Lap-by-lap, the Heluva Good 400

“WE FINISHED!!,” exclaims Denny Hamlin as he stands next to his car in Victory Lane to wrap up the Heluva Good 400.

It came down to five laps after a late caution flag brought out by Dale Earnhardt Jr. after he blew a right side tire with eight laps to go.

[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”268″][/media-credit]Hamlin came out of the pits with the lead in front of Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Paul Menard and Kyle Busch.
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Kenseth spun his tires on the restart and the next four laps Kenseth would be the only challenger for Hamlin.

Kenseth made several attempts to pass for the lead, but to no avail as Hamlin held him off to take home his second spring race in a row at Michigan International Speedway.

Hamlin would lead eight laps for the event after it looked like Roush Racing could possibly take home the win with Greg Biffle leading 68 laps and teammates Carl Edwards running 30 in front with Matt Kenseth leading 16.

Kyle Busch ran the second most laps with 60.

Pole setter Kurt Busch would struggle during his race to finish 11th after fighting to hold his position in the top ten with 50 to go.


NOW – Our lap-by -lap coverage

HELLO RACE FANS!! As part of our lap by lap coverage, we will be following A.J. Allmendinger, Travis Kvapil, David Stremme, David Ragan and Casey Mears.

GREEN FLAG as Kurt Busch and David Reutimann bring the field flying into turn one on this multi groove track. Lap 2 Tony Stewart powering his way into 3rd from his start of 6th and looking for a pass on Reutimann. Lap 4 Denny Hamlin is on his way from 10th to 7th.

Lap 5 Kurt Busch rubs 1.2 seconds in front of the second place battle between Stewart and Reutimann. Stewart takes the position as they enter turn three.

Lap 7 one of our spotlight drivers, Ragan is in the top 15 from his start of 20th (13th).

YELLOW FLAG lap 8 as Jimmie Johnson solo spins out of turn two as he runs between Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose in 17th. The leaders head to pit road. Kurt Busch leads them in and will lead them back out followed by Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Stewart and Paul Menard.

GREEN FLAG lap 12 and it looked like someone missed a shift and we see four wide after the start finish between Kurt Busch , Biffle, Ryan Newman and Vickers. Lap 13 Biffle takes the lead. Lap 14 drivers in turns three and four looking for the best line. Johnson is down a lap and has big time issues with the front end setup with the front roll bar.

Lap 18 the nice thing about Michigan is the fact that you can run anywhere on the track and be in the fight. Lap 19 Biffle leads by 1.1 seconds. Lap 20 Allmendinger closes in on the top 10 behind Hamlin and a few car lengths from his 26th place start. Lap 21 Allmendinger takes over 10th.

Lap 22 Ragan runs 21st from his start of 20th (down 1), Kvapil 32nd from 28th (down 4), Mears 34th from 39th (Up 5) and Stremme 38th from 32nd (Down 6th).

YELLOW FLAG lap 27 for debris in turn 4 after Robby Gordon blew a tire out. Johnson is a lucky dog. Everyone heads to pit road once again. Biffle is the first back followed by Vickers, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Paul Menard.

GREEN FLAG lap 29 as Biffle brings the field up to speed. Lap 32 Kyle Busch working on Vickers and takes 3rd. Kenseth takes 4th from Vickers as well. Lap 35 Dale Earnhardt Jr. moves up in the field from his start of 15th to 11th. Earnhardt Jr. is almost three wide next to Stewart and Harvick to take 10th from Stewart.

Lap 38 Biffle is 1.3 seconds in front of Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch. Lap 40 Kyle Busch started 24th and is now 4th. Newman started 13th runs 5th. Lap 41 Earnhardt Jr. is up to 8th, passing Kevin Harvick. Kenseth passes Kyle Busch to take 4th. Carl Edwards started his day 23rd where is behind Kyle Busch 5th and Earnhardt Jr. closing in from 6th.

