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‘Motor Sports’ Articles

IndyCar legend Al Unser Jr., & Ben Wallace talked to the media covering the Consumers Energy 400 race Sunday morning

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Brad Kulbander; COURTESY MIS MEDIA RELATIONS

 

 

Al Unser Jr. told the media he wishes IndyCar would come back to MIS (photo by Stuart Mason)

Ben Wallace said the Pistons made a great hire in Dwane Casey (photo by Stuart Mason)

 

PRESS CONFERENCE WITH AL UNSER JR. & BEN WALLACE

 

Al Unser Jr and Ben Wallace 2018 Pace Car drivers for Michigan 400 8 12 2018

 

 

 

 

 

NBA Legend Ben Wallace to drive pace car for the Consumers Energy 400

Teacher of the Year named grand marshal, and lifesaving employee named honorary starter

 

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 8, 2018) – The start of the Consumers Energy 400 will showcase three individuals who know about the adrenaline of being in high energy moments. NBA Legend Ben Wallace will be the pace car driver; Tom Hunt, the Jackson County Teacher of the Year, will serve as the grand marshal; and Michigan hero Jason Potter will drop the green flag as the honorary starter.

Hunt will deliver the most famous words in motorsports, “Drivers, start your engines,” when the Consumers Energy 400 gets underway on Aug. 12 at Michigan International Speedway. Potter will give the field the green flag as they come roaring under him to start the race. Wallace will experience the thrill of leading the field to the green flag. The race begins at 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on NBCSN.

“I am excited to drive the pace car for the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway,” Wallace said. “I have followed racing for a long time and have always wanted to attend a NASCAR race after hearing so much about it during my time with the Pistons. I am looking forward to experiencing all NASCAR has to offer.”

The White Hall, AL native starred in the NBA for 16 seasons with Washington, Orlando, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. Known for his defense and rebounding, Wallace won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times in nine seasons with the Detroit Pistons. Wallace made back-to-back NBA Finals appearances (2004 and 2005) and won the NBA Championship with Detroit in 2004.He retired from the NBA after his final season with the Pistons in 2012. The Pistons retired his No. 3 jersey in 2016.

“We are excited to have three individuals who have achieved so much success in their careers to start the Consumers Energy 400,” MIS President Rick Brenner said. “The fans eagerly wait for the start of the race as the engines roar. The Consumers Energy 400 race is the pinnacle of everything we have planned for our guests all week at MIS.”

“Consumers Energy is committed to the Michigan communities we serve. We are thrilled to recognize Tom Hunt and Jason Potter — two Michigan residents who have given so much to their communities — at this weekend’s world-class race that showcases our state for a national audience,” said Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president of customer experience.

 

Potter received a prestigious award from the American Gas Association for his actions in 2017. He saw a vehicle get clipped by another car traveling at a high rate of speed. It spun out of control and rolled over several times – finally coming to rest on the driver’s side door.

To block oncoming traffic, Potter parked in the slow lane on I-75, put his flashers on and ran toward the vehicle. The unconscious woman had her arm pinned between the vehicle’s roof and the ground.

Potter noticed the woman’s bleeding arm so he ripped his shirt and tied it as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding as another driver called 9-1-1. Potter was unable to get the bleeding to stop, so he used his hands to squeeze the artery under her armpit.

Potter calmed the woman down when she regained consciousness and held pressure on the woman’s artery until paramedics arrived.

Hunt was named by Jackson Magazine this year as Jackson County’s top teacher. Hunt has over 30 years of teaching experience and teaches chemistry at Jackson High School. Known for his rainbow tie-dye lab coats, Hunt has focused his teaching career on providing hands-on experiences for his students.

“The heart of my teaching is building students up and showing their potential,” Hunt has said. “To borrow a slogan from the Army, I want them to be all they can be. I love my students, and I find that if you grab them by the heart, the rest follows.”

Tickets start at $35 for the Consumers Energy 400 on Aug. 12. Fans can find the perfect campsite for their families and friends in any of the different campgrounds at the track starting at $170. Fans can purchase tickets and campsites at www.mispeedway.com or by calling 888-905-7223.

