Joey Logano fought off a late-race charge from Kevin Harvick to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan.
Logano started his Penske Ford from pole, and when a fractious opening to the race – with three cautions in 17 laps – settled down, he controlled the race from the front. But his car did not work in traffic, and when he was caught up behind backmarker Johnny Sauter he dropped two spots to Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a flash.
The team kept working on Logano's car during a race blighted by cautions.
Veteran Mark Martin led from the final restart, but he was praying for a caution that never came in his bid to win his first race since 2009 and predictably his Toyota ran dry with three to go. Logano was in the right place to capitalize, and he led home Harvick for an emotional win.
"I noticed he was lifting early, because I was catching him on entry (into the corners)," Logano said of Martin. "He was able to pull me on exit. I wanted to get by him, because I knew the 29 (Harvick) was fast, too…
"It is so cool to be here in Victory Lane. It's crazy racing Mark Martin, my childhood hero. I was able to race against him in Pocono last year for the win. It is so cool racing against a guy like that.”
To Harvick, the race was decided on the final restart. Harvick lined up inside Martin with Logano's No. 22 Ford behind the No. 29 Chevy.
"Just mistimed that last restart there," Harvick said. "I had a great run on the 55 (Martin). Was going to beat him to the line by too much. Wound up having to drag the brakes. From there, it was going to be sketchy if we were going to keep the 22 back there.
"Went for it, backfired a little bit there as we got three-wide and lost some track position. I didn't think we were going to be racing the 55 there for the win (because Martin was short on fuel). I thought if we could just get out of Turn 2 in second we'd be in good shape. Got a little bit greedy and lost a couple spots there. That's what ultimately cost us the win."
It was a race to forget for Jimmie Johnson, whose quest for a first Michigan win continues. After dropping to the back following a switch to the spare brought about by a shunt in practice, he worked his way forward into the top 10, and even led a lap during the first bout of green-flag stops. But it was as he rejoined he noticed something was amiss with his Chevy's engine, and a handful of laps later his race was over with a blown motor.
It was also a disappointing race for his Hendrick teammate Earnhardt, who led the race in its first half and seemed nailed on for a top-10 finish when he suffered a right-front puncture, which pitched him into the wall.
Kyle Busch had been a solid top 10 runner throughout the race too, but was forced off sequence when he felt the handling of his Toyota go off. A chunk was found to be missing from his right-front tire, but that would be the end of his luck, and just a few laps later he spun backward into the wall, ending any hopes of a good finish.
Kurt Busch had a strong car in the middle of the race, but a four-tire change when most took two cost him track position. He made a great final restart, but lacked the pace to challenge for the win, finishing third.
Paul Menard drove a great race to take fourth, while Clint Bowyer recovered from an opening lap spin (due to a flat tire) to take fifth.
Results - 200 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Joey Logano Penske Ford 2h45m59.000s
2. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet +1.019s
3. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet +4.370s
4. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet +5.525s
5. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota +6.499s
6. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford +6.912s
7. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet +8.562s
8. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet +8.771s
9. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford +10.660s
10. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford +12.159s
11. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet +14.055s
12. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford +14.718s
13. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +14.975s
14. Austin Dillon Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +15.474s
15. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford +15.615s
16. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota +16.217s
17. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +17.622s
18. Aric Almirola Petty Ford +18.405s
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford +19.592s
20. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota +20.601s
21. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford +22.617s
22. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet +27.340s
23. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +27.741s
24. David Ragan Front Row Ford +28.125s
25. Casey Mears Germain Ford +28.961s
26. David Stremme Swan Toyota +29.378s
27. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota +1 lap
28. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota +2 laps
29. Timmy Hill FAS Lane Ford +2 laps
30. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet +3 laps
31. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota +3 laps
32. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet +3 laps
33. Brendan Gaughan Phoenix Chevrolet +4 laps
34. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota +8 laps
35. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota +14 laps
36. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet +29 laps
37. David Gilliland Front Row Ford +35 laps*
38. David Reutimann BK Toyota +47 laps
* Not running at checkered flag
Josh Wise Front Row Ford 56 laps
Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 54 laps
Scott Speed Leavine Ford 35 laps
Johnny Sauter Parsons Ford 34 laps
JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet 12 laps