tire to his No.19 car.

He tried to pass Paul Menard on the low line, but got loose & spun off Turn 4.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. looked a bit slippery, but he’s fortunate to survive the scene.

Kyle Larson spins out into the apron.

Larson spun off towards Turn 4 & into the grass as caution comes out with 35 to go in Stage 2.

It seems that Larson has left rear tire damage as he’s gone a little wide into the high line.

He then began to lose control while trying to keep in track with Kyle Busch in 8th.

Last few laps towards the halfway point.

Interestingly enough, Paul Menard played well with his strategy so far today.

He has saved a lot of fuel since he hasn’t gone back to pit road since Lap 70.

Menard still running inside the Top 5 after Kyle Busch passed him for 4th.

But, all he wants to make sure that his fuel still doesn’t run out by the halfway mark.

It’s a Ford Driver won another stage of racing in the second stanza.

But this time it’s Kevin Harvick who now has eight stage wins of 2018.

Stage 3

On Lap 129, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. lost control on the high side & touched the wall at Turn 2.

Luckily DJ Kennington managed to avoid Stenhouse which could’ve gone a lot worse with a crash.

There’s plenty of right rear quarter panel damage from Stenhouse’s car.

And it’s not a great day for Roush Fenway Racing where both cars such as Kenseth & Stenhouse lost control.

Stenhouse didn’t make any fault of his own.

It’s just Kasey Kahne going loose towards Stenhouse’s left rear bumper before suffering that consequence.

Mother Nature has shortened the race with 71 Laps left.

What about a solid pit stop from Clint Bowyer during the stage break?

He too got to complete his stop on time with two tires & won off pit road ahead of his team-mate Kevin Harvick.

Clint Bowyer maintained his lead the entire time during the final condensed stanza.

And what happens next?

NASCAR officials deemed the heavy rain was too dangerous for all drivers to resume out on the race track.

So Clint Bowyer won today’s Firekeeper’s Casino 400.

There’s so much joy from his Crew Chief Mike Bugarewicz & Spotter Brett Griffin of creating Bowyer’s magic turn into a reality.

The two chief men asked the No.14 Crew to get the pit stop wrapped ASAP.

Yes, Bowyer coming out with two tires looked to be the risk.

But it’s worth the strategy followed up when Mother Nature saw the race ended early.

And it seems Bowyer’s 2nd visit to victory lane in 2018 after Martinsville is like winning another jackpot lottery ticket.

If you’re a big Clint Bowyer fan, head to NASCARShop for his latest fan gear & collectibles here.

Results

  1. Clint Bowyer
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Kurt Busch
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Paul Menard
  6. Brad Keselowski
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Ryan Blaney
  9. Chase Elliott
  10. Jamie McMurray
  11. Aric Almirola
  12. Denny Hamlin
  13. William Byron
  14. Austin Dillon
  15. Erik Jones
  16. Alex Bowman
  17. AJ Allmendinger
  18. Martin Truex Jr.
  19. Bubba Wallace
  20. Jimmie Johnson
  21. Ty Dillon
  22. Ryan Newman
  23. Kasey Kahne
  24. Chris Buescher
  25. Michael McDowell
  26. Ross Chastain
  27. Corey LaJoie
  28. Kyle Larson
  29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  30. Daniel Suarez
  31. Gray Gaulding
  32. Landon Cassill
  33. Matt Kenseth
  34. DJ Kennington
  35. Timmy Hill
  36. Matt DiBenedetto
  37. BJ McLeod
  38. David Ragan
  39. Garrett Smithley

What’s next?

The NASCAR XFINITY Series will have a standalone weekend of their own.

It’s at Iowa Speedway next Sunday at 5 PM ET LIVE on FS1.

On the other hand, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Drivers will have a Father’s Day weekend off.

Two weeks later, All of the Cup Series Drivers will resume work when they go West at Sonoma Raceway in California.

Don’t forget FOX Sports will wrap their coverage after Sonoma in which NBC Sports will take over for the rest of 2018.

Get ready race fans as Dale Earnhardt Jr. will still be at the track.

But as a race day analyst on the NBC NASCAR booth with Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton & Rick Allen.

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