Children 12 and under are free on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, children 12 and under tickets start at $15.  Children 12 and under can attend three days of NASCAR action for just $15, ensuring families a weekend of fun at affordable prices.

NASCAR’s most entertaining track is providing memorable experiences for fans during the Consumers Energy 400 in August. The entertainment starts early in the week and will go right through the checkered flag for the Consumers Energy 400. On Saturday, fans can enjoy a special post-race concert featuring The Cadillac Three and Logan Mize. The concert is free to anybody with an admission to the Consumers Energy 400 on Sunday.

In the campgrounds, fans can experience a Medium, play bingo, partake in a variety of fitness programs and watch a movie under the stars. The track will even have face painters, crafts, outdoor games, a magician and a DJ for the kids. The party goes late into the night with NightCap on The Club Z “ed” Party Deck.

The fan plaza will feature live music entertainment and strolling street performers for guests to enjoy as they prepare for the race. In addition, guests can enjoy a wood carving show.

Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack. It has been the love of NASCAR racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike for 50 years.

 

Michigan International Speedway to host hockey tournament in January 2019

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Brad Kulbander; COURTESY MIS MEDIA RELATIONS

 

Hockey Coming to the Tri-Oval at Michigan International Speedway

Portion of the proceeds benefit youth hockey in Jackson, Mich.

 

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 10, 2018) – Michigan International Speedway has created a unique experience for everyone. During two weekends in January, the track will host the inaugural MIS Backyard Hockey Tournament and Winter Festival in the tri-oval.

The three-on-three and four-on-four hockey tournament will take place on Jan. 4 – 6 and Jan. 11 – 13. The backyard hockey rinks will be set up right on the tri-oval at Michigan International Speedway as fans will be able to enjoy a winter festival that will include food, beverages, and winter activities on pit road or enjoy the action from a suite.

The event’s first marketing partner, the Detroit Red Wings, are thrilled to support the event and Michigan youth and adult hockey. “Backyard hockey rinks dot the state of Michigan from down river to the east and west sides and in the U.P.,” said Chris Granger, Group President, Sports & Entertainment, Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “We’re proud to support these fun and competitive weekends on the racetrack rinks.”

The Jackson Area Hockey Association will assist in running the event.

The first weekend will see action from the following divisions: 8U, Squirt (10U), Pee Wee (12U), Bantam, Midget A, combine Midget AA and college age up to 20 years of age. The second weekend of the tournament will feature adult leagues.

“We are excited to host the inaugural MIS Backyard Hockey Tournament,” MIS President Rick Brenner said. “This unique experience is another opportunity to contribute to the facilities economic impact in Michigan. We look forward to celebrating the game of hockey right here at NASCAR’s most entertaining track.”

Teams can sign up at www.mispeedway.com/hockey beginning August 15 to participate in all the action in January. The tournament is $450 per team. The deadline to register is October 15. Each team is guaranteed five games over the course of the weekend and up to eight games for the champion. Teams will be given a special ticket offer courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings.

An additional announcement will be made this fall about open skates and rink rental opportunities.

Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack. It has been the love of NASCAR racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike for 50 years.

 

Denny Hamlin gains Pole for Michigan 400 race

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Brad Kuhbander; COURTESY MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY MEDIA RELATIONS

 

Denny Hamlin wins Busch Pole Award for Consumers Energy 400 (courtesy Getty Images)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series holds two practices for the Corrigan Oil 200

 

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 8, 2018) – Friday was a full day of action at Michigan International Speedway as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series were both on the track. Denny Hamlin claimed the pole position for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400.

Hamlin swept all three rounds of qualifying, including running his fastest speed in the final round at 202.794 MPH. In the opening round, Hamlin laid down a lap of 201.590 MPH to beat Kurt Busch. The top 24 advanced to the second round where once again Hamlin was out front. This time he topped the speed charts at 202.224 MPH. He led the 12 drivers in the final round to win his first pole position at Michigan International Speedway. He’ll go for his third career Michigan win on Sunday.

