Joey Logano‘s trip to Victory Lane was delayed by a day, but it was worth the wait. After Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway was postponed to Monday evening due to rain, the pole sitter dominated en route to his second win of 2019.
Stages #1 and 2
Denny Hamlin quickly ducked to Logano’s inside to take the lead as the race began, but Logano fought back to maintain the spot. Behind him, Kevin Harvick took second. At the lap 20 competition caution, Logano remained in front.
On pit road, Harvick struggled with his stop and dropped to eighth. His day worsened by lap 40 when he was forced to pit for a loose wheel. As a result of the untimely stop, he fell behind a lap.
Although Aric Almirola briefly took the lead from Logano, the latter reclaimed it and held on to score the stage victory. Alex Bowman took second, followed by Erik Jones, Almirola, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Paul Menard, and Brad Keselowski. Landon Cassill took the free pass to regain a lap, keeping Harvick one lap down.
Logano won the race off pit road to open Stage #2, while Darrell Wallace Jr. was penalised for changing lanes prior to the restart and had to serve a pass-through.
On lap 70, Kyle Weatherman — running his first Monster Energy Cup Series race of the year — hit the wall in turn two and part of his rear end detached, leading to a debris caution. Most of the field pitted to add fuel, while nine drivers including Logano stayed out.
By lap 85, Harvick’s woes appeared to have disappeared as he gained speed and cracked the top fifteen. Ten laps later, the #4 was in the top ten. Meanwhile, Hendrick Motorsports team-mates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman made contact, damaging the latter.
With less than ten laps remaining in the stage, Larson was the first to pit under green, followed by Logano and Team Penske ally Brad Keselowski, but the latter suffered a crewman safety penalty and had to do a pass-through. Fellow Penske driver Ryan Blaney inherited the lead as the pit cycle continued, and Austin Dillon ultimately became the leader to take the stage win, the first of his career. Behind were Harvick, Truex, Busch, Almirola, Kyle Busch, Daniel Hemric, Bowman, and Chris Buescher.
Stage #3 and overtime
Logano and Elliott led the field to the Stage #3 green flag on lap 126. As the leaders reached turn two, Harvick forced them three-abreast to take the lead.
On lap 129, Clint Bowyer bumped with Jones spun in turn two, bringing out the caution and ending his race. The race resumed on lap 133 with Harvick keeping his position. Another yellow came out shortly after when Dillon tangled with William Byron and slid into the outside wall. The green flag waved on lap 141.
In response to the wreck, Dillon simply tweeted:
With less than 30 laps to go in the race, Larson once again began green flag stops, doing so on lap 173. Harvick followed the next lap, with Logano doing the same afterward. As the pit cycle wore on, Daniel Suárez, Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, and Byron enjoyed time in front before they hit pit road. Once the shuffle ended, Logano was firmly back in front and maintaining a safe advantage over Truex.
On lap 197, Jones spun to force overtime. Despite the field being bunched up, the others could not beat Logano as he took his second win of 2019, third at Michigan, and first at the track since 2016. Kurt Busch finished second, followed by Truex, Suárez, Kyle Busch, Keselowski, Harvick, Ryan Newman, Blaney, and Bowman.
“You race this whole race and you keep building that notebook up,” Logano said in a post-race interview with FS1. “But what a great execution day from our race car, obviously was very fast. Our pit crew was amazing, T.J. Majors, my spotter, spotted his butt off up there.”