Weather, gamble on tires helps Clint Bowyer win in Michigan

Weather, gamble on tires helps Clint Bowyer win in Michigan

Weather, gamble on two tires helps Bowyer win at Michigan

June 11th, 2018 by Associated Press in Sports - Nascar

Stewart-Haas Racing driver Clint Bowyer is doused after winning Sunday's rain-shortened NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway. It was his second win this year and the 10th of his career, but his first at the track.

Photo by Carlos Osorio

Clint Bowyer makes a pit stop during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, June 10, 2018, in Brooklyn, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Clint Bowyer makes a pit stop during the...

Photo by Carlos Osorio

BROOKLYN, Mich. — After 120 laps and two stages of Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, the event was considered official. Any driver in the lead might conceivably win if rain intervened.

Clint Bowyer had finished second to teammate Kevin Harvick in the second stage, and both came to pit road. Bowyer took only two tires — and later explained he believed that decision by crew chief Mike Bugarewicz ultimately won him the race.

"It was a gamble on his part," Bowyer said. "It was uncharacteristic for him. That's part of growing and blossoming as a crew chief and being one of the elite."

After that quick pit stop, Bowyer had outside position on Harvick on the ensuing restart and was able to take the lead. Rain halted the race not long after that, giving Bowyer his second win of the year.

Harvick finished second, and pole-position winner Kurt Busch finished third, completing a sweep of the top three spots for Stewart-Haas Racing. Kyle Busch was fourth, the lone Toyota near the top in a race dominated by Ford. Four more Fords — Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney — rounded out the top eight.

Blaney won the first stage and Harvick took the second. On the pit stop moments later, Bugarewicz made the decision to go with only two tires, figuring other leaders would do the same because bad weather could arrive shortly and track position was important.

"When we were coming on pit road, I was 100 percent sure two tires was the right call. We got about three-quarters of the way down pit road, I was about 70 percent sure," Bugarewicz said. "When he slid into the pit box, I was about 50 percent sure. By then, we were leaving. It was too late.

"Clint asked, 'Are we the only one with two?' 'Yeah, we're the only one with two.'"

Bowyer didn't have to race much longer. He had the lead when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went into the wall, bringing out a caution. The rain put a stop to the race after 133 of the planned 200 laps on the two-mile track.

"As the leader, you don't want to be that guy that's calling in every single second saying, 'It's pouring! It's a monsoon!'" Bowyer said. "That doesn't hold any weight, but it really was. I was just hoping somebody else was saying the same thing."

The race was delayed by rain at the start. Three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers — Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones — had to start at the back because of inspection failures related to the splitter. Busch made it back into the top five, Hamlin finished 12th and Jones was 15th.

Harvick led a race-high 49 laps and secured his 11th top-five finish in 15 races this season. Bowyer led only eight laps on the way to his 10th career victory and first at MIS.

"I've been on both sides of this," said Harvick, who was denied another chance to overtake Bowyer by the weather. "If you're going to have racing luck work against you, you want it to at least stay on your own team."

Kyle Busch kept the season points lead, by 75 over Harvick.

Vettel victorious

MONTREAL — Sebastian Vettel led from the pole to the checkered flag — and then some — on his way to a long-awaited Ferrari victory at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The four-time Formula One season champion sped on after the checkered flag was waved one lap too early, finishing his wire-to-wire victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to gain his third win of the year and the lead in the points standings.

"I was a bit confused. I told them I don't think the race is over yet," said Vettel, who confirmed on the counter in his car and with his team that he was only completing his 69th of the scheduled 70 laps.

Canadian model Winnie Harlow blamed race officials for telling her the wrong time to wave the flag. F1 regulations say that if a checkered flag is waved too early, the race is over as of the last completed lap, making the results official as through 68 laps. F1 spokesman Matteo Bonciani said there was confusion getting the message from a course official to Harlow on the platform.

Vettel picked up the 50th win of his F1 career, his second in Montreal and the first for Ferrari at the track since Michael Schumacher won three in a row from 2002 to '04.

Mercedes was second with Valtteri Bottas, about six seconds back after never really challenging for the win. Max Verstappen was third, and the other Red Bull car, driven by Daniel Ricciardo, was fourth.

In fifth was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who fell from the top of the standings and now trails Vettel by a point.

Dixon on a roll

FORT WORTH, Texas — Scott Dixon led the last 119 laps of Saturday night's IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway, winning for the second consecutive weekend and quickly breaking a tie for the third-most career wins in series history.

Dixon earned his 43rd victory a week after winning the first of two IndyCar races in Detroit to match Michael Andretti. Dixon trails only A.J. Foyt's 67 wins and Mario Andretti's 52.

After taking the lead on the 1.5-mile Texas oval in the 248-lap race, he never gave it up. It was Dixon's third win at the track.

Before separate late incidents involving Will Power and Ed Carpenter, Dixon was close to lapping the field.

Power held the points lead coming into the race, but Dixon took that over with his 4.3-second win over Simon Pagenaud. Alexander Rossi finished third, with James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounding out the top five.


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