BROOKLYN, Mich. — Joey Logano pulled away from the pack to win the FireKeepers Casino 400, becoming the 10th driver to win a NASCAR race this season.
The pole-setter moved past rookie Chase Elliott on lap 153 Sunday and stayed ahead for the 15th Sprint Cup series victory of his career in the 15th race of the year.
Elliott finished a career-best second, followed by Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick at Michigan International Speedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 39th out of 40, is the only winner from 2015 that is winless this year.
NASCAR’s latest aerodynamic package made its debut, hoping to create more competitive racing. The setup included, for the first time in more than a decade, reducing the downforce to 1,500 pounds and shortening the spoiler to 2.5 inches.
“It’s not a whole lot different than the other package,” Earnhardt bristled from the garage after a crash knocked him out of the race. “I think we talk about packages too much.”
Drivers weren’t sure how their cars would handle due to the changes, which will also be implemented next month at Kentucky. That might have led to an uncharacteristically accident-free start on the 2-mile oval about 70 miles west of Detroit.
The first caution didn’t slow down the race until lap 47, the cleanest start at MIS since 2009.
Free-flowing racing didn’t last long. Yellow flags became frequent before a restart with 30-plus laps left.
Logano had a huge lead with 12 laps to go when Denny Hamlin, the Daytona 500 winner, blew out his front right tire to force another restart. Logano pulled away when the racing went green again and coasted to the win.
BUSCH BUMMED: Kyle Busch had finished 30th or worse in four straight races since winning his third race of the year last month at Kansas. Busch completed just 52 laps before blowing his engine, causing him to finish 40th and last.
“The last four races have been really, really bad,” he acknowledged.
FAMILY TIES: The Earnhardt family — Dale Jr. and his nephew, Jeffrey — had a rough day, finishing toward the back of the 40-car race. The right side of Earnhardt Jr.’s car crashed into the wall, ending his race after 61 laps. He bumped against Chris Buescher soon after a restart.
“He must have just lost the nose of his car,” Earnhardt said. “I hate it, but you try to take care of each other out there.”
Jeffrey Earnhardt was forced out on lap 107 when a fire started in the front of his car, which became fully engulfed in flames as he steered it on to pit row. Jeffrey Earnhardt, who had to jump from the car, was evaluated at the infield medical center was released.
UP NEXT: Sonoma Raceway, June 26. Kyle Busch is the defending race winner.