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Cup starting lineup for FireKeepers Casino 400: Larson on pole, Blaney goes for 2 in row

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If you like pure unadulterated speed, Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 is likely where you’ll find it.

Since its full repave in 2012, Michigan International Speedway has become the fastest track on the NASCAR Cup circuit. The retired Jeff Gordon holds the track’s speed record of 206.381 mph.

Kyle Larson, who won his first career Cup race last August at Michigan, looks to be the strongest driver and potentially the one to beat. Not only was Larson the fastest in Friday’s lone practice session, he also won the pole for Sunday’s race with a speed of 202.156 mph.

Larson feels especially at home at MIS because it suits his driving style the best — he likes speed, and lots of it, and rides the high line through the turns with aplomb. It’s not surprising, as MIS is a twin to another of Larson’s favorite tracks, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Martin Truex Jr. will start on the outside of the front row for the third consecutive race.

Row 2 will feature Clint Bowyer starting from the third spot — tying his best start of the season — and Kyle Busch, who is still seeking his first win since last year’s Brickyard 400. In fact, all four of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Cup drivers have yet to reach victory lane in 2017.

Ryan Blaney, who won Sunday at Pocono, looks for a second straight win this Sunday at Michigan.

Row 3 features another JGR driver, Denny Hamlin, and last Sunday’s winner at Pocono, Ryan Blaney. If Blaney can make it two wins in a row, he’ll give the legendary Wood Brothers their 100th NASCAR Cup victory.

In Row 4, defending race winner Joey Logano starts from the seventh spot and looks to break a slide that has seen him fail to finish higher than 23rd in the last five races, and also caused him to drop from fifth to 11th in the NASCAR Cup driver standings. Jamie McMurray starts outside in the eighth position.

Lastly in Row 5, Matt Kenseth starts from the ninth position, while Chase Elliott is alongside, still looking for his first career Cup win.

There are only 37 drivers entered for this race.

Click here for the row-by-row starting lineup for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400.

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Tonight’s Xfinity race at Iowa: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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Sam Hornish Jr. looks to return to Iowa Speedway and win the June event for the second consecutive year, but several others, including points leader Elliott Sadler and rookie teammate William Byron, look for their first series win of the year. Justin Allgaier and Ryan Reed seek their second victory of the season.

Here are the particulars for tonight’s Xfinity race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Emily Skor, CEO Growth Energy, will give the command to start engines at 8:37 p.m. Green flag is set for 8:44 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 250 laps (218.75 miles) around the 7/8-mile oval.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 60. Stage 2 ends on Lap 120.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity garage opens at 2:30 p.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 8:10 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Specialist Michelle Monroe, Iowa National Guard 34th Army Band, will perform the Anthem at 8:31 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race. Its coverage begins at 8 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s broadcast on radio and at mrn.com begins at 8 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 70 degrees at race time with a 1 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Sam Hornish Jr. led 183 of 250 laps to win this event a year ago. Ty Dillon was second. Brad Keselowski was third. Erik Jones won the most recent Iowa race last July, leading 154 of 250 laps. Ty Dillon was second. Elliott Sadler placed third.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 6:15 p.m.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson want Cup All-Star Race at Iowa Speedway

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NASCAR has been sending its Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series to Iowa Speedway since 2009, but its premier series has never held a race at the .875-mile track in Newton, Iowa.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Larson would like that to change sooner rather than later.

Stenhouse and Larson spoke to the Des Moines Register ahead of this weekend’s NASCAR races at the track.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver and former Iowa winner expressed enthusiasm at Iowa someday hosting the Monster Energy All-Star Race.

“To see how much support that the Iowa Speedway gets from the fans, it’s pretty incredible,” Stenhouse said. “I’d love to get the All-Star race here.”

The exhibition has been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway every year but one since it was introduced in 1985. It was at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986.

But with lackluster races and fan turnout in recent years for the event at the 1.5-mile track, support has been growing to possible hold the event at other tracks.

“I would like that better than Charlotte, for sure. … I’d be down for it,” Larson told the newspaper of having the event in Iowa.

Iowa Speedway opened in 2006 and was bought by NASCAR in 2013.

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Saturday’s track schedules at Sonoma and Iowa

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Today we reach the mid-point of this weekend’s busy NASCAR schedule.

The NASCAR Cup Series will have a short day at Sonoma Raceway, with only qualifying on the agenda at 2:45 p.m. ET.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will have the busier day at Iowa Speedway, with qualifying at 6:15 p.m. ET, followed by the American Ethanol e15 200 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Sam Hornish Jr. is the defending winner of this race, and returns to try and make it two in a row, racing this year for Team Penske.

Here’s today’s schedule (all times are Eastern):

At SONOMA

10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Cup garage open

2:45 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, two rounds) (FS1, Performance Racing Network)

At IOWA

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

6:15 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (Tape delayed at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

7:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

8 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

8:30 p.m. – American Ethanol e15 200 Xfinity Series race (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR radio)

Stats, Results for Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway

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John Hunter Nemechek led the final six laps to win the Camping World Truck Series’ M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway.

It’s his second win in two weeks.

Nemechek beat out Johnny Sauter, Brandon Jones, Grant Engfinger and Christopher Bell.

Click here for race results.