In NASCAR, good communication is everything. Just ask Kurt Busch. Before the arrival of crew chief, Pat Tryson, Busch was riding a 51 race winless streak. Since Tryson's arrival, Busch has an average finish of 9.5 and he has won two of the last three races. He drove to the latter of those wins this afternoon when he dominated the 3M Performance 400 at Michigan.
"This was a great win," Busch said amongst the shower of beer in victory lane. "I gotta thank all the fans who stuck it out on a Tuesday. We gave them their money's worth there at the end for them here. It was really a great win for our Miller Light Dodge."
With two laps to go, Busch appeared to have the race well at hand but a Greg Biffle spin set up a green white checkered finish and gave second place, Martin Truex Jr. one last shot at the win. But Truex Jr. failed to stay on Busch's bumper on the restart, allowing the blue deuce to drive off into the sunset.
"I wanted it so bad I could taste it back there behind Kurt,'' Truex Jr. said. "I felt like last time we probably had the car to beat. This time we didn't. This time we had good strategy and a good car there at the end. Great run for us."
Unfortunately, Truex Jr's teammates could not say the same. DEI's engine woes continued, this time at the expense of Mark Martin and Paul Menard. Dale Earnhardt Jr, who is trying desperately to make it into the Chase, looked rather strong at the drop of the green, as he raced his way up into the top 10 after starting from the back of the field. But a big mistake on pit road in the closing laps would prove costly for driver 8. Coming down pit road to get serviced, Earnhardt Jr. overran his pit stall and had to back up. The slow stop cost him a handful of positions.
"The car was struggling in the corners but it was real fast down the straightaway," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I made a big mistake on pit road late in the race. That probably cost us about five spots. But we ran good."
Earnhardt Jr. wound up with a decent 12th place finish but the two guys he is chasing to get into the chase for the Cup finished 1st and 2nd. With two races to go, he sits at 13th in the points standings, 163 away from the 12th place cutoff spot. For the next two weeks, he's going to have to be perfect if he wants to be racing with a purpose in September.
Jimmie Johnson pitted under the last caution and put on two fresh Goodyear Eagles but he could not do anything with the leaders.
"It took me 3 to 5 laps before I could run with them on my new tires," Johnson said. "We just didn't have enough laps."
Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon started from the pole and led the first 13 laps but a second consecutive late race spin dashed Gordon's hopes of a good finish. With 11 laps to go, he and Matt Kenseth got together off of turn two, causing Gordon to get stuck in the muddy infield grass. Before the wreck, Gordon reported that he may have had a tire going down.
"I thought the car would tighten up at the end but I was just so loose," Gordon said. "It was my fault what happened at the end there with Matt."
Kenseth finished 4th.
Although Gordon finished 27th after leading more than 27 laps, he still holds the lead in the championship standings over 5th place finisher, Denny Hamlin by 276 points.