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Matt Kenseth earns 2nd win in last three starts, dominates Pure Michigan 400

kenseth wins mich 2 2015 getty

Matt Kenseth continued to ride a wave of recent momentum, earning his second win in the last three races, capturing Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Kenseth dominated en route to his third win of the season, adding to his triumph at Pocono two weeks ago and at Bristol early in the season.

Kenseth dominated, leading 146 of 200 laps for his third career win at the 2-mile track.

Kenseth has recorded two wins, four top fives and six top-10 finishes in the last six races.

Kevin Harvick finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and Denny Hamlin.

MORE: Results, earnings and stats for the Sprint Cup’s Pure Michigan 400

MORE: Kyle Busch builds gap; Clint Bowyer’s margin shrinks in Sprint Cup points

HOW KENSETH WON: Kenseth took the lead for the final time when David Ragan pitted on Lap 176. Then, on the final restart on Lap 188, Kenseth got past Austin Dillon going into Turn 1 and sailed on to win. Kenseth had a car that was the class of the field “The guys gave us a rocket today,’' he said. “They’ve given us rockets the last couple months.”

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD DAY: Kyle Busch remained in the Top 30 in the Sprint Cup points standings to be Chase eligible despite starting at the back of the field due to going to a backup car following an incident in Saturday’s final practice. … Austin Dillon led 19 laps and finished a career-best fourth, only his second career top-five finish in his Sprint Cup career. … Kevin Harvick ran out of fuel on Lap 115 but rallied to finish second. … Ryan Newman suffered minor damage in Clint Bowyer’s wreck on Lap 127, but recovered to finish eighth. … After disappointing finishes at Pocono and Watkins Glen, Martin Truex Jr. bounced back to finish third Sunday.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: On Lap 116, even though he had the last spot on pit road (and first coming off the racetrack), Jimmie Johnson missed his pit stall and had to back up, costing him a number of positions and a potential chance at victory. Johnson spun on Lap 183 and suffered heavy damage to his front splitter when he ran into the infield grass. Johnson finished 39th. … On Lap 127, Clint Bowyer spun and hit both the outside and inside retaining walls, causing significant damage to his car. He finished 41st.

NOTABLE: Joe Gibbs Racing remains the hottest team in the series. Three of its four drivers finished in the top six (Kenseth won, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards were fifth and sixth), while Kyle Busch finished 11th. … On Lap 130, Tony Stewart got loose and spun while attempting to get back on the lead lap. Stewart finished 21st. Other than Harvick, it was not a great day for the rest of the Stewart-Haas Racing lineup: Kurt Busch, who won at MIS in June, finished 20th. Danica Patrick was 25th. ... With Clint Bowyer having a bad day, Aric Almirola closed the gap on Bowyer in the standings. Bowyer is 16th on the Chase grid with three races remaining, but Almirola is 23 points behind.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s early to talk favorites. There’s still so much racing to do. You have 16 teams that are capable of winning races, as well as championships. It’s one week at a time.” – Matt Kenseth, who earned his second victory in the last three races Sunday at Michigan, on if it’s time to start picking favorites for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

WHAT’S NEXT: NASCAR returns to Bristol for the Irwin Tools Night Race on Saturday evening, Aug. 22. Green flag is 7:30 pm ET.

Follow @JerryBonkowski