The FireKeepers Casino 400 came down to a battle between teammates at Michigan International Speedway and it was Clint Bowyer who secured the victory.
BROOKLYN, MI - JUNE 10: Clint Bowyer, driver of the #14 Haas 30 Years of the VF1 Ford, celebrates after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 10, 2018 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
On the final restart Bowyer knew he had to go or Kevin Harvick would be the one celebrating in victory lane. After a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spin late, Bowyer’s crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz, made the decision to only change two tires and exit pit road first. When the green flag flew Harvick moved ahead of Bowyer, but could not clear him. Bowyer battled back to take the lead in turn three.
“It took something crazy on a restart to be able to get Kevin,” Bowyer said. “That was a gutsy call. When we went out there on two tires I looked in the mirror and I was so far ahead of everybody else I was like, ‘Oh man, we are in trouble!’ The rain came just in enough time. I was trying to hold him off. I was cutting him off and taking his line away pretty bad. If it wasn’t for a win you wouldn’t be doing that. He was so much faster than me in one and two. I got down in three and just had to take his line because that bear was coming.”
From there it was all Bowyer as he battled to stay in front of Harvick who had changed four tires on the final pit stop. In a race shortened to 133 laps due to weather, Bowyer was the one doing burnouts on the frontstretch celebrating his second win of the season and his first career victory at MIS.
Bowyer led a Stewart-Haas Racing contingent to finish 1-2-3, the first time in team history. Finishing behind Bowyer was Harvick in second and Kurt Busch in third. Ford Performance claimed seven of the top eight spots in the race.
The victory by Bowyer allowed Ford to lay claim to the Michigan Heritage. The Michigan Heritage is a recognition and celebration of the automobile and its importance to the race track and the manufacturers competing in NASCAR. The trophy is presented to the winning manufacturer of every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.
This marked the third time Ford has won the Michigan Heritage since its inception in 2013. It is the first time a Ford driver besides Joey Logano has secured the trophy for the manufacturer.
Kurt Busch started on the pole and quickly jumped to the lead. On lap 25 NASCAR had a competition yellow after morning rain delayed the start of the race. After a Matt Kenseth spin on lap 58, the drivers had one final opportunity to end the stage. Ryan Blaney took advantage of the one-lap shootout to claim the stage win.
Kasey Kahne used pit strategy to take the lead to start stage two. He held that position until Kevin Harvick showed his season-long domination on lap 72. He held that position until the end of stage of two, except for two laps that Blaney paced the field after a Kyle Larson spin.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will return to Michigan International Speedway for the Consumers Energy 400 on Aug. 12. Tickets start at $35 for the race. Fans can find the perfect campsite for their families and friends in any of the different campgrounds at the track starting at $160. Fans can purchase tickets and campsites at www.mispeedway.com or by calling 888-905-7223.
Children 12 and under are free on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, children 12 and under tickets start at $15. Children 12 and under can attend three days of NASCAR action for just $15, ensuring families a weekend of fun at affordable prices.
Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack. It has been the love of NASCAR racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike for 50 years.