Clint Bowyer’s late gamble and rain dance paid off as the Stewart-Haas Racing driver earned his first-career win at Michigan International Speedway in the FireKeepers Casino 400.
Bowyer’s crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz made the call during the caution at the end of Stage 2 to take on two tires, while the rest of the leading contenders went with four. Bowyer took control on the Lap 126 restart and used his control of the ensuing restart to get a jump on teammate Kevin Harvick. The two battled hard with Bowyer getting the better end after Harvick was unable to clear him exiting Turn 2. Bowyer’s efforts paid off when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun in Turn 2 on Lap 129. Then the rain started. The wet stuff picked up as the field was controlled by the pace car, forcing the race to be “official” after 133 of the 200 circuits at NASCAR’s fastest track, which gave Bowyer his second win of 2018.
Kurt Bush, who was the MIS pole winner, finished third, giving SHR a 1-2-3 sweep, its first for the organization.
The celebration began out of the rain, but things were still wild while celebrating Bowyer, and the teams’ feat.
“It took something crazy on a restart to be able to get Kevin,” a jubilant Bowyer said in a raucous Victory Lane celebration. “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 (coming off pit road), 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 (Turns) 1 and 2. I got down in (Turn) 3 and just had to take his line because that bear was coming.”
Kyle Larson, who entered MIS seeking his fourth-consecutive win at the speedway, finished 28th after spinning through the infield grass and damaging the splitter on Lap 85. That ended a string of four straight finishes within the Top-10.
This Sunday, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Sonoma Raceway, winding around the California road course.
Episode 15 of Track Talk is below with talk of the Cup All-Star aero package future and a look at Sonoma.