Michigan winners and losers

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WINNERS

Joey LoganoHe led 80.3% of the Cup race on the way to his second victory of the season. Nice way to go into a weekend off.

Kurt Busch His runner-up finish was his fourth top five of the season. He had six top fives all of last year.

Tyler Reddick He won for the third time in the last five Xfinity races. One of the races he didn’t win, he was passed on the last lap, so he could have four wins in the last five races. Also, car owner Richard Childress says he plans to run Reddick in another Cup race or two later this season.

Bubba Wallace and Corey LaJoieAfter tossing and punting a football on pit road during a rain delay Sunday, they began throwing the ball into the stands with fans. Wallace and LaJoie worked their way down the frontstretch and were later joined by Daniel Hemric. Rain delays are not fun but those drivers gave fans something to cheer about.

LOSERS

Stewart-Haas Racing Still waiting on that first win of the season after winning 12 times last year. Yes, the team had two top 10s with Daniel Suarez fourth and Kevin Harvick seventh but this team is built to win, not be satisfied with top 10s.

Erik JonesHe was 14th in points last month. Now he’s 18th after going 40th, 3rd and 31st in his last three races. Rough stretch for the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver who doesn’t have a Cup victory this season.

Austin DillonWhile he did score a stage victory, his 26th-place finish marked his third consecutive finish outside the top 25. That’s not enough to climb back into playoff contention.

Jimmie JohnsonContact on two separate occasions on pit road affected his race. He finished 15th. He has finished 14th or worse in four of the last six races. That has him holding what would be the final playoff spot if the season ended today.

What drivers said at Michigan

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Joey Logano — winner: What a great execution day from our race car. Obviously very fast, our pit crew was amazing. T.J. Majors spotted his butt off up there.  The race fans sticking around till Monday.  You guys are the best. We love coming up to Michigan. Nothing like bringing a Ford to Victory Lane in their home turf, Roger Penske cars as well.  This is a big win for us. A day like that, you don’t get those days all the time. The best car, the best team. We executed perfectly all the way through.

Kurt Busch — finished second: That’s more than what I was hoping to see for damage. But I had a blast.  Tightest I ever put my belts at the end of a race.  We got enough stage points today, we said hell with it, we don’t need to get anything but the win.  We got second today. Logano’s car was tough.  I really wanted it to go green at the end with Truex.  I was going to push him straight through the 22.  My best shot at it. What a day for our Camaro.  From Chevy and Monster, thank you, guys.  We’ll get it.  It gives us reason to smile and be happy.  We ran up front, were strong in our manufacturer’s backyard, but got second today.

Martin Truex Jr. — finished third:I felt like before that we were going to finish second no matter what. My mindset there was at least we got a shot at it here.  Rack ’em up, have a green‑white‑checkered and see. I don’t know, my second gear was off a little bit all day on restarts.  I was getting Jonesed. Then (Logano) went like a whole car length before the restart zone.  I don’t know how you get away with that. I thought we were supposed to go in the box. Aside from that, great day for Auto Owners Toyota, everybody back at JGR, TRD.  We had a solid race car. Man, you have to be so patient in this racing, it’s really hard. Early in the race I kept getting runs, going underneath guys, getting them in the corner.  If you can’t clear them, you lose two, three, four spots every time. Everybody did a good job.  We had a fill‑in rear tire changer this weekend.  That’s a lot of pressure to come in.  He’s a young kid, did a good job there.  Great job by everyone. Came up a little bit short, but a solid day for us here.

Daniel Suarez — finished fourth: “The car was pretty strong the entire weekend and then again today. We just struggled for whatever reasons on the long runs in the first half of the race. We were able to make some adjustments and come back and I am proud of my guys. We still have some work to do but we are slowly heading into the right direction.”

Kyle Busch finished fifth: “We just did the best we could with what we had. Our Camry was not great, but we just kept working on it all day. We just kept falling back or doing rounds, doing air pressure, everything we could to get improving on it and make it better. I don’t think we ever really made it faster. It was still kind of slow at the end. We saw (Logano) just drive away from us on that restart there, but overall we came with way better than we should have. Let’s go with that. Way better than we should have. … We had some issues in traffic a lot. The further back we got, the worse we got. There on that green-flag stop, the guys did a phenomenal job to jump us there and got us into the top four to be able to position ourselves for the end. That’s what saved our day. We’ll just go on to the next one.”

Brad Keselowski — finished sixth: We just didn’t put it all together today. We were in a really good spot and had the pit road penalty and lost the lap and it took us til about 70 to go to get it back. It is kind of a miracle that we got back up to sixth to be quite honest. We have to execute the entire weekend and we just didn’t today. We were hoping if we could get a yellow, we were 24th with 60-70 laps to go and we got up to sixth. With a yellow we might have had a shot at winning it. I thought the team did a good job with the strategy all day. The cars when they get behind each other they make the car in front of them faster. If you go back 20-30 years ago that was not the case. You would draft but you wouldn’t make the car in front of you faster. Now it seems like when you get up behind somebody you make them faster, too.”