Lap 47 Earnhardt Jr. on the inside of Edwards for 5th but gives it back coming out of turn 2. Matt Kenseth takes second from Kurt Busch.

Lap 50 your top twenty drivers are Biffle, Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Edwards, Earnhardt Jr., Vickers, Newman, Harvick, Allmendinger, Menard, Kasey Kahne, Stewart, Reutimann, Mark Martin, Hamlin, Ragan, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Jeff Burton.

Lap 54 Kenseth closes in on Biffle for the lead. Lap 56 Kenseth for the lead while Harvick and Newman battle for 8th. Lap 57 Biffle is back in the lead. We hear that Biffle had trash on the front of his car and needed Kenseth to help get it off, plus a bonus point for Kenseth. Pit stops to come soon.

Lap 58 Allmendinger runs 9th, Ragan is up to 17th, Kvapil is 34th, Mears is 38th in the garage with Stremme. Lap 61 pit stops begin as Brad Keselowski is in and out. Lap 62 a busy pit road as we see 15 drivers in for work and fuel.

Lap 64 stops for the leaders are complete and we have a three way battle for the lead between Biffle, Kenseth and Kyle Busch. Lap 66 Kyle Busch on the inside if Kenseth for 2nd. Lap 67 Kyle Busch takes a look to the inside of Biffle for the lead, but not yet.

Lap 71 we hear that Kenseth’s team did not get all the fuel in the car. Lap 72 Kyle Busch dropped back a few car lengths which allows Kenseth to take the lead. Lap 75 as Ragan takes 17th from Keselowski, our current top ten drivers are Kenseth, Biffle, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Edwards, Allmendinger, Earnhardt Jr., Vickers, Harvick and Kahne.

Lap 80 action between Vickers, Earnhardt Jr. and Harvick for 7th. A note about Johnson, he was the scheduled lucky dog on the last caution, but he pitted to remain the lap down followed by the work that needed to be done on his car and Johnson is currently two laps down.

Lap 84 Kyle Busch working his way to the front again passing Biffle for second.

YELLOW FLAG lap 84 as Keselowski bounces off the wall in turn two. David Gilliland is the lucky dog. Johnson has five other drivers between himself and the lucky dog. The field heads to pit road. TNT misses the entire yellow and pit stop action. Biffle is the first back followed by Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Allmendinger and Vickers. Earnhardt Jr. has a bad stop losing 10 spots to 18th.

GREEN FLAG lap 89 as Kurt Busch and Biffle are side by side. At the exit of turn two Biffle is slideways but holds onto the lead. Lap 90 Kyle Busch closes in on Biffle for the lead. Lap 93 Allmendinger runs his best position for today of 4th. Ragan is 24th, Kvapil is 34th down a lap with Stremme and Mears in the garage.

Lap 96 Kenseth takes 4th from Allmendinger. Menard and Newman battle for 10th on lap 97.Lap 99 Kyle Busch on the inside of Biffle for the lead. In turn three Busch has it followed up with grabbing the position.

Lap 100 (Halfway Home) Busch is followed by the rest of the top twenty of Biffle, Kurt Busch, Kenseth, Allmendinger, Harvick, Edwards, Martin, Kahne, Menard, Newman, Reutimann, Truex Jr., Vickers, Hamlin, Burton, Stewart, Ambrose, Earnhardt Jr. and McMurray.

So far we have seen 15 lead changes among 9 leaders. We have seen three cautions for 11 laps. Lap 110 Jeff Gordon takes 20th from Clint Bowyer. Lap 112 pit stops coming soon. Kurt Busch challenges Allmendinger for 4th.

Lap 115 Martin passes Kahne to take 8th. Lap 116 Truex Jr. challenges Hamlin for 12th.

