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Kyle Busch's fourth win books Chase place

It was a stroke of luck for Jimmie Johnson, who had already taken to pit road for his last fuel-and-tyres visit of the day. That meant he could go ahead and complete the stop, while everyone else had to wait for pit road to reopen: once they did, Johnson duly took the lead for the restart ahead of Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon.

All the drivers sensed this was the pivotal moment of the race: Johnson made the most of the clean air and leapt away in front leaving a three-wide battle for second. Busch initially won out over Gordon only to then trip over Kenseth, dropping him briefly down to fourth until he powered his way back past them both through the high line of turn 4. But by this time, Johnson was off in the distance and Kyle admitted he thought that was that as far as fighting for the race win went.

"I didn't think there was any way I was going to run him back down," he said. "I think I restarted fourth, and Jimmie was gone, like in three laps. I was like, 'holy cow!'"

But once free of competition for second, Kyle was soon hunting down Johnson for the lead and it was clear that this was going to be a two-horse race unless there was a late caution to close the cars up again. Kyle had the stronger car and took the lead again through turn 1 on lap 188, but Johnson stayed all over the back of the #18 and was determined to hold on for a last-lap lunge.

As the end of the race came within sight, it was Kyle's brother Kurt who was hanging on for dear life further down the field in 11th, getting sideways on lap 191 and only just saving the car from the full-scale wreck. His luck ran out six laps later and he put the #22 into the wall on lap 197, forcing the fifth and final caution of the day - and inadvertently wiping out the safety margin his brother Kyle had been eking out in the lead. The #18 would now have to survive a green-white-chequered restart, just days after losing at Watkins Glen in a similar situation.

But this time there was no problem for Kyle: he blasted away from Johnson without a problem, took the white flag and then had an easy lap to the chequered as well, albeit only by 0.568s over the #48. "Man, you know it's so awesome to finally win here at Michigan and get Toyota in victory lane here at Michigan!," said Busch. "It feels good being so close to Detroit and everything," he said, referring to the headquarters of rival engine manufacturers Ford and Chevrolet.

"Today I could run the bottom and I could run the top, I just had to move around and figure things out," he said. "It's great to be here in victory lane in Michigan and we clinched our Chase berth ... It's awesome, that's what we wanted."

Johnson's second place means he once again missed out on a win at Michigan - the five-time Cup champion has never won here. But any disappointment he might have felt over that will have been tempered by his rising to second place in the Cup points, ten points back from Busch at the top but 29pts clear of Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards behind him.

"Chad made a great call to get me to pit road before that caution came out," Johnson said, referring to his longtime crew chief Chad Knaus. "It gave us the shot at the win, but once I was up front in the clean air the balance of the car was a bit too loose ... and I knew [Kyle] was going to come at some point and he showed up."

Brad Keselowski finished in the top three for the third race in succession , despite struggling in the second part of the race with a car that was absurdly loose. "Wish I had something more for the #48 and #18 there at the end," he said, but admitted that he had nothing in reserve for them unless they made a mistake and took each other out. "I couldn't do anything on my own merit. Still a fun race, proud of the effort. The last few weeks are more than I could ever ask for."




Related Pictures

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The start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 21 in Brooklyn, Mich. [Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 Pure Michigan Ford, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Kroger Ford, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 21 in Brooklyn, Mich. [Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images]
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 21 in Brooklyn, Mich. [Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 21 in Brooklyn, Mich. [Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, passes Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, for the lead during the last few laps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 21 in Brooklyn, Mich. [Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images]
The #24 Axalta Chevrolet crew celebrates in pit lane after driver Jeff Godron`s victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, salutes the fans after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars into the pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag for the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Resers Toyota, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads the field out of the pits during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, qualifies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualified 2nd fastest Saturday, July 26, 2014 for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Next to him on the front row will be pole winner Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, was the fastest qualifier Saturday, July 26, 2014 to capture the pole position for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents, the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cars race after a restart lead by Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet (L), Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Cartwheel by Target Chevrolet (R) during the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

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