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Michigan Update: Kurt Busch hunting for critical win

Aug 18, 2013, 2:46 PM EDT

Kurt Busch AP

Trying to solidify his chances of earning a Chase berth, Kurt Busch is putting together a strong afternoon and leads the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway at the halfway point.

Busch took the lead for the first time at Lap 32 as he and Dale Earnhardt Jr. took advantage of lapped traffic momentarily holding up pole sitter Joey Logano. His first stop of the day at Lap 42 was a slow one and cost him several spots when the cycle played out, but his Furniture Row Racing crew made up for it by netting him several positions on stop No. 2 under caution at Lap 72.

Shortly after the restart at Lap 76, Busch dispatched Denny Hamlin (who had stayed out under the yellow) to take the lead and at Lap 100 of 200, Busch had opened up a two-second lead on Brad Keselowski, another winless driver that’s battling to make the Chase. Logano has stayed steady and was running third at halfway, followed by Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick.

A potential threat for the win went away in the first half of the event, when Jimmie Johnson suffered engine problems and was knocked out of the race. Johnson had to start from the rear of the field after crashing his primary car in final practice, but had managed to move into the Top 10 in his backup car before his motor went south.

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