Pit Stops begin on lap 117 with McMurray and Reutimann. Lap 118 Juan Pablo Montoya, Ragan and Allmendinger are in. Ambrose is in. Lap 121 Biffle and Kenseth are in along with Truex Jr., Vickers and Burton. Lap 122 Kyle Busch is in with Edwards, Martin, Kurt Busch and others. Truex Jr. is busted for speeding on pit road.

Lap 125 as almost all the stops are done, Keselowski almost overshoots his stall and just about hits the wall. He has to back up to have the work done on his car. After stops on lap 126 your top ten led by Kyle Busch is Biffle, Kenseth, Allmendinger, Edwards, Kurt Busch, Kahne, Martin, Harvick and Hamlin.

Lap 128 as we see Allmendinger in 4th, Ragan is currently 18th, Kvapil is 32nd and two laps down with Mears 38th, Stremme 41st in the garage. Johnson remains two laps down in 35th. On the lap down list we see Gilliland, Keselowski, and Truex Jr. a lap down. Two laps down are Kvapil, Mike Bliss, Dave Blaney, Johnson and Andy Lally.

In the garage we see Robby Gordon, Mears, J.J. Yeley, Joe Nemechek, Stremme, Scott Riggs and Michael McDowell.

Lap 141 we have 26 drivers on the lead lap as Montoya drops a lap down. Bobby Labonte, Landon Cassill, Regan Smith and Trevor Bayne would be the next on the list. Lap 143 Earnhardt Jr. has slipped down to 21st.

Lap 148 as Kyle Busch leads Kenseth by over a half second, 3rd place Biffle runs 5.1 seconds, 4th place Kahne 10.3 seconds back, 5th place Edwards 11.1 seconds, 6th place Allmendinger 12.7 back, 7th place Martin 14.4 back, 8th place Harvick 15.6 back, 9th place Hamlin 17.2 back and 10th place Kurt Busch 18.2 seconds back.

Lap 150 (50 to go) the rest of the top twenty are Vickers, Menard, Stewart, Newman, Ambrose, Bowyer, Ragan, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and Burton. Burton is 34 seconds back.

Lap 152 pit stops begin with Allmendinger and Ambrose. Lap 154 Kenseth is the first leader in followed by Biffle. Trouble for Kahne as he may be out of fuel coasting into pit road. Kahne cannot start the engine and he has been in his stall for over one minute so far. He starts the car after a minute and four seconds and his day is most likely done.

Vickers stalls his car but the engine refires.

YELLOW FLAG lap 158 as Montoya is clobbered by Lally in turn four as Lally mis-judges the closure and Montoya eats the infield grass then backwards onto pit road. Lally’s car is smashed on the front. The rest of the field that did not pit head in.

Kenseth is the first out followed by Kyle Busch, Edwards, Hamlin and Harvick. Earnhardt Jr. is having work done on the car after slapping the outside wall during the last green flag run.

Lap 160 (40 to go) Kenseth is the leader followed by Kyle Busch, Edwards, Hamlin, Harvick, Menard, Newman, Stewart, Kurt Busch and Bowyer.

GREEN FLAG lap 163 (37 to go) as Edwards, Hamlin, Kenseth and Menard try for the lead heading into turn one. Burton has issues and drops to the apron. To allow the field to pass him. Edwards is the new leader.

35 to go Stewart is on the inside Newman and Kyle Busch fighting for 5th. Newman has fifth, Kyle Bush then Stewart. 34 to go into 33 to go Hamlin closes in on Edwards with Kenseth in tow.

30 to go Edwards over Hamlin by a half second. 3rd place Kenseth is one second back. Earnhardt Jr. is back in the action moving into 12th after a repair on pit road. Kyle Busch on the inside of Newman for 6th.

25 to go and the top ten drivers are Edwards, Hamlin, Kenseth, Menard, Stewart, Kyle Busch, Newman, Jeff Gordon, Biffle and Kurt Busch.

22 to go Allmendinger runs 17th, Ragan 20th, Kvapil 33rd. The others of Stremme and Mears are in the garage.

