Johnson leads halfway at Michigan; Kyle Busch, Earnhardt have issues

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Jimmie Johnson is the halfway leader, but Joey Logano has dominated the first half of Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Johnson took the lead at the midpoint through a green-flag pit stop cycle. But Logano’s No. 22 Ford has has been the class of the field, leading 77 of the first 100 laps.

Paul Menard is second, followed by Ty Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Matt Kenseth.

Two major incidents in the first third of the race stood out.

Misfortune struck Kyle Busch for the fourth consecutive event when his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry caught fire on the backstretch of Lap 54, apparently after the engine blew up, spewing oil that ignited. Busch managed to douse the fire with onboard fire extinguishers, and his car limped to the garage.

“I had a 30-lap warning it was coming,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It was shaking real bad and going south for a while and building its own heat.”

Busch came into Sunday’s race having finished 30th at Dover, 33rd at Charlotte and 31st at Pocono. He likely will finish 40th today.

“Unfortunately, the last four races have been really, really bad,” he said. “It’s good that we started off the season as good as we did. We had a lot of top-fives and three wins it got us a good start and good foundation, but we have to get this luck turned around and get going in the right direction and get us back to where we need to be finishing-wise.”

Including his 38th at Bristol Motor Speedway earlier this season, the defending Sprint Cup champion has finished 30th or worse in five of the first 15 races of 2016.

On Lap 62, coming off Turn 2 and three-wide, Chris Buescher made contact with the left-rear fender of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car, sending it up into the outside wall and collecting AJ Allmendinger’s car in the process.

“(Buescher) just drove into the left-rear quarter panel, man, I don’t know,” Earnhardt told FS1. “On restarts and all that, you’ve got a responsibility to take care of everybody out there even when you’re three-wide. I’m disappointed in that.

“We had a pretty good car and we were just taking our time there. The car was great. It’s a shame.”

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