“I actually wasn’t that confident – I didn’t get all of it for sure, but the team gave me a great driving car and one that was just easily and consistently able to back-up times and time after time we got faster on the race track today,” Hamlin said. “Proud of this whole FedEx Toyota team. These guys are really stepping up and we’re starting to make a little hay now.”

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series got the day started with a practice session as all 40 drivers took to the track in preparation for the Consumers Energy 400. Hamlin led the way with a speed of 202.230 MPH. Kurt Busch posted a speed of 201.901 MPH for the second-best speed while Daniel Suarez was third at 201.850 MPH. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five on the speed charts. Michigan natives Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones were 15th and 16threspectively in practice.

On Saturday, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will hold two more practice sessions. The Consumers Energy 400 begins at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday and will be broadcast live on NBCSN.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series had two practice sessions on Friday. Noah Gragson led the opening practice session with a speed of 187.227 MPH. His teammate, Todd Gilliland, was third on the speed charts at 185.581 MPH. Matt Crafton split the teammates with a speed of 185.763 MPH.

Dalton Sargeant paced the field at 186.466 MPH in second practice while Brett Moffitt was second at 186.331 MPH. Crafton, Spencer Davis and Myatt Snider rounded out the top five.

The Corrigan Oil 200 starts at 1p.m. on Saturday and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

Tickets start at $35 for the Consumers Energy 400 on Aug. 12. Fans can purchase tickets at www.mispeedway.com or by calling 888-905-7223. Children 12 and under are free on Saturday. On Sunday, children 12 and under tickets start at $15.

NASCAR’s most entertaining track is providing memorable experiences for fans during the Consumers Energy 400 in August. On Saturday, fans can enjoy a special post-race concert featuring The Cadillac Three and Logan Mize. The concert is free to anybody with an admission to the Consumers Energy 400 on Sunday.

The fan plaza features live music entertainment and strolling street performers for guests to enjoy as they prepare for the race. In addition, guests can enjoy a wood carving show.

Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack. It has been the love of NASCAR racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike for 50 years.

 

Brett Moffitt wins Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan on last lap

RACE RECAP WRITTEN BY Brad Kuhbander; COURTESY MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY MEDIA RELATIONS

 

 

Brett Moffitt edges Johnny Sauter to win race (courtesy Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 11, 2018) – The racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series at Michigan International Speedway is known for its exciting action and late race passes for the lead. The Corrigan Oil 200 lived up to expectations as Brett Moffitt used a last-lap pass to earn the victory.

Moffitt trailed Johnny Sauter with five laps remaining, but used a unique strategy to pull off the win. He backed up to the third-place truck. The trucks were able to use the draft to their advantage today and Moffitt used it to perfection at the end of the race. Moffitt used a push from John Hunter Nemechek to gain the momentum to track Sauter back down.

“The whole last however many laps that I was behind him, I was running wide open and I would push him with that air bubble between our bumpers so I tried to back up (turn) one and let him get out there a little bit,” Moffitt said. “I knew the 8 (John Hunter Nemechek) was behind us and I was hoping he would get to us and be able to push us. I was able to plan it right and play it right – it’s just great to get here.”

As Sauter and Moffitt took the white flag, it was Sauter still out front. Sauter led all the through turn three. In turn four, Moffitt stuck the nose of his truck under Sauter and from there it was a drag race to the finish. At the finish line, it was Moffitt by 0.025 seconds.

The victory was the second win for Moffitt at Michigan International Speedway. In 2016, Moffitt went three-wide into Turn 1 on the last lap in order to capture the top spot and his first-ever win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He used a similar move Saturday to return to Gatorade Victory Lane.

Nemechek started on the pole position for the Corrigan Oil 200 after posting a speed of 184.044 MPH during qualifying earlier in the day. He garnered the top starting position by 0.004 MPH over Todd Gilliland who rolled off second.

Nemechek grabbed the early lead and paced the field for the first four laps. The 20-lap first stage saw four leaders in the early going as the drivers battled for the front. But Stewart Friesen showed his mettle by leading the final seven laps of the stage. He took the checkered green and white flag to claim the stage.

