The Race to the Chase was the focus once again this week. Denny Hamlin came into this race clinging to the final wild card spot. He didn't help his cause today but he still clings to a precarious advantage.
Roush-Fenway Racing ruled qualifying with Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth sweeping the front row in their Fords.
Ryan Newman's Chevrolet and Denny Hamlin's Toyota made up row number two while Mark Martin rounded out the top five in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy.
Drop Of The Green
Greg Biffle exercised his option to start on the outside of row one. Biffle got the run he was loookin for on the outside and lead the field into turn one. Kenseth completed lap one in second with my pick to win the 2011 Pure Michigan 400 Denny Hamlin hot on his bumper in third.
This one stayed green for the first 28 laps and Greg Biffle was able to stretch his lead out to nearly two seconds. Biffle won the race off pit road and continued to be the man to beat for the rest of the early going.
Just past the halfway point Denny Hamlin slapped the outside wall. Hamlin came into the race holding onto the final Chase wild card spot as the driver highest in points positions 11th - 20th with one win.
Hamlin finished 35th today which didn't cost him the final Chase birth but it definitely didn't help his cause. Hamlin fell two spots to fourteenth which leaves the door open for a number of drivers. If Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, A.J. Allmendinger or Mark Martin can win one of these last three races then Denny Hamlin's 2011 Chase spot would be in serious danger.
While Hamlin is putting his Chase birth in jeopardy Kyle Busch clinched his Chase starting spot today. Even if Kyle doesn't show up for the next three races he would still be guaranteed a 2011 Chase starting spot.
Chasing The Checkers
As the cautions fell the 2011 Pure Michigan 400 was left with a 28 lap run to the finish. Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth lead Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch to the green.
Johnson put a huge lead on the pack after just one lap as the clean air on his nose gave him the advantage and he was pulling away. There was great racing for second with Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth swapping second back and forth. This was some fun racing but Kyle Busch eventually prevailed and set his sights on Johnson for the win.
Kyle was closing the gap and finally got to him with about 15 laps to go. Kyle made his car stick on the bottom and got past Johnson with 12 laps to go.
This race wasn't done with surprises though and Kurt Busch hit the wall late in the race which set up a green-white-checkers overtime finish.
Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Mark Martin lead them to the green for the final time.
Kyle picked the outside lane for the restart and cleared him in turn two for the lead. Kyle Busch pulled away to a big lead down the backstretch for the final time and this one left no doubt as Kyle cruised to a comfortable win.
- Kyle Busch
- Jimmie Johnson
- Brad Keselowski
- Mark Martin
- Ryan Newman
- Jeff Gordon
- Kasey Kahne
- Clint Bowyer
- Tony Stewart
- Matt Kenseth
Kyle Busch took over sole posession of the lead with his big win. Carl Edwards' troubles cost him a few spots as he fell from a tie for the lead all the way back to fourth.
No new drivers cracked the top ten.
The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings: