Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth led the three-car team with a 15th-place finish in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, a race won by former JGR driver Joey Logano, now with Penske Racing.
Kenseth qualified 12th in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry and worked his way into the top 10 in the early laps of the race. Kenseth and his crew battled handling problems throughout the race, with his final pit stop putting him as far back as 21st with 23 laps to go; four fresh tires allowed him to race back into the top 15.
“Our biggest problem was we were way off on speed,” said Kenseth post-race. “We didn’t handle perfect either, but we had a couple runs that were pretty good and then it seemed like the time we took fuel only and didn’t put any tires on, we just got really loose and got to the back. We never could really overcome that. We came and got tires at the end and worked on it at the end and worked on it a little bit. We just couldn’t make any ground up.”
Denny Hamlin qualified eighth in the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota; like Kenseth, he battled through handling problems at various stages of the race. Hamlin, who was caught on pit road during two separate cautions and was forced to take the wave-around, finished 20th.
Kyle Busch, who started 10th in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, worked his way up to sixth by Lap 50 and stayed in the top 10 for much of the race. On Lap 150, a pit stop under caution for fuel and tires put him back in 23rd for the restart, and just a few laps later, Busch would catch the wall following a single-car spin, bringing Busch back to the pits to repair the damage. The team kept Busch on the lead lap, but within a few laps he would spin again; repairs were made, but the best Busch could do was a 31st-place finish.
Logano was followed across the finish line by Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.
Busch remains in fifth place in points, while Kenseth moved up one spot to sixth; Hamlin remains in 25th.
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