The second stage had more side-by-side racing as the intensity continued to increase throughout. Matt Mills brought out the caution when he got loose and hit the wall. Then Justin Fontaine scraped the wall to set up a one-lap shootout. It was teammates Grant Enfinger and Myatt Snider battling to earn the stage win. Enfinger got the front of his truck to the line first to win the second stage.

Denny Hamlin will lead the field to the green flag for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 on Sunday. Hamlin swept all three stages in qualifying to win his first pole at Michigan International Speedway. Michigan natives Erik Jones and Brad Keselowski will start fourth and 18th, respectively. Hamlin will go for his third career Michigan win on Sunday while Keselowski and Jones are looking for their first victory at MIS.

Tickets start at $35 for the Consumers Energy 400 on Aug. 12. Fans can purchase tickets at www.mispeedway.com or by calling 888-905-7223. On Sunday, children 12 and under tickets start at $15.

The fan plaza features live music entertainment and strolling street performers for guests to enjoy as they prepare for the race. In addition, guests can enjoy a wood carving show.

Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack. It has been the love of NASCAR racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike for 50 years.

 

NASCAR visits Michigan and Mid-Ohio this weekend

RACE PREVIEW WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF NASCARmedia.com

 

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Consumers Energy 400

The Place: Michigan International Speedway

The Date: Sunday, August 12

The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 1:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Rock N Roll Tequila 170 presented by Amethyst Beverage

The Place: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

The Date: Saturday, August 11

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 170 miles (75 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 75)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: Corrigan Oil 200

The Place: Michigan International Speedway

The Date: Saturday, August 11

The Time: 1 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 200 miles (100 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 100)

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Going For Two in a Row

It’s a good time to be Chase Elliott. Not only did the popular 22-year-old star pick up his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Watkins Glen on Sunday, he is one of the top-ranked drivers at Michigan International Speedway, where the series moves this week for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Elliott has five top-10 finishes in five starts and his average finish of 4.6 in this race is twice as good as the next driver – Erik Jones, whose average finish is 10.33 in three starts. Among those with more than five starts, veteran Matt Kenseth is tops with an 11.34 average finish.

 

Elliott finished runner-up in his first three races at the Michigan two-miler and has completed every lap of each race he’s run.

 

A victory on Sunday would make him the first driver in 53 years to win his first two Cup races back-to-back on the schedule. Billy Wade was the last to do so in 1964 and NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett did it in 1959.

 

Elliott has three consecutive top-10 finishes in his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet heading into Michigan.

 

Youth on a Roll

Not only did Elliott, 22, win at The Glen, four other drivers aged 26 or younger finished in the top eight. Daniel Suarez, 26; Erik Jones, 22; and Kyle Larson, 25 finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. And 20-year old rookie William Byron was eighth. Ryan Blaney, 24, finished 11th.

 

It’s the second consecutive week that NASCAR’s young stars have crowded the top-10 in a race finishing order and may well signal that the youth movement, so often a hot topic in the preseason, is now beginning to find its stride.

 

Suarez (runner-up), Alex Bowman, 25, (third) and Byron (sixth) all had top-10 finishes – all career best days – at Pocono two weeks ago.

 

Michigan is a good place for these drivers too. Larson has won three of the last four races and Elliott has three runner-up finishes in the last five races. Blaney led 15 laps at the June rain-shortened race in the Irish Hills and finished eighth.

 

 

Big 3 Still Holding Strong

For all the well-deserved props to Elliott for the win on Sunday at Watkins Glen, he still had to hold off two members of the “Big 3″ for the victory. The race’s defending winner Martin Truex Jr. finished runner-up, closely challenging Elliott throughout the final laps. And championship points leader Kyle Busch finished third. Even six-time race winner Kevin Harvick rallied to a 10th-place finish – as both Busch and Harvick had to rally late because of mid-race issues.

 

Truex, the defending Monster Energy Series champion and a four-time race winner in 2018, is looking for his first career Michigan victory. The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota was runner-up in this race last year – one of three second-place finishes he has at the track.

 

Busch, a six-time 2018 winner, has three consecutive top-10 finishes at Michigan. His only career victory at the track came in this race in 2011. In the last 13 races, the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has led only 64 laps.

 

Harvick is coming off a real near-miss at Michigan, having led a race best 49 laps in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in the rain-shortened event in June – but he finished runner-up to his SHR teammate Clint Bowyer. Harvick now has four top-10 five finishes in the last six races there. His lone win came in this race in 2010 while he was still competing for Richard Childress Racing.

 

 

Larson Lurking

Kyle Larson may well feel he’s done everything BUT win in 2018. And with three of his five career wins coming at Michigan International Speedway, there may be no one more eager to get to the Irish Hills.

 

Larson’s streak of three wins was snapped in the rain-shortened race earlier this summer when he finished 28th. He has led 141 of his career total (150 laps) at Michigan in the last four races there.

 

The driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet has only one top-10 finish (a sixth-place at Watkins Glen) since a ninth place at Kentucky Speedway four weeks ago and he hasn’t led a lap since his runner-up finish at Chicago, six races ago. Twice this year, he’s started on the pole (at Dover and Sonoma) and twice he’s led more than 100 laps but not gotten the trophy (200 at Bristol and 101 at Kansas).

 

He has 12 top-10 and six top-five finishes in 22 races this season.

 

Returning to the Scene of Triumph

Clint Bowyer’s victory in the rain-shortened Michigan race earlier this summer was his first ever at the track in 24 previous starts and his second victory on the season – putting him in rarefied company as a multi-time winner. He joins “The Big 3″ in that category this year – six-time winners Harvick and Busch and four-time winner Truex.

 

Bowyer’s victory – his first top-20 finish since 2015 at Michigan – started a three-race streak of top-10 finishes on the schedule for the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford team. He was third at Sonoma then fifth at Chicago. The pit strategy used for his Michigan win (two tires on the final pit stop) certainly made the difference and it was a big boost for the whole organization. His SHR team finished 1-2-3 – the first sweep for a team since Roush-Fenway Racing in 2008 at Dover, Del.

 

“When we finished first with Kevin [Harvick] and Kurt [Busch] behind us, it was just awesome,’’ Bowyer still recalls fondly. “We got out and gave each other hugs. We were 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. It’s not just Kevin, Kurt, Aric (Almirola) and I. It’s our teams, our crew chiefs, our pit crews, everybody who raises the bar for everybody involved. It’s cool to see.”

 

And after back-to-back 11th-place finishes – at Pocono and Watkins Glen – Bowyer wants to close out the regular season in title-contention form.

 

He has 10 top-10 finishes on the season and six top-fives, but crashed out in two of the last five races (at Daytona and at New Hampshire).

 

 

Change of Pace

Former Monster Energy Series champion and Michigan native Brad Keselowski has long anticipated celebrating a win in the Michigan International Speedway victory circle. And uncharacteristically winless late in the regular season, this weekend would be a perfect place to score that first Cup win there.

 

Keselowski has seven top-10 finishes in the last nine Michigan races. He won the pole position for this race last year and led a race-best 105 of the 202 laps but finished 17th.

 

The driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford has led at least a lap in three of the five races leading up to this week’s Michigan stop, but he’s had two DNFs in the last five races – three finishes of 32nd or worse. His only top-15 in that span was a third at Kentucky Speedway four races ago. The previous top-10 was a sixth-place at Michigan eight races ago.

 

Still, he remains well within the Playoff threshold in 10th-place. He has 11 top-10 finishes on the season and led 323 laps, but he has five DNFs – equal to a career-high total (2017).

 

 

Closer and Closer

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson didn’t win Sunday, but he was the among the very first to congratulate his young teammate Chase Elliott on the win. The victory marked the 250th for the championship Hendrick Motorsports organization and Johnson has contributed 83 of those wins.

 

He’d love to get 84 NOW. It’s been a career-long 36-race winless streak for Johnson and the sport’s best is ready to regain form. Judging by the past few weeks, it appears Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet team is poised. In the last five races, Johnson has run 43 laps in either first or second place on track – that’s more front-running laps than the previous 17 races combined.

