BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) — Matt Kenseth raced to his third NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the season, winning in convincing fashion Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
Kenseth, the pole winner, won for the 34th time in his career, leading 146 of 200 laps in the 400-mile race. Joe Gibbs Racing has won five of the last six Cup races.
Kevin Harvick was second, 1.7 seconds behind, and Martin Truex Jr. was third.
Austin Dillon, who was sent to the back at the beginning of the race because of an engine change, managed a fourth-place showing, and Kyle Busch took another step toward wrapping up a spot in the Chase with an 11th-place run in his backup car.
Kenseth had a comfortable lead before a caution with less than 20 laps remaining tightened things up, but he had little trouble holding off Harvick after the restart.
NASCAR used a special high-drag aerodynamic package for this race and last month’s even at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was supposed to improve passing, but aside from one brief duel at the front between Kenseth and Dillon with about 55 laps left, there was little drama in terms of lead changes.
Kenseth led for the first 22 laps, and there were 16 lead changes after that.
Clint Bowyer’s Chase chances look more tenuous after he went into the wall Sunday and finished 41st. Busch came into the race in 30th place, needing to avoid major mistakes because a top-30 ranking is required for entry into the Chase. Busch wrecked his car in practice Saturday and had to start the race from the back, but he had a solid, uneventful day, even leading for a couple stretches.
Harvick remained atop the standings and now leads Joey Logano by 48 points. Logano finished seventh.
The rules package caused some concerns over the heat, and NASCAR mandated a dual outlet duct be used on the right-side window to help with ventilation and keep the cockpit from being too hot for the drivers. NBC Sports showed a reading of over 150 degrees in the cockpit of Casey Mears’ car — and that was still during the first quarter of the race.