Johnson Finally Breaks Michigan Duck

Jimmie Johnson continued his impressive run of form as he took his third win in the past four races.

Michigan International Speedway had been a bogey track for Johnson, with the 2-mile circuit being one of only five that the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion had never won at. However, that all changed at the Quicken Loans 400, taking victory at the track where he has had an average finishing position of 32 over the past three races.

“Just an awesome awesome performance,” said Johnson. “We have figured out every way to lose this race and today we were able to get it done. I have to thank everybody at Hendrick Motorspors and Mr. H. That’s five in a row for the Hendrick organization. Great power under the hood, fantastic racecars and Chad Knaus and all these guys for what they do for me.”

Despite eight caution flags, the race still came down to pit strategy and fuel mileage, which Johnson used to his advantage, working his way to the front before stretching his fuel to hold back Kevin Harvick, who finished second for the third straight time at Michigan.

Johnson pitted for the final time on lap 165, taking four tyres while the rest of the field took either two tyres or fuel only, allowing him to build a four-second lead as the leaders cycled through green flag pit-stops. Brad Keselowski was holding second after the final green flag stops were made, but Harvick, who had to pit to fix a vibration in the final stops, put in a stellar final stint, passing both Paul Menard and Keselowski to finish second behind Johnson.

The early stages of the race were dominated by Harvick and Jeff Gordon, who dropped out of contention for the win after falling behind on pit strategy, finishing the race in sixth. The top-ten finish was good enough to keep Gordon at the top of the standings, leading a Hendrick Motorsports 1-2-3, with Johnson 15 points behind in second and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. holding third, 23 points back.

Keselowski came through to finish third, ahead of Menard and Kasey Kahne in fifth, despite having been involved in an accident on lap 7. Gordon and Earnhardt Jr took sixth and seventh, while Kyle Larson rounded out the top eight, having rallied back from a speeding penalty on lap 149 which took him out of the running for a potential win.