 

And Johnson shows up in Michigan having led the most laps (687) there of any active driver – nearly 200 more laps out front than anyone else in the field. His lone win came in 2014, but Johnson has more reason to feel optimistic. Of all drivers to win on two-mile tracks such as Michigan, Johnson’s seven-victory total puts him in some esteemed company joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bill Elliott.

 

“I’m beyond happy for Chase and proud of the effort and strides we have been making at Hendrick Motorsports – what a great win for this company,’’ Johnson said after the big weekend at Watkins Glen.

 

“I’m looking forward to carrying that momentum with us to Michigan this weekend.”

 

 

Sunoco Rookie Race

Last weekend was a big milestone for first-time winner Chase Elliott, but it was also an important day for Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender William Byron, whose eighth-place finish at Watkins Glen gave him his first back-to-back weeks of top-10 finishes. He was a career-high sixth place at Pocono two weeks ago.

 

Byron returns to Michigan with a nice feather in his cap. He is the only driver to have run 100 percent of his laps among the top-15. He finished 13th at the track in June and the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has a nice record at the two-miler.

 

He was fourth in the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race here and runner-up last year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

 

Bubba Wallace similarly arrives in Michigan feeling optimistic. He won the Camping World Truck Series race at the track last year and one of his two top-20 finishes (19th) in the last eight Monster Energy Series races came earlier this summer here as well.

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Strong Chance Mid-Ohio Sees Sixth Different Winner In As Many Races

The NASCAR Xfinity Series has been competing on the multi-elevation road course known simply as the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course since 2013, and each event since has produced a different winner, five in total. Only one of the former Mid-Ohio Xfinity Series winners, Justin Marks (2016), is entered in the Rock N Roll Tequila 170 Presented by Amethyst Beverage this weekend, making the chances fans get to see a sixth different winner stout.

 

The five different Xfinity winners at Mid-Ohio are A.J. Allmendinger (2013), Chris Buescher (2014), Regan Smith (2015), Justin Marks (2016) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2017).

 

As noted, Marks is the only former winner entered this weekend. He has been tapped by Chip Ganassi Racing to pilot the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief Mike Shiplett. Marks has made four series starts at Mid-Ohio in his Xfinity career posting one win, three top 10s and an average finish of 7.8. He finished ninth in this event last season. This Saturday’s race at Mid-Ohio will be Marks series season debut, his last start was at Road America last season; where he started fifth and finished fourth.

 

First-Time Winners Are Common On Xfinity Road Courses

First-Time Winners Date Track
1 Jeremy Clements 8/27/2017 Road America
2 Michael McDowell 8/27/2016 Road America
3 Justin Marks 8/13/2016 Mid-Ohio
4 Chris Buescher 8/16/2014 Mid-Ohio
5 Brendan Gaughan 6/21/2014 Road America
6 AJ Allmendinger 6/22/2013 Road America
7 Nelson Piquet Jr 6/23/2012 Road America
8 Boris Said 8/29/2010 Montreal
9 Marcos Ambrose 8/9/2008 Watkins Glen

In the last 10 seasons, road courses in the NASCAR Xfinity Series have produced nine first-time winners. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course stakes claim to two of those nine – Chris Buescher (2014) and Justin Marks (2016).

 

This weekend in the Rock N Roll Tequila 170 Presented by Amethyst Beverage on Saturday, August 11 at 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), there are 28 drivers entered in the field looking for their first NASCAR Xfinity Series win.

 

Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric made his series track debut at Mid-Ohio last season, finishing runner-up to Sam Hornish Jr. This season the youngster from Kannapolis, North Carolina, is still looking for his first career victory. He sits third in the series standings after posting nine top fives and 13 top 10s this season.

 

Katherine Legge to Make NASCAR Xfinity Series Debut

Popular IMSA sports car driver Katherine Legge will attempt to make her NASCAR Xfinity Series debut this weekend with JD Motorsports in the No. 15 Chevrolet Camaro in the Rock N Roll Tequila 170 Presented by Amethyst Beverage at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, August 11 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Legge hails from Guilford, England, and cut her teeth competing in open-wheel and sports car racing all over the world. Though this weekend will be her first behind the wheel of a stock car, she has competed at Mid-Ohio before, finishing runner-up in the IMSA GTD class earlier this season.

