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NASCAR Michigan: What we learned during the Firekeepers Casi

edit:casino time:2018-06-13

What a disjointed weekend …

During an event where there was just as much raining as racing, two races ended short of their scheduled distance and produced several head-scratching moments. One of those head-scratching moments occurred on pit road and actually won Clint Bowyer the Firekeepers Casino 400 on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz made the decision to give his driver two tires instead of four during the second stage break, ultimately giving him the lead over everyone else that took four. But it’s a decision he scratched his head over and nearly talked himself out of in the heat of the moment.

“Buga” saw the rain cell emerging from the west -- and the writing on the wall.

"I was thinking, man, probably a lot of these leaders are going to do two to keep the track position," Bugarewicz said. "They got to be seeing it, too.

"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 and I was about 70 percent sure. 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."

Bugarewicz was equal parts brilliant and lucky because Kevin Harvick was all over the rear bumper of his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate and was probably a lap away from taking the top spot away from Bowyer en route to what would have been his sixth victory this season if the rain had held off just a little longer.

But give Bowyer credit.mHe had to fight hard to hold Harvick off on the decisive restart despite the two-tire disadvantage. Still, Bowyer knows what’s up.

"You lucky ass," Bowyer told his crew chief during the winner’s press conference after the race.

Even with an element of good fortune, Sunday was still an overall impressive effort for SHR, which became the first team since Roush-Fenway Racing in September 2008 to post a 1-2-3 finish with Bowyer, Harvick and Kurt Busch.

The remainder of what we learned can be viewed below.

Kyle Busch

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Race Control Blunders

The hazy conditions also created some head-scratching moments from race control.

In historical NASCAR fashion, race control seemingly chose entertainment over integrity at the end of the first stage. NASCAR chose not to open pit road under caution with three laps remaining in the segment in order to force a green flag finish to the stage.

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