Kevin Harvick finished seventh: “We had a really fast Busch Lite Ford and just made a lot of mistakes today.”

Ryan Newman — finished eighth: “To have our best lap I guess other than maybe one lap to be our fast lap makes me proud of the guys. The Coca-Cola Ford wasn’t the greatest all day. We had some good restarts toward the end but just struggled with the dirty air. I think everybody did. It is obvious if you know anything about racing. It was a good points day for us. We need to get some stage points. Nevertheless I am proud of the guys.”

Alex Bowman — finished 10th:I feel like it raced better than we expected after practice. Obviously, it being cool and overcast was really the best-case scenario for the package. Hopefully, it worked out to be a good race. It looked like a good race from where I was at. It was really hard to pass without help, but we were still able to come through the field more than you were in practice, so that was good. I wish we would have ended up a little better, but we’ll take it and move on.”

Aric Almirola finished 17th: “We had a better Ford Mustang than 17th place today. We got way behind on the restarts and just couldn’t recover in traffic. I’m proud of our No. 10 Ford team for bringing a fast Ford Mustang to Michigan.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 19th: “Our car was a handful today. It seemed like we were battling back all race from the pit-road penalty to the nose damage that caused us to pit multiple times. With this package, it was really hard to pass. We will go back and regroup and get ready for Sonoma.”

Ty Dillon — finished 22nd: “Our Twisted Tea team fought hard all day. We didn’t start the race off with the balance that we wanted, but (crew chief) Matt (Borland) took a big swing at it in the first stage break to tighten up our Camaro ZL1. We had a significantly better race car after that. I maybe could have used a little bit more front grip, but I was really happy with it overall. From there we just needed track position. We were running in the top 20 to start the final stage. But, these restarts can get wild, and I was shuffled back on the restart with 60 laps or so to go. Our Twisted Tea Camaro ZL1 had good speed, so I was able to drive back up and regain some of those spots. We just really needed more cautions to get back to where we had been. Once the field gets strung out after these restarts, it’s hard to make passes. I’m happy with the team’s effort today, though. They worked hard, had clean stops and made great adjustments all day.”

Daniel Hemric finished 24th: “I was fairly happy with how this No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 took off to start the race. I feel like we had the ability to make some good moves. That made me feel more confident than I needed to be, and I hung myself out a couple of times and lost a little bit of track position. Early in the race, we tried to take fuel only and it just killed our balance. After that, we started chipping away at the positions ahead of us and were able to score some points at the end of Stage 2. We were setting ourselves up to have good track position to start Stage 3, but we had an issue with the air hose getting caught on the splitter and that caused us to lose all of our track position. I was able to drive back inside the top 10, which shows the speed we had. When that last caution came out, we got stuck in the dreaded bottom lane, where nobody wanted to be all day, and got shuffled back on the restart. We salvaged a 12th-place finish. We’ll learn from today and come back here later in the year ready for an even better result.”

Austin Dillon finished 26th: “The No. 3 Chevrolet team showed their tenacity this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. After a few struggles in practice, the team completely changed the setup and gave me one of the fastest Chevrolets I’ve ever had for the race. We showed speed in Stages 1 and 2 and even picked up the Stage 2 win. Shortly after the start of Stage 3, we were running strong in the top 10 when another car got a run and clipped the corner of the No. 3 Chevrolet. We ended up tagging the wall and had damage to the right-rear. We made multiple pit stops to repair damage and ended up finishing 26th. It’s definitely disappointing considering how good our car was today, but that’s part of racing. We will start preparing for the road courses and be ready for Sonoma Raceway in two weeks. I want to thank Dow for honoring veterans and active-duty military members this weekend. It’s always special when those guys can ride with us. I just hate we couldn’t get them a win today.”

Clint Bowyer — finished 35th: “Yeah, frustrating for all of us. It just wasn’t our day. (Erik Jones) got loose, and I tried to move down to not hit him, and then I got loose with (Austin Dillon) underneath of me and got into (Jones) and got wrecked. (On the racing) I mean, it is not racing. I am sorry. I am biting my tongue. I have never been penalized for trying to make a pass in my whole life since I was 4 years old. You get a run on somebody, and you can make a complete pass, and by the time you get to the next corner you have been passed by four people. It is really, really frustrating.”

Michigan Cup results, points report

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Joey Logano held off Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. on a restart in overtime to win Monday night at Michigan International Speedway.

