Kurt Busch won his second NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season, a rain-shortened event at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday that was called 62 laps short of its scheduled distance.
With his fuel running low, Larson had to make a pit stop, ceding the lead to Busch only a few laps before heavy rain arrived and ended the Quicken Loans 400.
It was Busch’s second victory of the year, clinching a spot in the Chase for the Championship. Larson remained winless in 55 career starts after trying to stay out on the track long enough to reach the rainstorm in first place.
“We could see weather coming there off of (Turn) 4 and (were) just praying that it would get here in time for me to stay out and be in the lead when the rain did hit,” Larson said. “I applaud my guys for trying. We are pretty deep in points so we have to take risks like that to make the Chase.”
The fourth weather-related red flag of the day came after Lap 138 of a scheduled 200. Busch led at the time and was declared the winner after a downpour. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second, followed by Martin Truex.
Larson gave up the lead on Lap 133.
Busch won in a backup car after an accident in practice Friday.
“It was a fantastic group effort,” he said. “To be able to pull the backup car out and to have it as prepared as it was and then to have the extra work that went into it, all the crew members that (crew chief) Tony Gibson leads rolled up their sleeves, jumped right on it, and we made it a race-winning backup car.”
Busch led for only six laps, but they were the last six.
“I don’t know how Tony got the rain to come out, but he did that,” team co-owner owner Gene Haas said. “That’s all it takes to win a race is you just need about 4,000 or 5,000 things to line up, and you’re there.”
Points leader Kevin Harvick led 63 laps, but a tire problem knocked him well back. He finished 29th, only his second time out of the top 10 all year.
Kurt Busch was already in good shape to make the Chase, having won at Richmond in April. Not bad considering he began the year on a three-race suspension for an alleged domestic assault.
“Any time you win a second race, it really gives you that stamp on (it), you’re in the Chase,” he said. “Now let’s work through these summer months to continue to make the team better.”
Winner’s average speed: 116.688 mph
Time of race: 2 hours, 21 minutes, 55 seconds
Margin of victory: Under caution
Caution flags: Five for 38 laps
Lead changes: 17 among 11 drivers
Lap leaders: Edwards 1; Kahne 2; Edwards 3-41; Wise 42; Harvick 43-82; Kenseth 83-84; Keselowski 85; Larson 86-87; Logano 88-94; Patrick 95-96; Harvick 97-119; Earnhardt Jr. 120; Kenseth 121; Keselowski 122-126; Edwards 127; Larson 128-132; Ku.Busch 133-138
Sprint Cup points
Through 15 of 36 races. The top 16 after 26 races, based on wins then points, make the 10-race Chase for the Championship.
Driver Wins PointsBack
Kevin Harvick 2 576—
Martin Truex 1 561 18
Joey Logano 1 520 56
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1 508 68
Jimmie Johnson 4 506 70
Brad Keselowski 1 480 96
Jamie McMurray 0 464 112
Matt Kenseth 1 456 120
Kasey Kahne 0 447 129
Jeff Gordon 0 434 142