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MENCS: Tire gamble pays off when rain falls for Bowyer

(MRN) Clint Bowyer celebrated his 39th birthday twelve days ago and Sunday afternoon, “Mother Nature” delivered a belated gift – a rain-shortened victory at Michigan International Speedway. After briefly dueling with Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick early in the third stage … with rain approaching, Bowyer held the race lead when the yellow flag was displayed for Ricky Stenhouse Junior’s spin. And when showers returned to the two-mile oval moments later, Bowyer and his Number-14 team were shown the way to Victory Lane after NASCAR called the race – the start of which had already been delayed some two-and-a-half hours by rain. Weather halted the race sixty-seven laps short of its scheduled distance with Bowyer recording his tenth series victory and second this season. Harvick finished second and pole winner Kurt Busch ran third, giving Stewart-Haas Racing Fords a sweep of the top three spots. Kyle Busch’s Toyota and Paul Menard … in another Ford … completed the top five. William Byron was the highest-finishing rookie, in thirteenth … It was a banner day for Ford with seven cars in the top ten and a pair of stage wins for Harvick and Ryan Blaney. The manufacturer led all but twelve of the 133 laps that were contested … Bowyer’s victory snapped Kyle Larson’s three-race Michigan winning streak dating back to the summer of 2016. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver was bidding to join Bill Elliott as the only competitors in track history to win four Cup Series races in a row. Larson finished second in yesterday’s opening stage but faded during the second half of the race, finishing 25th.

NASCAR CUP SERIES

Top 10 Finishers in the FireKeepers Casino 400

DRIVER STARTING POSITION LAPS LED

1. Clint Bowyer (12) 8

2. Kevin Harvick (4) 49

3. Kurt Busch (Pole) 46

4. Kyle Busch (3) —

5. Paul Menard (15) 3

6. Brad Keselowski (2) —

7. Joey Logano (5) —

8. Ryan Blaney (9) 15

9. Chase Elliott (13) —

10. Jamie McMurray (24) —

RACE NOTES …

Martin Truex Junior finished eighteenth in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 and remains behind his championship pace of a year ago. Through the first fifteen races of the 2017 campaign, he had two race wins and ten stage wins, and was second in the standings – five points behind leader Kyle Larson. In 2018, Truex again has two race victories but just three stage wins and is sixth in points – 158 behind leader Kyle BuschSunday’s rain-shortened race was the second of the weekend in Michigan. Austin Dillon was victorious in Saturday’s X-finity Series race, which ended thirty-four laps short of its scheduled distance.

NASCAR CUP SERIES Unofficial Point Standings After 15 Races

DRIVER POINTS BEHIND LEADER

1. Kyle Busch (4) 664 —-

2. Kevin Harvick (5) 589 -75

3. Joey Logano (1) 566 -98

4. Brad Keselowski 514 -150

5. Clint Bowyer (2) 510 -154

6. Martin Truex Jr. (2) 506 -158

7. Kurt Busch 493 -171

8. Denny Hamlin 468 -196

9. Ryan Blaney 457 -207

10. Kyle Larson 443 -221

11. Aric Almirola 433 -231

12. Jimmie Johnson 377 -287

13. Chase Elliott 362 -302

14. Erik Jones 346 -318

15. Alex Bowman 331 -333

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 327 -337

Paul Menard 327 -337

18. Austin Dillon (1) 292 -372

19. Jamie McMurray 283 -381

20. William Byron (R) 277 -387

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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