Matt Kenseth, driving the #20 Dollar General Toyota, claims the victory from the pole for the 46th Annual Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Kenseth led the most laps with 146 of the 200 scheduled race distance laps giving himself his third victory in the Irish Hills of Michigan. Kenseth finished 1.722 seconds ahead of second place finisher Kevin Harvick in a dominating performance for the fifth victory in the past six NASCAR Sprint Cup series races for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Kenseth has 34 career wins in 567 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, including three victories for the 2015 season and his third victory at MIS. This is the 19th time the race has been won from the pole including last year when Jeff Gordon won from the pole for the 2014 season in August.
“Denny (Hamlin) did a spectacular job pushing me,” Kenseth said in victory lane. “From the restart zone to about Turn 2-ish it was like a super speedway race and it was who ever got lock up, and those Chevy’s can really hook up, Denny did a spectacular job giving me a good enough push there to get by.”
“Honestly the toughest one was with the 3 (Austin Dillon), we went back and forth a few times and made some contact up there and it was hard to get away from him my car took about 5 laps to get going and once it got going it was pretty solid,” Kenseth continued. “The guys gave us a rocket this race, we are going to work hard to keep it going.”
After leading both qualifying rounds, Kenseth dominated as was expected, while maintain a three-second plus advantage over second place during much of the race. But with 17 laps to go a caution for Jimmie Johnson’s spin changed all that with Harvick on the inside. Kenseth and Hamlin would hook up on the inside as Harvick would have Martin Truex Jr. pushing the #4 on the restart with 13 laps to go.
As Kenseth cleared the #4 of Harvick coming out of Turn 1, the race was Kenseth to lose. As Kenseth drove away from the field his challengers grew increasingly smaller in his rearview, and the remainder of the race stayed green.
Harvick finished second, Truex Jr. finished third, Dillon finished fourth and Hamlin finished fifth dropping back after pushing JGR teammate Kenseth. Sixth through twelfth are as follows: Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Paul Menard.
Next weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for short track racing Saturday night, for the Irwin Tools Night Race with qualifying for the race Friday with coverage on NBCSP beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET. Race coverage will begin on NBCSP with Sprint Cup Count-down at 7 p.m., followed by race coverage at 7:30 p.m. ET.