20 to go as Edwards runs 1.3 seconds in front of Hamlin. We are hearing “Save Fuel,” from the lead teams to make it to the end. It sounds like most of the teams are two laps short.

17 to go a sleeper of Jeff Gordon has moved into 7th passing Newman. Earnhardt Jr. is passed by Bowyer for 12th after he tapped the outside turn two wall trying to avoid Martin coming up.

15 to go Edwards continues his lead over Hamlin by 1.4 seconds.

13 to go second place Hamlin is 1.6 seconds back followed by Kenseth 3.8 seconds, Stewart 4.7 seconds and 5th place Menard 5.7 seconds back.

10 to go Edwards, Hamlin, Kenseth, Stewart and Menard.

YELLOW FLAG with ten to go as Earnhardt Jr. slaps the outside turn one wall after a flat tire. Allmendinger is the lucky dog in 21st. The field heads into pit road. Hamlin is out first followed by Kenseth, Edwards, Stewart and Menard.

GREEN FLAG with five to go as Hamlin and Kenseth lead us back up to speed. Kenseth spins the tires. Kyle Busch shoots between Menard and Edwards to take third. By turn three Busch tries for second on Kenseth where it does not happen.

4 to go as Hamlin leads. Menard on the inside of Edwards as they battle for forth.

3 to go Smith blows a tire, no yellow.

2 to go as Kenseth closes in on Hamlin in turn two. Hamlin pulls away in turn three.

WHITE FLAG for Hamlin and Kenseth on his outside in turns one and two. Heading into turn three Kenseth on the low side but he does not stick which allows the…

CHECKERED FLAG for Hamlin leading 8 laps and hearing that the team was 3 gallons short on fuel.

The rest of the top ten were Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Menard, Edwards, Newman, Stewart, Bowyer, Martin and Vickers.

Allmendinger finished his race 13th, Ragan 20th on the lead lap. Kvapil finished one lap down in 31st. Mears was scored 38th in the garage 148 laps down along with Stremme 160 down in the garage as well.

The race lasted for a little more than two and a half hours. We saw 22 lead changes among 12 leaders. 5 cautions came out for 18 laps.

The biggest mover on the track was a tie between Kyle Busch (24th to 3rd) and Clint Bowyer (27th to 8th).

The tough luck award would go to David Reutimann from starting 2nd to park it in the garage to finish 35th.

Unofficial Race Results
Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400, Michigan International Speedway
Pos. No. Driver Make Points
1 10 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 47
2 3 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 43
3 24 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 42
4 9 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 41
5 23 99 Carl Edwards Ford 40
6 13 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 39
7 6 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 37
8 27 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 36
9 19 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet 35
10 4 83 Brian Vickers Toyota 34
11 1 22 Kurt Busch Dodge 34
12 12 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 0
13 26 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford 31
14 22 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 31
15 7 16 Greg Biffle Ford 31
16 17 21 Trevor Bayne Ford 0
17 31 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 27
18 30 20 Joey Logano Toyota 26
19 14 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 25
20 20 6 David Ragan Ford 24
21 15 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 23
22 16 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 23
23 18 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 21
24 33 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 20
25 41 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge 19
26 11 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 18
27 21 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 17
28 8 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota 16
29 40 34 David Gilliland Ford 15
30 25 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet 14
31 28 38 Travis Kvapil Ford 0
32 35 32 Mike Bliss Ford 0
33 5 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet 11
34 42 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 10
35 2 0 David Reutimann Toyota 9
36 36 71 Andy Lally * Ford 8
37 37 7 Robby Gordon Dodge 7
38 39 13 Casey Mears Toyota 7
39 34 46 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 5
40 29 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 0
41 32 30 David Stremme Chevrolet 3
42 43 181 Scott Riggs Chevrolet 0
43 38 66 Michael McDowell Toyota 1

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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