On a day when everyone was talking about how to conserve fuel and baby a car to the end of the race, the Carfax 400 did not focus on that aspect. Sure, many drivers were conserving fuel on some late cautions, but the final stops of the day ensured everyone could make it to the end.
Instead, it came down to track position on the final restart. Teams that were near the front either stayed there or got shuffled back.
At a track like Michigan, the double-file restarts have proven to be very tough on the drivers because there are so many lines to choose from.
The driver who got it figured out the most was Kevin Harvick. He started the day in the ESPN Pit Studio talking to Alan Bestwick, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty.
He said that Michigan was one of his worst tracks on the circuit, and that it was a track he felt that he could win at.
At the end of 400 miles, he did just that.
Harvick was the one in victory lane, and also secured his place in the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup. The win was huge as it gives him 10 more bonus points heading into the last 10 races. That still leaves him behind both Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson, but he is a lot closer.
As for our Creatures, it was a relatively strong day, but it could have been a lot better. The heavy favorite going in was Jeff Gordon, despite a 36th-place qualifying effort.
The No. 24 car was simply spectacular for the entire race, running right through the field to the front. A couple bad pit stops set them back, but Gordon battled right back.
However, on a restart he had some contact with Jeff Burton, and it caused him to flatten his left front tire. After that, his car was dismal.
The other favorite, Carl Edwards, also had a struggle for most of the race. However, when the laps began to wind down, the No. 99 car came to the front.
It was a strong run for a few others, and an unfortunate run for some more. No bonus points awarded this week as no one picked the winner.
Here is how the writers ended their afternoon following the action at Michigan:
Kara Martin (3200) Jeff Gordon finished 27th (2)
Billy Fellin (3148) Jeff Gordon finished 27th (3)
Christopher Leone (3129) Carl Edwards finished third (3)
Sal Sigala Jr. (3053) Jeff Gordon finished 27th (2)
Dustin Parks (3033) Carl Edwards finished third (2)
James Broomhead (3015) Jimmie Johnson finished 12th (2)
Rob Tiongson (2930) Jeff Gordon finished 27th (0)
Misan Akuya (2928) Tony Stewart finished sixth (1)
Kelly Crandall (2869) Kurt Busch finished 40th (2)
Patti Rodisch (2635) Jeff Gordon finished 27th (0)
Alan Wade (1429) Carl Edwards finished third (1)
Kyle Brandt (732) Carl Edwards finished third (1)
NEXT RACE: With the standings extremely tight from positions one through six, a 185-point separation to be exact, it's appropriate that the next stop on the circuit is all about tight racing.
Quite possibly the most sought-after ticket in NASCAR, the Sprint Cup Series has a short week as this coming Saturday night, we go under the lights at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
With over 165,000 people expected to surround the track, the 0.533-mile concrete track will play host to the Irwin Tools Night Race.
Creatures, it is back to normal for the upcoming race. Please e-mail your picks for Saturday night's race to Kelly Crandall by Thursday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m. ET.
*A big thank you to Kelly Crandall for asking me to help with the Creature vs. Creature picks and results this week. With her covering the Truck Series in Darlington, I was honored to be of assistance on this column.
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