BROOKLYN, Mich – For most of the middle of the first stage through the final few laps of the second stage of Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 at the Michigan International Speedway, it looked like the “Big 3” would dominate the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch would dominate the top five and would at times run 1-2-3.
But, for one of the members, they had a rough day in the grand scheme of things.
Truex, had to settle for a 15th place finish in his No. 78 Toyota for his worst finish since the June race on this very same race track. In June, Truex finished 18th. On Sunday, he was looking like a legitimate contender after he rebounded from an early race crash, but a missed strategy cost him the race though.
Truex, was chasing his car all weekend as he cited before the race that the new sets of Goodyear tires for this year on the 2-mile, D-shaped oval threw them for a loop. He and Cole Pearn sat down overnight and thought of some adjustments that could help. While in theory they could have, they lost a few spots on the drop of the green flag and was involved in an incident with William Byron on Lap 15.
Truex, would make his ground back up though just 10 laps later when they didn’t take tires on the Lap 25 competition caution. By the end of the first stage, he was fifth. Then, early on in the second stage, he jumped up to the top three and by Lap 85, he was leading.
One problem though, he needed to pit one more time before everyone else as he was off sequence. Instead, they tried to stretch their fuel. He’d slow down dramatically over the final few laps of the stage but it didn’t work. He ran out of fuel with two laps to go in stage 2 which forced him to pit when the pits were closed.
He’d be penalized for that and while on pit road, they were hit with an uncontrolled tire penalty as well forcing them to the rear of the field for the final stage restart and a lap down. He’d get the free pass when Ty Dillon crashed on Lap 132 but he was too far back from then on to make up any ground.
His former teammate Erik Jones had a rough day too. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver spun twice in the first 83 laps and had to settle for a 13th place result.
Daniel Suarez saw his streak of consecutive top five finishes end with a 11th place finish in his No. 19 Toyota. He started last but had a fast car. He quickly moved through the field but tried to stretch his fuel in stage 2 too but like Truex, it didn’t work. That put him a lap down and ruined his day.
Denny Hamlin started on the pole and led the first 13 laps of the day but that was about it for him. He came home eighth.
Kyle Busch grabbed a third place run, the best for Toyota’s but he was a non factor all day too in comparison to Harvick.
What looked like a good weekend for Toyota ended like the rest of the races have at Michigan.