Legge’s aspirations in NASCAR don’t end with the Xfinity Series, her ultimate goal is to go Cup racing.

“What I’d really like to do, is do a couple of these (Xfinity) races and hopefully learn and hopefully have done a good job and hopefully raise some money and do the ROVAL race at the end of the year,’’ Legge said “I know that’s going to be a tall order, but I have my eyes on more that’s for sure.”

If Legge qualifies for the race this weekend at Mid-Ohio, she will become just the 22nd different female driver to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series; joining Patty Moise, Danica Patrick, Shawna Robinson, Johanna Long, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Tammy Jo Kirk, Tina Gordon, Angela Ruch, Diane Teel, Erin Crocker, Kim Crosby, Amber Cope, Chrissy Wallace, Maryeve Dufault, Milka Duno, Paige Decker, Alli Owens, Debbie Lunsford, Kat Teasdale, Lisa Jackson and Mara Reyes.

 

Lally & Gaughan Return To Xfinity Series To Road Race

Two drivers worth keeping an eye on this weekend are road course aces Andy Lally and Brendan Gaughan, as the two are entered this weekend to showcase their road racing skills and steal a win. Since 2016, no other drivers entered this weekend in the Rock N Roll Tequila 170 Presented by Amethyst Beverage at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, August 11 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio have posted better average finishes on road course in the Xfinity Series than Andy Lally (6.0) and Brandan Gaughan (6.5).

IMSA road racing star Lally will pilot the No. 90 DGM Racing Chevrolet this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in his first start of the season. Lally last competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last season at Mid-Ohio, where he posted a fifth-place finish driving for car owner Bobby Dotter.

 

Gaughan will also be making his first series start of the season after retiring from fulltime competition last season. Gaughan will be strapping into the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with crew chief Nick Harrison on the pit box.

 

Gaughan’s performances at Mid-Ohio have progressively gotten better over time. In four starts he has posted two top 10s and an average finish of 11.8. He finished seventh in this race last season.

Sunoco Rookie Christopher Bell Extends Championship Points Lead

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell wasn’t able to win his fourth straight race of the season last weekend at Watkins Glen, but he was able to post his 13th top-10 finish of the season to extend his NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship standings lead to 22 points over second-place Cole Custer and 23 points ahead of third-place Daniel Hemric.

 

Bell has a chance this weekend to win his fifth race of the season, which would tie the series record for most wins in a single rookie season; joining Greg Biffle (2001), Kyle Busch (2004) and Carl Edwards (2005).

 

This season Bell has been outstanding in terms of production. In 20 starts he has four wins (Richmond, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Iowa-2), which equates to a winning percentage of 20% of the races run this season. In addition to the wins, Bell has amassed three poles, 12 top fives and 13 top 10s.

 

This weekend will be Bell’s series track debut at Mid-Ohio.

 

Ohio Native Matt Tifft A Fan Favorite At Mid-Ohio

Each driver will tell you nothing beats racing in front of the home crowd, and this weekend in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Richard Childress Racing’s Matt Tifft will have that opportunity.

Tifft calls Hinckley, Ohio, home – a town just over an hour northeast of the famous Mid-Ohio road course.

Tifft is currently 10th in the series championship standings driving the Richard Childress Racing No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief Randall Burnett. The duo has worked well together this season, posting two top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 14.9.

Watch for Tifft to put on a great show for the home crowd this weekend, much like he did in his series track debut last season; starting fifth and finishing third.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings Update: Christopher Bell’s four wins this season has him with a commanding lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. Top five in the Sunoco Rookie points standings following Watkins Glen: Bell (737), Tyler Reddick (-142), Austin Cindric (-229), Kaz Grala (-392), Alex Labbe (-438).

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Pressure Cooker: Just Two Races Left To Make The Postseason

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is coming off a one-week break and now heads to Michigan International Speedway for the Corrigan Oil 200 on Saturday, August 11 (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for the second-to-last regular season race before the Playoffs begin. Pressure is mounting for drivers not locked into the postseason as time running short to secure their spot.

