Kenseth led foce a race high 86 laps, taking
the lead for the last time on lap 166. Jeff Gordon tried, you’ve got to give him credit for that, but the Chevrolet Monte Carlo just couldn’t get near the #17 De Walt Tools Ford Fusion. With 10 laps to run, Kenseth had nearly a two-second lead.
“We were really tight (understeering, losing front wheel grip) on that last run (between pitstops), and I just tried to back off the corner and not use up the tyres,” said Kenseth. “In Vegas I ran the front tyres off and I really did in Bristol, too, and in Chicago we were too tight.
“So, I really just decided to go slow and be in the running, so I saved what I could to the end. Thankfully, we had just enough.”
Gordon, though forced to settle for second place, rated the race a great fight. “We made some great adjustments there on that last pitstop. We were up their battling with (Carl) Edwards having a lot of fun but we just were out of synch.
“Unfortunately, the caution came at the wrong time which has been happening to us a lot lately but what a great rebound by this team.”
Current champion Tony Stewart brought his Chevy home third, 30 places better than he started.
Stewart said working at the car set-up and making adjustments, and a good
early laps pit strategy helped him rise through the field.
Kasey Kahne (Dodge Charger) and Mark Martin (Ford) completed the top five.
“I’m real happy,” said Kahne. “It’s nice (I’ll be able to) watch TV this week and
not watch myself screw up on the final lap.”
The race shook up the list of drivers in with a chance of making the 10-driver cut for the title-deciding Chase for the Nextel Cup.
Points leader Jimmie Johnson had his Chevy’s right-front tyre blow on lap three, and hit the wall. A yellow flag caution period got him back on the lead lap and he finished 13th.
“These guys just never stop,” Johnson said of his crew’s efforts. “It is really amazing.”
But there was disappointment too.
“I thought we could get a top five once we got everything back on track. Then there at the end we got way too loose (oversteering) and I lost a lot of spots. “
Pole-winner Jeff Burton pitted on lap 18, and utlimately retired with engine trouble. “Yeah, broken engine,” he said laconically. “We’ve had great reliability with our engines and today we didn’t. We just have to bring it to the next three races (before the final 10 are sorted) and just do a good job. I’m not down at all. We will overcome this and we’ll be fine. “
Kevin Harvick spun his Chevy on lap 24, didn’t hit anything and finished 11th.
Kyle Busch blew a right front tyre and hit the wall, forcing him to take the Chevy to the garage for repairs.
“Typical Michigan luck, I guess,” he said. “We can lead from the beginning of the race, we can have a great race car, a fast race car for that. I must have had a right front tyre going soft or something like that because it went off into Turn 3 and fenced itself the first time, unexpectedly, for no reason and then a couple of laps later it finally let go and blew out and killed the fence.”
Johnson continues to lead the series, by 58 points from Kenseth. Harvick is third, ahead of Martin Stewart and Jeff Gordon.