BROOKLYN, Mich.—Matt Kenseth had little to say about how NASCAR’s rules package affected his race at Michigan International Speedway yesterday.
“I didn’t see much of the race, which was totally fine with me,” he remarked.
“We were up front the whole time.”
Kenseth started in the lead, stayed there for most of the race, and finished with his third Sprint Cup victory of the season—beating Kevin Harvick by 1.7 seconds.
It was the second race under NASCAR’s high-drag aerodynamic package, which also was in place at Indianapolis last month in an effort to improve passing.
At Michigan, Kenseth won while leading 146 of 200 laps so whatever excitement there was occurred further back in the pack.
“Cars could really, at the end of the straightaway, gain on others, two or three car lengths,” said Jason Ratcliff, Kenseth’s crew chief.
“But they just couldn’t do much once they got there. . . .
“On the restarts, it got exciting . . . I’d say eighth place back, it was fun to watch,” Ratcliff added.
“Like Matt said, I’m glad he was watching it in the rear-view mirror.”
Kenseth led for 73 percent of the laps yesterday—the highest percentage by anyone in a Cup race this year.
He’d led for only 147 laps all season before dominating this 400-mile race in his No. 20 Toyota.
It was his 34th career victory and Joe Gibbs Racing now has won five of the last six Cup races—two by Kenseth and three by Kyle Busch.
“You really need to enjoy it because about 10 races back, we were struggling, trying to get there,” Gibbs noted.
“You just hope now that we’ll be able to hold some momentum here and head into the ‘Chase’ but it’s very hard to do,” he added.
“In pro sports, it can come and go in a week.”
JGR came into the race with the top three qualifiers in Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and Carl Edwards.
Hamlin finished fifth while Edwards was sixth.
Martin Truex Jr. finished behind Harvick in third.
Austin Dillon, who was sent to the back at the beginning of the race because of an engine change, managed a fourth-place showing.
Kyle Busch, meanwhile, took another step toward wrapping up a spot in the “Chase” with an 11th-place run in his back-up car.