Last Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR race was a strange one as multiple teams seemed to dominate the race at various times. Roger Penske’s duo of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano dominated qualifying and started on the front row.
Keselowski dominated Stage 1, leading 56 of the 60 laps. He greatly benefited from clean air in the first half of the race but pit strategy put him back in the pack in the dirty air, foiling his chance for a victory at his home track.
The Toyotas of Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch were back to their dominating ways in the second half of the race. The two drivers have been battling it out for supremacy in the past three or four races with Truex seemingly on his way for another victory.
Kyle Larson had been leading the point standings a month ago when Truex slipped ahead of him. Larson had several pitfalls lately but still managed to hold on to his second-place standing. Larson was not much of a threat at Michigan until the race went into overtime. Restarting fourth in the overtime, Larson perfected a four-wide pass on Truex to score the win.
Leading only the final two laps, Larson scored a third consecutive win at Michigan. “I have no idea,” Larson said of the final restart move. “I was running a few options through my head. That was one of them. I can’t believe that happened. We were struggling all day. We persevered and had a great restart at the end.”
Finishing second, Truex maintained his points lead over Larson by a whopping 129 points. Winning a 15th stage, Truex finished one spot ahead of teammate Eric Jones, who tied a career-best Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series result in third. Truex is the king of stage racing and by garnering a playoff point for each stage win plus the five playoff points accumulated for each race victory. His 35 playoff points far exceeds the 18 points of his closest competitor, Larson.
If Truex maintains his points lead at the end of the regular season, he would add another 15 bonus points to his total. These playoff points will carry over each playoff race so unless Truex has a disastrous playoff run, he will just about be assured of being in the championship race in Homestead, Florida.
Only three regular season races are left before the playoffs and the racing is getting pretty hectic as drivers who are not locked in vie for a win. Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth still hold down the final three positions for the playoffs but if another driver outside the top 16 were to grab a victory in one of the final regular-season races, one of those three would be eliminated from playoff contention.