At the beginning of the second and final practice at Sonoma Raceway, the red flag flew early in the session due to an unsuspected killing of a rabbit by Kyle Busch, leaving a bloody smear on the left front. At the time of the incident, Busch was second on the charts.
“That [explextive] came out of nowhere”, said Busch in an interview with Fox Sports 1, “I seen it for a second, then i moved a little bit right. I said ‘keep going, keep going’, but then he stopped and turned, we looked eye to eye, and then it was over."
The team will have to replace the brake duct at the point of impact from the rabbit. However, the team was able to make repairs, and returned to the track for practice.
Busch was 14th in the first practice with a speed of 93.702 mph. In the final practice session, Busch ended up P5 with a speed of 95.144 mph.
With eight restarts on the afternoon, Logano controlled all but one, when he got passed by Chase Elliott. That was the only stint of the race in which the No. 22 Ford was not out front for a significant amount of laps, other than green flag pit stops.
Winning from the pole at Michigan is something that Logano has done in the past. In 2013, he started out front, finishing out front, in what was his first victory with Team Penske. The triumph came in Ford's backyard, as their headquarters are in the Detroit area and Adsel Ford II was in attendance for the victory.
"Everyone did a good job at understanding what this package was going to do and put together a great racecar for me," Logano said of his victory. "It was a lot of fun racing with Chase [Elliott] there at the end and [Kyle] Larson. They had the restarts figured out down on the bottom pushing each other. We've been knocking on the door of a victory all season, but it's nice to get that win and lock ourselves into the Chase."
This is Team Penske's 99th career victory in the Sprint Cup Series and the third victory of 2016 for the organization.
The 400-mile event was a bit unusual compared to Michigan standards. NASCAR brought a new aerodynamic package, hopeful of using this package in 2017. Most of the drivers throughout the field liked it, as like most races this season, it put the racing back in the drivers hands.
Elliott recorded a career-best second-place finish at Michigan. The No. 24 car was out front for 35 circuits, after leading 51 laps last week in Pocono.
Logano got around Elliott on a restart with around 50 laps to go. He slid out of the groove and fell back to fourth. On the resuming restart, he pulled his Chevrolet back up to second, where he would remain the rest of the race.
"You can't do dumb stuff to win these races," Elliott said post-race. "It was completely my fault. The guys gave me a fantastic car today. That one was on me."
Kyle Larson remained in the top five for the majority of the event in Michigan. Coming home third is the No. 42 team's second top-three finish in the past four races and now sits 19th in the championship standings, 23 points outside of the Chase cutoff.
"I'm not sure that there was anything I could have done there," Larson said of finishing third. "I was pretty tight there for two or three laps, sometimes for a full run. Staying out front the whole time was a big key. The Target Chevrolet was definitely a third or fourth-place car."
Brad Keselowski finished fourth at his hometown track and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five after starting in 29th.
Carl Edwards finished sixth, while Tony Stewart came home seventh, after spending much of the day inside the top five. Austin Dillon rebounded after a possible left rear tire failure passed halfway to finish eighth. Jamie McMurray was ninth and Kurt Busch completed the top 10.
Many of the big name drivers, including Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kyle Busch all faced difficulties on Sunday.
On Lap 54, the No. 18 car was on fire. On the next restart, Chris Buescher got loose and up into Earnhardt who smacked the outside wall, finishing 39th. Hamlin brought out the final caution with under 10 laps to go when he cut down a left rear tire and spun to the inside wall.
The Cup Series is off next week, but will resume in two weeks at the first road course of the season, Sonoma. The younger Busch is the defending winner at that event, which was his first of five victories in 2015.
Through the first stint of the race, Busch mentioned on the radio how he felt the engine was a bit off. After a Lap 51 restart, it took just three laps for his Toyota to blow up.
"At least I had a 30 lap warning that it was coming," Busch said of his blown engine. It was shaking really bad and was going south for a while and had been building a lot of heat."
Since Busch's win at Kansas in early May, his season has gone in the wrong direction. He's had four straight finishes outside of the top 30, including a 30th in Dover, 33rd in the Coca-Cola 600 and 31st at Pocono. It's likely that the No. 18 will finish last at Michigan for the second consecutive season.
"The last four races have been really, really bad," Busch said. "It's a good think we started out the season the way we did. We had a lot of top fives and three wins. It gave us a good start and a good foundation, but we've got to get this look turned around and go in the right direction.
