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RAPID REACTION: Crew Chief Suspensions Pay Dividends for Teams

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When NASCAR implemented a new rules package for Michigan and Kentucky, it peaked everyone’s interest, and Sunday brought us an exciting race.

The smaller spoiler worked for Joey Logano, who won his first race of the season, and brought demise to several drivers’ days after a wild FireKeepers Casino 400.

More Substitute Crew Chief Success

Last week we saw Kurt Busch win at Pocono with a replacement crew chief, Johnny Klausmeier, who took the reigns from suspended Tony Gibson. This week saw even more substitute crew chief success.

It may not have been a win but, Kyle Larson and interim crew chief Phil Surgen, who was filling in for Chad Johnston, came home with a solid third place. Larson started the day seventh and kept the No.42 inside the top five for most of the day.

Big Names, Big Problems

If you were in the top 12 in the driver standings and not named Joey Logano, there’s a chance you had a bad day.

Martin Truex Jr. was the first to have problems as he spun out on Lap 46 for the first caution of the day. At the time, Truex had led several laps and was on course to retake the lead following the first round of pit stops. Despite not hitting anything, the damage was done, and Truex salvaged a 12th-place finish.

Then there was Kyle Busch, who unloaded at Michigan with a streak of three straight finishes outside the top 30. Unfortunately for Busch, that trend continued this weekend when his engine expired on Lap 54, ending his day immediately, and he finished last.

Shortly following Busch problems, NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s day ended abruptly. Contact from rookie Chris Buescher sent Earnhardt Jr. into AJ Allmendinger and slammed the No.88 hard into the outside wall. The damage was unfixable and forced the to team to settle for 39th.

Just over 100 laps after Earnhardt’s incident, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, suffered right rear damage after contact with Trevor Bayne. Luckily for Johnson, the damage was fixable, and he finished the day 16th.

Then, just as it seemed like all the cautions were done for the day, Denny Hamlin had an issue. With 10 laps to go, Hamlin’s No.11 blew a left rear tire and spun, sliding into the inside wall. Hamlin didn’t return to the track, and finished 33rd.

Keep Smoking

Since his return to the seat, Tony Stewart hasn’t had the season he wanted. The two-time Sprint Cup Series Champion entered the weekend needing a good week to keep his Chase hopes alive.

Ask and you shall receive.

Stewart started the day third and hung tough all day. The 45-year-old stayed in the top 10 all day and ended the day seventh.

The top 10 moves Stewart up to 35th in the driver standings, just 45 points outside of 30th.

Chasing Chase

Another week, another impressive performance by Chase Elliott.

The rookie started the day 10th, and continued to increase his position throughout the race. By Lap 117, Elliott made his way up to give eventual winner Logano a lot of competition.

Elliott led 35 laps, and ended the day with his career best finish of second.

Mitchell Breuer, is a 22-year-old Minnesota native who is currently attending Winona State University to obtain a degree in Mass Communications-Journalism. In addition to POPULAR SPEED, Mitchell is currently the sports editor at WSU's student paper, The Winonan.