The defending series champion scored his second win of the season and the third of his Cup career (and first since 2016) at the 2-mile oval.

Logano, who started on the pole position, led seven times for a race-high 163 of 203 laps.

The Team Penske driver was cruising to the victory when Erik Jones spun with four laps remaining in the scheduled distance, triggering the final restart.

It had been 11 starts since the last win for Logano, who has 23 career victories.

Click here for the race results from Michigan.

Click here for the race report from Michigan.

In the season standings, 16th-ranked Jimmie Johnson has a three-point lead over Ryan Newman for the final playoff spot.

Erik Jones fell three spots to 18th in the points and out of a provisional spot after finishing 31st.

Click here for the points standings after Michigan.

Bubba Wallace on catch with fans: ‘We had to give the fans a show’

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BROOKLYN, Mich. — It’s often a punt that changes things. Usually, it’s for the worse.

Sunday, a wayward punt led to a half-mile game of catch with a football between Bubba Wallace, Corey LaJoie, Daniel Hemric and fans during Sunday’s rain delay at Michigan International Speedway.

“That was a good time,” Wallace told NBC Sports. “We had to give the fans a show. They pay a lot of money to be here and we couldn’t race today … but we had fun.”

The football was Wallace’s. He had his motorcoach driver retrieve it during the second rain delay Sunday. Engines were fired about 50 minutes after the planned start time of 2 p.m. ET and cars were on track but never got the green before rain sent them back to pit road. The race was postponed to 5 p.m. ET Monday.

Once out of the car, Wallace sent for his football, only fitting on a day that Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia was the grand marshal. Wallace threw the football on pit road with Ryan Blaney. Later, LaJoie joined. Then came that LaJoie punt.

“Corey had a bad punt and it went (over pit wall) on to the (frontstretch) grass,” Wallace said.

That sent Wallace closer to the fans on the frontstretch.

He said he had pondered throwing the football with those fans but thought “I don’t know if my arm can get it over that fence.”

He did and the fans roared. Wallace continued throwing the football over the catchfence to fans in stands. They threw the ball back to him. LaJoie also joined Wallace.

They slowly worked their way down the straigthaway, staying out of the way of Air Titans and other track-drying vehicles as they played with fans. 

“I learned a lot of things,” Wallace said. “Michigan is a big track. I’m out of shape. My arm is going to be sore.”

LaJoie enjoyed the game with fans: “It kept the fans engaged. That was fun. I got to get a little sweat in, get a little workout. Have some fun with my buddies.”

Hemric later joined them, delivering them Coca-Colas and then throwing the football with fans.

“We get to sign and speak to a lot of these fans but never get just to … have fun like that,” Hemric said. 

They continued throwing the football with fans until the race was postponed, going from near the pit exit to well before the pit entrance.

While they would have rather been racing — and the fans would have rather been watching it — the drivers still managed to have some fun on a rainy day.

RPM announces strategic partnership

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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World Wide Technology, in collaboration with Victory Junction, announced a collaboration Friday at Pocono Raceway with Richard Petty Motorsports.

Through a leadership donation by World Wide Technology found and chairman David Steward and his family, Victory Junction will partner with Bubba Wallace‘s team this season.

Wallace will have Victory Junction on his No. 43 car for a select number of Cup races, beginning with this weekend’s event at Pocono Raceway. Wallace said in a Friday press conference at Pocono that the deal is for 16 races.

Victory Junction is an 84-acre camp for children with serious illnesses. The camp opened in 2004 and has delivered more than 50,000 camp experiences to children and their families. World Wide Technology will leverage its strategic partnership with Wallace and Richard Petty Motorsports to donate to Victory Junction the creation and development of an advertising, fundraising and call-to-action campaign: “Feel Your Heart Race.”

MORE: RPM pit crew’s tradition of waving to drivers before races

“I remember when I was a kid, having a lot of fun going out and doing things with my friends, and Victory Junction provides that and gives each child the opportunity to simply be a kid,” Wallace said in a media release. “The camp makes these kids feel as special as they truly are. This is a great opportunity for NASCAR fans to support Victory Junction and make every kid feel special – to feel empowered. Fifteen years is a great accomplishment and I want to do my part to help Victory Junction reach another 15 years.”

Said Steward in a media release: “Investments in diversity are critical for the long-term viability and future competitiveness of WWT. The same applies to the sport of racing. As the only African American NASCAR driver in over 40 years, we have been honored to support Bubba Wallace. With the Victory Junction alliance, we will celebrate and enable kids with diverse challenges and perspectives to reach their fullest abilities.

“Given our family’s long history with Variety the Children’s Charity, BJC Health System and St. Jude’s, it was an easy decision to get involved with Victory Junction. Diversity matters. That is why we support Bubba. That is why we support Victory Junction.”