Heading into Michigan, Busch sat fifth in the standings, 75 points off the championship lead. The next race is in two weeks at Sonoma, where he is the defending winner.
After a speeding penalty in the beginning of the race, Daniel Suarez surprises Kyle Busch for his first career victory followed by Paul Menard, Erik Jones, and Elliott Sadler round out the top five. This is Joe Gibbs Racing’s eighth win of the 2016 season. Suarez made the charge to the lead on the final restart to pass Kyle Busch on the last lap of the Menards 250. Suarez also locks himself into the 2016 Chase for the Xfinity Series Championship. Suarez is credited for leading the last two laps. The driver from Mexico is the sixth foreign born winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the second on an oval. Suarez is also a graduate of the NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity programs.
In victory lane, Suarez was elated about his first victory. “I don’t think I can speak English or Spanish right now. I don’t have the words to describe what I’m feeling right now.”
Suarez dedicated this victory to his teammate, Erik Jones. Jones lost his father in a battle to cancer on Tuesday.
“You never want to get beat, but it’s cool when you get beat fair and square. He ran me down and had a really fast car at the end. He had some speed and a really good car,” said Kyle Busch post-race.
The Menards 250 from Michigan International Speedway saw eight lead changes among seven drivers. Kyle Busch led the most laps at 59. followed by Erik Jones (18 laps), Alex Bowman (11 laps), Daniel Suarez ( two laps), and Elliott Sadler, Paul Menard, and JJ Yeley leading only one lap.
The caution flag flew for three times for a total of 14 Laps. There were two cautions for debris at lap 29 and 82. The third caution involved an incident with the car of Chris Cockrum, where he backed it into the fence on lap 88.
The average speed of the race was 155.952 mph. Time of the race was one hour, 35 minutes, and 11 seconds. Suarez beat Busch by a margin of victory of .280 seconds.
Suarez extends his points lead to 18 over Elliott Sadler, followed by, Ty Dillon (-36), Erik Jones (-55), and Justin Allgaier (-64). Jones, Sadler, and Suarez have locked themselves into the Chase with a win.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will join the Camping World Truck Series at the Iowa Speedway for a Father’s Day special in the American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen. The first practice session at Iowa will begin at 4:30 pm Eastern.
On Friday, Logano swept all three rounds of qualifying. The No. 22 car pole-winning speed was 199.557 mph, almost two-tenths of a second faster than second-place.
"It just feels really good because the last couple weeks we've come in second in the final round," Logano said of his fast lap. "We've been qualifying really well with this No. 22 car, we just haven't had the pole. It's nice to finally pull through and get a pole with this new package. It really goes to show how good Team Penske is at preparing cars from the shop and really not knowing what they're coming to and we have great adjustability and a fast car."
Logano started first at Martinsville in April when he was lapped in the opening segment of the race.
Martin Truex, Jr. turned the second fastest lap at 199.016 mph. Struggling in qualifying last week in Pocono, the Furniture Row Racing team made sure they put down a hot lap for Michigan.
In his best start of 2016, Tony Stewart will start third. At 198.950 mph, it's his best start since Watkins Glen last season.
Denny Hamlin will start from fourth at 198.774 mph with rookie Ryan Blaney rounding out the top five at 198.588 mph. The No. 21 car needed two attempts to even get out of round one, but rebounded to pick up his first top-five starting spot of 2016.
Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott make up the top 10.
Pocono pole-sitter, Brad Keselowski will start from 15th at his home racetrack. The defending winner of this event, Kurt Busch, will start in the next row at 17th.
After having the fourth quickest time in the opening practice, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified 27th on Friday. It's his ninth time this season that the No. 88 car had started the race from outside the top 20.
Kevin Harvick was on the track twice when the session was paused is Round One, putting three cycles on his tires by the time he complete a timed lap. The first stoppage was for Jamie McMurray leaking a piece of debris. David Ragan brought out the second caution when he spun in Turn 3 and hit the outside wall.
"The common sense was pretty low there on when to throw the caution," Harvick said of being out on track twice when the yellow flag flew during his qualifying run. "I think we were the only racecar on the racetrack and debris came up out of the groove. It is what it is. There's not much you can do about that.
The No. 4 Chevrolet will begin the 400-mile event from 29th.
There are two practice sessions on Saturday, the first beginning at 9:00 a.m. and Happy Hour starting shortly after noon.