Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; FireKeepers Casino 400
TRACK: Michigan International Speedway
DRIVER: Kasey Kahne
CAR: No. 95 Chevy Accessories Camaro ZL1
POINTS POSITION: 201 total points for the season; currently 28th in the driver point standings
NASCAR's top series traveled to Michigan International Speedway, which has become the track with the fastest speeds on the circuit since it was repaved, for the season's 15th points race. Weather forecasts for the weekend showed the threat of rain showers in the area, and rain forced officials to cancel final practice on Saturday, as well as shorten Sunday's race at the two-mile track in Brooklyn, Michigan.
Sunday's FireKeepers Casino 400 was slated to begin just after 2:00 p.m. EST, but once pre-race ceremonies had concluded, a rain shower forced officials to hold off the start. Once track drying had been completed, drivers were called back to their vehicles, and the race took the green flag at 4:44 p.m. EST. Kasey Kahne and his No. 95 Chevy Accessories Camaro ZL1 rolled off from 29th, jumped up to 22nd after the opening lap, but then settled in to 26th before a competition caution was called following lap 25.
Crew chief Travis Mack checked in with his driver to see how the No. 95 was handling on the opening race run, and Kahne reported "I feel like I'm waiting on my front" as he and Mack discussed possible adjustments. The Chevy Accessories Camaro ZL1 came in for service on lap 27 for four tires, fuel, wedge, and air pressure adjustments.
The race returned to green to begin lap 20 with Kahne in 25th at the time. The No. 95 machine showed improvement as Kahne drove up to 21st in just two laps before another caution came at lap 37. Mack told his driver that even though it was a short 7-lap run, Kahne had been running his fastest lap times of the day at the time before the caution came. The team stayed out under the yellow, and Kahne restarted in 18th.
Over the next run, Kahne told his team that he was trying to keep the back of his race car into the track as he asked the team not to free up his Chevy on the next stop. Stage 1 came to an end following lap 60 with the Chevy Accessories Camaro ZL1 in 18th. Under the caution, Mack made the call for right-side tires and fuel, and the two-tire strategy paid off as Kahne lined up as the race leader for the restart to begin lap 66. As the laps went on though, the two-tire advantage began to fade as those who had taken four tires began to move forward in the field.
A caution at lap 86 allowed Kahne to update his team in regards to the car's tight-handling at the time. This time, the Chevy Accessories pitted for four tires and fuel before Kahne lined up in 17th for the restart. The top 15 cars ahead of Kahne for the restart had taken two tires, so the team hoped for a longer green-flag run that might let Kahne gain the advantage with his four tires. Unfortunately, being stuck back in the dirty air didn't agree with the No. 95 Chevy for the remainder of Stage 2 as Kahne found himself fade into 24th.
With Stage 2 complete, the race was official as rain once again lingered within striking distance of the speedway. Teams continued to analyze weather radars to determine when exactly the precipitation might arrive as they used the caution to hit pit road for service. Mack opted to try and see if the weather could possibly play out in their favor, and he told Kahne to stay out as the field cycled through stops. The call put Kahne in the top spot as the race leader as the No. 95 team hoped that the heavy rain would arrive while he was out front. Unfortunately, only a light misting continued, and NASCAR gave teams the "one to go" signal for the restart. Mack called Kahne in for four tires and fuel on lap 124 before coming back to green, as he was forced to give up on the strategy call in order to service the car for the restart.
The race returned to green to begin lap 126, and a caution at lap 130 found the race remain under yellow for just three more laps as the rain began to steadily fall. NASCAR called the race following lap 133, 67 laps short of it's scheduled length, due to weather.
Clint Bowyer was scored as Sunday's race winner at Michigan as he and the No. 14 team earned their second victory of the season. Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and Paul Menard rounded out the top-five finishers, while Kahne was scored with a 23rd-place finish for his No. 95 Chevy Accessories Camaro ZL1. Next weekend, the series will take the weekend off to celebrate Father's Day, but will return to action the following weekend at Sonoma Raceway.
Toyota / Save Mart 350
Sonoma Raceway (1.99-mile track)
Sunday, June 24, 2018