Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway represents the last curveball for Sprint Cup teams when it comes to aero packages.
Teams will run what is expected to be next season’s reduced downforce package for the last time this year before reverting to the 2016 package. After being raced at Michigan in June — Joey Logano won there — and portions of it used in the May All-Star Race — also won by Logano — this package was last seen at Kentucky in July. Logano’s Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski won there.
The last four trips to the 2-mile speedway have been won by a different team – Team Penske (June 2016), Joe Gibbs Racing (Aug. 2015), Stewart-Haas Racing (June 2015) and Hendrick Motorsports (Aug. 2014). Logano is the only repeat winner in the last six races. Greg Biffle won consecutive races in Aug. 2012 and June 2013.
Here’s who hot and cold going into this weekend.
Brad Keselowski – Finished 33rd at Bristol, worst finish this season. Finished in the top 10 in 10 of the last 14 races including three wins and top-three finishes in the two of the last three races. Finished in the top 10 in the last five races at Michigan but has never won at his home track, best of second in this race in 2012. Finished fourth in June.
Joey Logano – Finished in the top 10 in nine of the last 11 races of 2016 including a win at Michigan. Top 10 finishes in the last seven races at Michigan with two wins (both from pole) including June.
Tony Stewart – Six top 10s including a win at Sonoma in the last nine races. Five top-five finishes this season, only had three total in the previous two seasons combined. Finished seventh at Michigan in June, his first top 10 at the track since June 2013. One Michigan win, June 2000.
Kurt Busch – Finished 38th at Bristol after a DNF accident that broke a 25-race streak of finishing on the lead lap. Sixteen top-10 finishes in 2016, second most. Finished top 10 in 14 of the first 16 races this season, only two in the last seven races. Three Michigan wins, last was June of last year. Finished 10th earlier this year, only his third top 10 at Michigan in the last 12 races there.
Denny Hamlin – Five straight top-10 finishes including a win at Watkins Glen, his longest streak of 2016. Eight speeding penalties this season, most of all drivers. Two-time winner at Michigan but not since 2011. Finished 33rd after accident in June, his eighth finish outside the top 10 in the 10 races at Michigan since his last win.
Martin Truex Jr. – Only four top-10 finishes in the 10 races since his Charlotte win. Has not finished in the top 10 in back-to-back races since Dover and Charlotte. Has had an issue in 18 of the 23 races this season. Finished third in both races at Michigan last year and 12th in June, led 10 laps before a spin.
Greg Biffle – Finished 16th or worse in the last four races after finishing in the top 10 in three straight races prior. Four-time winner at Michigan, his most of all tracks. Only one top 10 finish in the last five races at Michigan, 19th in June.
Ryan Blaney – Does not have a top-10 finish in the last nine races after having four top 10s in the prior five races of 2016. Three Cup starts at Michigan, best finish of 17th in June.
Chase Elliott – Finished 13th or worse in the last eight races after finishing in the top 10 in each of the prior six. One Cup start at Michigan, finished career best second in June, after leading 35 laps.
Jimmie Johnson – Finished seventh at Bristol, only his ninth top-10 finish this season, tied for the fewest through 23 races in a season (2003). Only three top-10 finishes in the last 14 races of 2016. Finished 16th or worse in six of the last eight races at Michigan. One MIS win, June 2014. Finished 16th in June.
Here are interesting notes heading into this weekend’s race:
- Sunday’s race will be the 95th race at MIS. Michigan’s 95 races are the most of tracks that have yet to
host 100 races (seven tracks have hosted at least 100 races).
- Joey Logano won from the pole at Michigan in June, it was the 19th MIS race won from the pole, at least one race a year at MIS was won from the pole in the last four seasons, including the last two straight.
- There has never been three straight Michigan races won by the pole winner.
- One driver has earned their first career Cup series win at Michigan: Dale Jarrett (Aug. 1991) won in his 29th start, he is one of six drivers to get their first career Cup win driving for Wood Brothers Racing.