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Stewart-Haas Racing earns first 1-2-3 finish in team history

BROOKLYN, Mich. — “It’s a huge day in Detroit.”

That’s what Kurt Busch said following Sunday’s rain-shortened Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, where he finished third to complete a Stewart-Haas Racing sweep of the podium — the first 1-2-3 finish in the team’s nine-year history.

Clint Bowyer led the organization’s effort, putting the No. 14 Ford in Victory Lane for the second time this season, followed by Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Ford.

RELATED: Bowyer edges Harvick | Who hollers louder: Clint or Cash? | Race results

Bowyer had luck on his side in the Irish Hills, passing Harvick for the lead following the final restart on Lap 125. Five laps later, the caution flag flew for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s crash on Lap 130. That’s when the skies opened up and the red flag came out on Lap 133. Soon after cars came down pit road, NASCAR officials called the race, and Bowyer’s win was official.

Putting the No. 14 in Victory Lane again was one thing for Bowyer, but it was his teammates behind him that made the moment even better.

“Well, I think that’s the coolest thing about it,” Bowyer said. “You’re up there looking in the mirror, even when I was running second, I said to myself, ‘Gosh, this is a moment.’

“When you’re on top, you’re lined up, it’s 1‑2‑3, Kevin and Kurt behind you, it’s just awesome,” Bowyer added. “Then to be able to get there and give each other hugs, be happy — truly, genuinely happy for one another — that’s what it takes. That’s what it takes to push you to another level. Working together, the communication, pushing each other each week.”

Bowyer’s crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz, took a chance on the final round of pit stops, changing two tires to move Bowyer up to second. It was a gamble that paid off.

“I mean, not enough can be said about, No. 1, SHR,” Bugarewicz said. “Obviously one-through-three finish, all four cars at one point during the race in the top 10; obviously the qualifying effort speaks for itself. Man, everybody back at the shop, every person who touches these cars has done such a tremendous job.”

MORE: No. 14’s big tire gamble

This isn’t the first time Harvick and Bowyer have completed a podium sweep for an organization, which celebrated its seventh win in 15 races this season. In March 2008 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Harvick finished second while Bowyer came home third for Richard Childress Racing.

But the feat is so rare that the last time an organization earned the top-three finishing positions was September 2008 when Roush Fenway Racing swept the podium at Dover International Speedway.

Harvick, who led 49 laps of the 133-lap race and posted a Stage 2 victory, gave kudos to the Roush-Yates powerplants under SHR’s hoods, with the engine program placing a particular emphasis on performance at Michigan.

“I think it’s a real honor to drive the Roush-Yates engines when you get to a place like this because you can be a lot easier on your car,” Harvick said. “Obviously they’re doing a great job with their cars, it’s a combination of things. But Doug Yates and those guys, they like to make big horsepower on the big end of the motor, put a lot of effort into this particular race weekend.

“Yeah, I can echo those comments and also say it’s a team effort to not have any weaknesses,” Busch added. “We also come here to Michigan for bragging rights. … (And) to see the two cars in front of me at the end, the 4 and the 14, that’s a big day for Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s very special to finish 1‑2‑3.”