Denny Hamlin dominated for the second week in a row and claimed his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season at Michigan.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver continued to display his best form ever at NASCAR's top level, leading 126 out of the race's 200 laps and keeping Richard Petty Motorsports' Kasey Kahne at bay in the final 13 laps, following a late caution for debris on the track.
Hamlin seemed to be in a league of his own since he jumped to the front for the first time on lap 52, overtaking early race leader Kurt Busch. The Penske driver reclaimed the lead when Hamlin had trouble getting back up to speed after a pit stop on lap 92, but Busch would not stay there for long.
On lap 113, Hamlin passed him again into Turn 3 and from then on he only surrendered the lead twice while pitting for fuel and tires, getting back up front when stops cycled. Kahne initially tried to make the battle for victory a tight one but Hamlin pulled just enough of a margin to safely cross the line ahead of the field for the second week in a row.
Hamlin's win gives him another 10-point bonus, which will count toward his Chase seeding once the season enters into the deciding last 10 races. He currently leads the series in number of wins with two more than reigning champion Jimmie Johnson.
"It's a great accomplishment, obviously, to win on so many different racetracks," said Hamlin, following his 13th career win. "And to be able to unload and know that you're going to be competitive for a race win week in and week out, gives you a lot of confidence. For the first time, really, in my career I feel that we're at that place."
Kahne finished more than a second adrift from Hamlin's Toyota, surviving some close calls on engine temperature. His car seemed to be overheating every time he drove into the pits, but luckily for him the race had only four cautions. Kahne, like all other Ford drivers, was running the new FR9 engine this weekend.
"For our first time racing it, it was a nice improvement," said Kahne about the new powerplant. "I think that bodes well for all the Ford teams. I think we will all run better now. I feel like we didn't lose 10 spots in the pits, I didn't make mistakes, we had good feedback and the adjustments on the car were good and the car stayed together. It is something for us to build on."
Busch finished third, never challenging for the lead in the second half of the race but still scoring good points that boosted him up one place to fourth in the drivers' standings.
"It seems like we lost a little bit of speed as the race went on, lost a little grip when the track rubbered in," said the Penske Racing driver. "We made good adjustments and had solid pit stops. That's what this game is all about. This is tough. There isn't any other racing in the world where, if you're off a little bit, people are going to go by you."
Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon took fourth running solid all race long, while Stewart-Haas' Tony Stewart rounded out the top five, his result allowing him to get back in the top 12 in the standings.
Johnson was sixth and never a contender for victory at one of five tracks he has yet to win at, followed by his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was seventh in one of his best races for the past couple of months.
Points leader Kevin Harvick struggled to a 19th-place finish, right ahead of JGR's Kyle Busch, who started from the back of the field and made good progress until he hit the wall out of Turn 4. Hamlin's win allowed him to close on both of them in the championship.
Pos Driver Car Laps
1. Denny Hamlin Toyota 200
2. Kasey Kahne Ford 200
3. Kurt Busch Dodge 200
4. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 200
5. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 200
6. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 200
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 200
8. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 200
9. Greg Biffle Ford 200
10. Joey Logano Toyota 200
11. AJ Allmendinger Ford 200
12. Carl Edwards Ford 200
13. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 200
14. Matt Kenseth Ford 200
15. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 200
16. Mark Martin Chevrolet 200
17. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 200
18. David Reutimann Toyota 200
19. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 200
20. Kyle Busch Toyota 200
21. Elliott Sadler Ford 200
22. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 200
23. Regan Smith Chevrolet 199
24. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 199
25. Paul Menard Ford 199
26. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 199
27. Brad Keselowski Dodge 199
28. Scott Speed Toyota 199
29. Bill Elliott Ford 199
30. David Stremme Ford 199
31. Travis Kvapil Ford 199
32. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 199
33. Robby Gordon Toyota 199
34. David Ragan Ford 198
35. David Gilliland Ford 197
36. Casey Mears Toyota 149
37. Joe Nemechek Toyota 66
38. Landon Cassill Chevrolet 51
39. JJ Yeley Dodge 47
40. Kevin Conway Ford 38
41. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 31
42. Todd Bodine Toyota 20
43. Max Papis Toyota 8