This weekend the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads into one of my favorite racetracks, Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers Casino 400. The wide sweeping corners, long straightaways and lack of restrictor plate make Michigan one of the fastest tracks on the entire schedule. Speeds in excess of 215 mph and with engines roaring at over 9000 rpm’s, it is all about horsepower.
Not to mention the importance this race carries for the manufacturers with this being a home race for both Ford and Chevy, it is truly a measuring stick as to which brand is superior at that point in time. It takes a total team effort from driver, to crew chief, to pit crew, engineers and everyone in between to take the checkered flag at Michigan.
You can’t talk about Michigan and not mention former series champion Kevin Harvick who will be the wheel-man of the Jimmy John’s No. 4 Ford Fusion who has finished in the top 5 at Michigan in seven of his last eight races at the track and was a runner-up in four as well. Harvick finished second last week at Pocono to Ryan Blaney in a finish and win that will be talked about for years to come. Harvick was battling issues with his engine and despite missing a gear while shifting, the Roush Yates engine held on to secure the Busch Light Fusion a second place finish. Harvick is still winless in 2017 for Stewart-Haas Racing since the transition over to Ford and what better place for the veteran to win than at Ford’s home track at the Irish Hills in Southern Michigan.
I’m also keeping my eye on another potential first-time winner this weekend at Michigan in Chase Elliott. The driver of the No. 24 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet has yet to put it all together and capture his first victory in the Cup Series, but was the runner-up in his first two races at the track in his rookie season including to Kyle Larson who captured his first career win in August. Elliott certainly has the car to compete and win at Michigan with Hendrick engines under the hood and has also strung together back-to-back top 10 finishes showing he is starting to get in a groove. The only other first-time winner at Michigan besides Larson was Dale Jarrett back in 1991. Chase Elliott is another future superstar in the sport and to get his first career win at Michigan this weekend would equal instant gratification and solidify him as a force to be reckoned with for years to come in the cup series.
It will be an exciting weekend at MIS and I am looking forward to all of the action on one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. One last note, the only driver to ever capture the checkered flag and win the Cup Series Championship was Jeff Gordon in 2001. Gordon will be on the call this Sunday on FS1 with Mike Joy and D.W. just after 3 pm eastern time. Tune in for more exciting finishes like the one below from last August:
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