Clint Bowyer held off teammate Kevin Harvick in the final laps of the FireKeepers Casino 400, taking his second win of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Clint Bowyer NASCAR Michigan
Clint Bowyer holds his trophy after winning the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday. (Image: Getty)

The race was shortened by heavy rain, which forced NASCAR to call off the race 133 laps into the scheduled 200-lap race at Michigan International Speedway.

Gutsy Call Puts Bowyer on Top

Bowyers win came largely because of a gamble taken by his crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz. During a caution near the end of the races section stage, Bugarewicz opted to give Bowyer only two fresh tires rather than four.

That was a gutsy call, Bowyer told reporters after the race. Thats uncharacteristic for him pulling no punches, hes not a gambler. He has so many strong suits. Hes such a good engineer, such a smart personhe knows not to gamble. Smart people dont gamble.

Bugarewicz reasoned that with rain coming at any moment, getting Bowyer back on the track first was more important than getting four fresh tires on his car, as there might not be much more racing to do before the storm hit. That move gave Bowyer a big lead coming into the Lap 126 reset.

But there was no guarantee that gamble would pay off. Harvick was coming up fast on four new tires, and in the long run, there was no doubt that he would retake the lead.

Another caution on Lap 129 after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun on Turn 2 saved the day for Bowyer. The rain started almost immediately after, forcing the end of the race after Lap 133.

The rain came just in enough time, Bowyer said. I was trying to hold him of. I was cutting him off and taking his line away pretty bad. If it wasnt for a win, you wouldnt be doing that.

Harvick, Busch Complete Sweep

Harvick may have been inches from winning his sixth race of the season. Coming off the restart, Harvick came within a foot of clearing Bowyer off Turn 2. After that, it was nearly inevitable that it would take some time for him to work his way past Bowyer time that never came, thanks to the rain.

Harvick did pick up a stage win after holding the lead at the end of the second portion of the race. Ryan Blaney took the first stage in a one-lap sprint after a caution.

Kurt Busch finished in third place, ahead of his brother Kyle in fourth, with Paul Menard rounding out the top five. Of the top eight finishers, Kyle Busch was the only one who wasnt driving a Ford.

Stewart-Haas Racing swept the top three positions in the race, the first time a team has pulled off that feat since Roush Fenway managed it in 2008.

The victory makes Bowyer the fourth driver to win multiple races during the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series. He joins Harvick (five wins), Kyle Busch (four), and Martin Truex Jr. (two) in the elite club.

Despite the win, Bowyer remains an outsider for the NASCAR championship, at least according to oddsmakers. William Hill has Bowyer listed at 30/1 odds, far behind favorites like Harvick (9/4), Busch (3/1), and Truex (9/2).

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