Perfect timing: Kurt Busch wins rain-shortened Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan

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After four red flag race stoppages due to rain, Kurt Busch ultimately was in the right place at the right time, being awarded a rain-shortened victory in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Busch, who took over the lead on Lap 133, remained in the lead five laps later when the race was stopped for the fourth and final time after 138 laps of the scheduled 200-lap event on the two-mile superspeedway. It is Busch’s second victory of the season (won at Richmond in April), his third-career win at MIS and also with Stewart-Haas Racing, his 27th career Sprint Cup win.

Only 100 laps were run under green flag conditions. Realizing that the latest rain episode might be lengthy, not to mention track drying, NASCAR officials called it a race just after 6 pm ET.

“Tony Gibson led these guys through a back-up car, the pit crew was there giving it its best,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to know what we went through, paced ourselves and found the lead towards the latter part of the race and then the rain came in.”

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano.

MORE: Final results, stats of Quicken Loans 400

MORE: Sprint Cup points standings after Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan

How Kurt Busch won the race: Simple, veteran crew chief Tony Gibson was Busch’s ace in the hole. Gibson kept an eye on the approaching weather, called for a pit stop early enough that would allow Busch to get to the front of the pack, and then the team hung on for the win. It was a textbook example of how to win a rain-shortened race.

Who else had a good race: Had the race-deciding rain not fallen, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a good chance of catching Kurt Busch. But Mother Nature intervened and Earnhardt finished second. … Even though he didn’t lead a lap, Pocono winner Martin Truex Jr. continued his strong season’s run, finishing third. Truex becomes the first racer to score 14 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races since Richard Petty did so to start the 1969 season, 46 years ago. … Trevor Bayne finished a season-best ninth. His previous best finish in his first full season in the Sprint Cup Series was 18th at both Martinsville and Texas. It was also only the fourth top-10 in Bayne’s 72 career Sprint Cup starts.

Who had a bad race: Kevin Harvick, who had tied a NASCAR record with 10 top-2 finishes in his first 14 races last week at Pocono and led the most laps in Sunday’s race (63), suffered perhaps the hardest luck of the event. He was forced to pit for a second time when a valve stem failed, leading to a flat tire. As a result, Harvick fell from a 4.6-second lead to 36th position, two laps down. He rallied slightly to finish 29th, but took a huge hit in the points standings. He still leads the series, but went from a 39-point edge to just 15 points over 2nd-ranked Martin Truex Jr. … Kyle Busch lost control and wrecked on Lap 53, suffering heavy damage to the right front of his car. While he was able to return to the race after repairs were made, he still finished 43rd, a big blow to his hopes of making the Chase (has to win a race and finish the first 26 races in 30th place or higher). For what it’s worth, Busch remains 39th in the standings, but is now 173 points out of 30th place (Justin Allgaier).

Notables: How can you not feel bad for Kyle Larson? He was in the lead from Laps 128-132, but was forced to pit for fuel and tires. Had he only had enough gas and rubber for six more laps, we likely would be talking about Larson earning his first career Sprint Cup race. … How rare was the four red flag race stoppages due to rain? NASCAR statisticians are still trying to find another race that has been stopped that many times in the sport’s history.

Quote of the day: “It’s a downpour. It was raining when we came to the green. They can see the freakin’ sky, you know what I mean?” – Kevin Harvick, shortly after Kyle Busch wrecked on Lap 53 in a solo crash, one lap after the restart on Lap 52.

What’s next: The Sprit Cup Series enjoys next weekend off. There will be an Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, June 20, and a Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway on Friday, June 19. The Cup schedule resumes in two weeks at Sonoma Raceway, north of San Francisco.

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NASCAR weekend schedule for Circuit of the Americas


NASCAR’s three major series return to the road this weekend with races scheduled Saturday and Sunday at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Xfinity and Craftsman Truck Series races are Saturday, and the Cup Series is scheduled to race Sunday afternoon.

MORE: Drivers expect North Wilkesboro surface to be challenging

Joey Logano, winner of last Sunday’s Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, has led laps in both COTA races and will be among the favorites Sunday.

As the first road course of the year, COTA will begin a new approach by NASCAR to stage racing on road circuits. There will no longer be a caution to end stages, but points will be awarded for the finish order. In another change, the “choose” rule will be in effect on road courses.

A look at the weekend schedule:

Circuit of the Americas (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Friday: Thunderstorms in the morning, sun later in the day. High of 86. 80% chance of rain.

Saturday: Sunny. High of 83.

Sunday: Partly cloudy. Temperature of 81 degrees with a 15% chance of rain at the start of the race.

Friday, March 24

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 11:30 a.m. .- 6:30 p.m. — Truck Series
  • 1:30 – 8:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2:05 – 2:55 p.m. — Cup practice (No live broadcast; tape-delayed version airing at 8 p.m. on FS1)
  • 4:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck practice (No live broadcast)
  • 5 – 6 p.m. — Truck qualifying (No live broadcast; tape-delayed version airing at 9 p.m. on FS1)
  • 6:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 7 – 8 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)

Saturday, March 25

Garage open

  • 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. — Truck Series
  • 2 – 10:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup qualifying (FS1)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (42 laps, 143 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 5 p.m. — Xfinity race (46 laps, 156 miles; FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, March 26

Garage open

  • 12:30 – 10 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 3:30 p.m. — Cup race (68 laps, 231.88 miles; Fox, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)




North Wilkesboro’s worn surface will prove challenging to drivers


NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Three Cup drivers got their first chance to experience North Wilkesboro Speedway’s worn racing surface Tuesday and said tires will play a key role in the NASCAR All-Star Race there on May 21.

Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick took part in a Goodyear tire test Tuesday. That test was to continue Wednesday.

The verdict was unanimous about how important tire wear will be.

“This place has got a lot of character to it,” Reddick said. “Not a lot of grip and it’s pretty unforgiving. It’s a really fun place.”

Dillon said: “If you use up your tire too early, you’re going to really be in trouble. You really got to try to make those four tires live.”

Buescher said: “The surface here was so worn out already that we expect to be all over the place. The speeds are fairly slow just because of the amount of grip here. It’s hard to get wide open until you’re straight.”

Reddick noted the drop in speed over a short run during Tuesday’s test. That will mean a lot of off-throttle time.

“I think we were seeing a second-and-a-half falloff or so over even 50 laps and that was kind of surprising for me we didn’t have more falloff,” he said. “But, one little miscue, misstep into Turn 1 or Turn 3, you lose a second sliding up out of the groove and losing control of your car.”

“That’s with no traffic. Maybe with more traffic and everything, the falloff will be more, but certainly we’re out of control from I’d say Lap 10 on. You have to really take care of your car. … It’s really hard 30-40 laps into a run to even get wide open.”

Chris Buescher runs laps during a Goodyear tire test at North Wilkesboro Speedway, while Austin Dillon is on pit road. (Photo: Dustin Long)

One thing that stood out to Dillon was how the facility looks.

While the .625-mile racing surface remains the same since Cup last raced there in 1996, most everything else has changed.

In some cases, it is fresh red paint applied to structures but other work has been more extensive, including repaving the infield and pit road, adding lights for night racing, adding SAFER barriers, the construction of new suites in Turn 4 and new stands along the backstretch.

“It’s cool to see how much they’ve done to the track, the suites, the stands that they’re putting in,” Dillon said. “To me, the work that is going in here, we’re not just coming for one race. We’re coming here for a while. I’m excited about that.”

Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup race at COTA


Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, has attracted an entry list that includes talent beyond that of the tour regulars.

Jordan Taylor, who is substituting in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet for injured Chase Elliott, brings a resume that includes 31 IMSA class wins, two 24 Hours of Daytona overall wins and two IMSA wins at COTA.

MORE: NBC Driver Rankings: Christopher Bell is No. 1

Jenson Button won the Formula One championship in 2009 and has five F1 starts at COTA. He is scheduled to be a driver for the NASCAR entry in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kimi Raikkonen, entered by Trackhouse Racing as part of its Project 91 program, won the 2007 F1 championship and has eight F1 starts at the Austin track.

They will draw attention at COTA this weekend, along with these other drivers to watch:


Brad Keselowski

  • Points position: 5th
  • Best seasonal finish: 2nd (Atlanta I)
  • Past at COTA: 19th and 14th in two career starts

Keselowski hasn’t been a star in road course racing, but his 2023 season has started well, and he figures to be in the mix at the front Sunday. He led the white-flag lap at Atlanta last Sunday before Joey Logano passed him for the win.

AJ Allmendinger

  • Points position: 17th
  • Best seasonal finish: 6th (Daytona 500)
  • Past at COTA: 5th and 33rd in two starts

The Dinger is a road course expert. Last year at COTA, he was involved in tight racing on the final lap with Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman before Chastain emerged with the victory.

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best seasonal finish: 3rd (Auto Club)
  • Past at COTA: Two straight top fours, including a win

Chastain lifted Trackhouse Racing’s profile by scoring his — and the team’s — first Cup victory at COTA last season. He’s not shy about participating in the last-lap bumping and thumping that often mark road course races.


Chris Buescher

  • Points position: 13th
  • Best seasonal finish: 4th (Daytona 500)
  • Past at COTA: 13th and 21st in two starts

Buescher has never led a lap at COTA and is coming off a 35th-place finish at Atlanta after being swept up in a Lap 190 crash. Although he has shown the power to run near the front this year, he has four consecutive finishes of 13th or worse.

Alex Bowman

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best seasonal finish: 3rd (Las Vegas I)
  • Past at COTA: Two straight top 10s

Bowman’s four-race run of consistent excellence (finishes of fifth, eighth, third and ninth) ended at Atlanta as he came home 14th and failed to lead a lap. At COTA, he is one of only four drivers with top-10 finishes in both races.

William Byron

  • Points position: 28th
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I)
  • Past at COTA: 11th and 12th in two starts

Involvement in an accident at Atlanta ended Byron’s two-race winning streak. He’ll be looking to lead a lap at COTA for the first time.



Three Reaume Brothers Racing team members suspended by NASCAR


Three members of the Reaume Brothers Racing No. 33 Craftsman Truck Series team have been suspended for three races by NASCAR after a piece of tungsten ballast came off their truck during last Saturday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The suspensions were announced Tuesday.

Crew chief Gregory Rayl and crew members Matthew Crossman and Travis Armstrong were suspended because of the safety violation. Mason Massey is the team’s driver.

MORE: Xfinity driver Josh Williams suspended for one race

In a tweet following the announcement of the penalty, the team said it will not file an appeal. “The ballast became dislodged only after the left side ballast container had significant contact with the racing surface,” according to the statement. “We would like to be clear that there was no negligence on the part of RBR personnel.”

NASCAR also announced Tuesday that Truck Series owner/driver Cory Roper, who had been suspended indefinitely for violating the substance abuse policy, has been reinstated.

The Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series are scheduled to race this weekend at Circuit of the Americas.