Jimmie Johnson had been in the lead in the closing stages several times in his career at Michigan International Speedway and something always seemed to go wrong, well Sunday all that bad luck seemed to go away as Johnson won the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
It’s Johnson’s 69th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory and the third of his 2014 season.
“So proud to be here, it tickles me to death,” Johnson said in victory lane.
Finishing in the second position was Kevin Harvick with Brad Keselowski finishing in the third position. Paul Menard finished in the fourth position and Kasey Kahne ended up fifth. Finishing in the sixth position was Jeff Gordon with Dale Earnhardt Jr seventh. Rookie Kyle Larson finished in the eighth spot with Joey Logano finishing ninth and Clint Bowyer finished in the tenth spot.
It was a wild beginning to the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday as there were two cautions in the first seven laps. Brian Vickers spun on lap one collecting Travis Kvpail. Both Vickers and Kvapil would eventually continue but both drivers were several laps behind. Vickers finished 42nd and dropped from a Chase Grid position and Kvapil finished 43rd. Just as the race restarted on lap seven Kyle Larson spun as well, collecting Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. Both Larson and Kahne had limited damage and the most significant damage came to Truex’s car. All drivers would continue but Truex Jr finished four laps down in 37th.
The race would restart on lap 12 with Kevin Harvick leading the field. Harvick pulled away and was gone for a little while. However on lap 19 Jeff Gordon would pass Harvick for the lead and Gordon showed his muscle early. Gordon was setting a blistering pace early on in the event and by lap 36 Gordon’s lead was over four seconds.
Green flag pit stops began on lap 38 and after the entire field pitted without much of a problem, Jeff Gordon cycled back as the leader on lap 45. While Gordon was dominate early on Kevin Harvick began to chase Gordon down. By lap 55 Gordon’s lead was down to two seconds and by lap 57 Harvick passed Gordon for lead as Gordon got stuck in lap traffic.
Harvick was passing the traffic with ease and began to pull away from Gordon in second place. Harvick led until lap 72 when debris caused the races’ third caution flag. The leaders would pit and Jimmie Johnson acquired the lead after taking two tires on his pit stop. He led the field to green on the lap 79 restart.
It was on that restart that Kyle Busch began to have issues. Busch would have a problem with his left rear hub and was forced to go to the garage for repairs. Busch finished 41st.
Meanwhile Joey Logano took the lead from Jimmie Johnson on lap 80. Logano would lead until lap 92 when Johnson passed him on the high side and showed just how strong his Lowe’s Chevrolet was. As the race reached the half way point on lap 100 Johnson had a two second lead over Logano. Johnson led until the races’ fourth caution flag flew on lap 103 when David Ragan spun. Ragan wouldn’t hit anything and would continue. He finished 38th.
The leaders came down for a round of pit stops and Kevin Harvick won the race off pit road. Harvick led the field to green on the outside lane when the race restarted on lap 108. He pulled away on the restart passing Keselowski, who was on the inside and it was Kevin Harvick’s turn to lead. However, it was short lived because the races’ fifth caution flag flew on lap 110 when Alex Bowman pounded the outside wall. Bowman would continue after repairs and finish 40th.
The leaders would stay out under the caution and Harvick and Keselowski led the field to green on lap 114. On that restart Brett Moffitt, who was making his second career Sprint Cup Series start, spun causing the races’ sixth caution. He finished 34th.
Most of the leaders continued to stay out as track position was important. The race restarted again on lap 119. On lap 122 the races’ seventh caution flag occurred when both Denny Hamlin got loose and up into Aric Almirola in turn three. Hamlin had significant damage and Almirola had a little damage but both drivers would continue and Hamlin finished 29th and Almirola 31st.
Harvick would stay out under the caution, making strategy an important factor. Most of the other leaders would pit.
Harvick led the field to green on the lap 128 restart but would lose the lead to Joey Logano on the restart and Logano was in command. Several different strategies began to occur and from this point forward several cars would pit at different times.
Meanwhile, Logano was leading and by lap 133 his lead was just under one second. On lap 142 Harvick regained the lead from Logano and Harvick was leading as all cars needed to pit one more time. On lap 148 the races’ eighth caution flew for debris on the backstretch.
After several of the leaders pitted Jamie McMurray ended up with the lead on the lap 153 restart. Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard shot to the lead passing McMurray on the restart.
Johnson would pit for the final time on lap 165 under green. Dale Earnhardt Jr would lead and when he pitted Kurt Busch led. Kasey Kahne would then pass Kurt Busch for the lead on lap 183. When pit stops cycled around on lap 193 Johnson was leading by 3.7 seconds and Johnson would sail to victory.
Other notables in the field included Tony Stewart in 11th, Jamie McMurray 12th, Kurt Busch 13th, Matt Kenseth 14th and Ryan Newman 15th. Just Allgaier scored his career best finish in 16th. Danica Patrick was 17th and Juan Pablo Montoya made his Team Penske NASCAR debut with an 18th place finish. Trevor Bayne was 19th and Greg Biffle was 20th and the last lead lap car. Carl Edwards finished 23rd, and Austin Dillon finished 30th after a late flat tire caused him to pit twice.
With Johnson’s victory he became the only driver with three wins in the 2014 season. The other drivers with multiple victories are Dale Earnhardt Jr, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick. Those drivers are locked into the Chase for Sprint Cup. Also holding a Chase Grid spot currently with a victory are Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Kurt Busch. Filling out the remainder of the grid based on points are Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Clint Boywer, and Greg Biffle. Menard and Bowyer moved in while Vickers and Dillon backed out.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 22nd.Tags: Jimmie Johnson, michigan international speedway, Motorsports, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Quicken Loans 400