 

Currently five drivers have clinched their spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs following Pocono two weeks back – Johnny Sauter, Brett Moffit, Noa Gragson, Justin Haley and Ben Rhodes – that leaves three positions still in play for the drivers not currently locked-in to the Playoffs.

 

Heading into Michigan several drivers still have a shot to work their way into the postseason. The best way to make the Playoffs is by winning, but Grant Enfinger (sixth in points), Stewart Friesen (seventh) and Matt Crafton (eighth) haven’t clinched yet, so getting in on points is still an option.

 

Crafton, in the eighth and final Playoff spot in the championship standings, currently holds a 94-point lead over ninth place Myatt Snider heading into this weekend at Michigan.

 

Rank Driver Race Wins Playoff Pts Points From Cutoff
6 Grant Enfinger 0 2 504 133
7 Stewart Friesen 0 4 495 124
8 Matt Crafton 0 0 465 94
9 Myatt Snider # 0 0 371 -94
10 Cody Coughlin 0 0 356 -109
11 Dalton Sargeant # 0 0 351 -114
12 Todd Gilliland # 0 1 328 -137

 

Of the drivers in positions eighth through 12th in the Truck Series championship standings, Matt Crafton and Cody Coughlin are the only two with previous starts at Michigan. Sunoco rookies Myatt Snider, Dalton Sargeant and Todd Gilliland will all be making their series track debuts this weekend. Crafton has made 16 series starts at Michigan posting an average finish of 14.1 and Coughlin has made three series starts at MIS with an average finish of 20.3.

 

First-Time Winner A Possibility At Michigan

One interesting thing to note is there are four drivers who got their first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Michigan International Speedway throughout the years. As the series heads there this weekend, there is a good possibility for a new winner.

 

Hattori Racing Enterprises’ driver Brett Moffitt grabbed his first career win at Michigan back in 2016. Moffit is currently fifth in the series championship standings after posting three wins this season.

 

Brazilian Nelson Piquet, Jr. got his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Michigan in 2012 driving for truck owner Steve Turner of Turner Motorsports.

 

Colin Braun’s first and only win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was at Michigan in 2009, driving for Roush Fenway Racing.

 

And finally, former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Benson, Jr.’s first win in the series was at Michigan back in 2006.

 

Irish Hills: Hitting The Home Track

Home sweet, home. Michigan fans will have the opportunity to cheer on some locals when the Camping World Truck Series hits the track this weekend. There are couple of pit crew members who are familiar with Michigan and the speedway as they call cities around the track “home.”

 

  • Chris McMullen from Canton, Michigan is the rear tire changer for the No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet with driver Austin Hill.
  • NASCAR veteran, Tim Fedewa, from Holt, Michigan is the spotter for the No. 63 MB Motorsports Chevrolet with driver Bayley Currey.
  • James Pearce from Howell, Michigan is the mechanic and fuel changer for the series championship driver standings leading No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet with driver Johnny Sauter.
  • Jake Brzozowski from Sterling Heights, Michigan is the tire carrier for the No. 41 ThorSport Racing Ford with driver Ben Rhodes.
  • Jason Hedleski from Clinton, Michigan is the spotter for the No. 54 DGR-Crosley Toyota with driver Matt Mills this weekend.

Two Vastly Different Speedways Left In The Regular Season

With so much on the line for the drivers over the next two weeks, the difference between the two tracks remaining on the regular season schedule, Michigan International Speedway (Saturday, August 11 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and Bristol Motor Speedway (Thursday, August 16 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) couldn’t be more different.

 

This weekend the series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the Corrigan Oil 200. Michigan International Speedway is a 2-mile, D-shaped oval with 18-degrees of banking in the turns that has produced 16 different race winners.

 

Teams will then head to Bristol Motor Speedway the following week for the UNOH 200. The 0.533-mile short track concrete oval that has produced 15 different series winners. Although this track is short in length, it is known for its distinct features and variable banking. Bristol will be the last race before Playoffs begin.

 

ThorSport Racing Teammates Feeling Same Pressure

Matt Crafton has had a season full of struggles but has still managed to put himself in Playoff contention with his top five and top-10 finishes.

 

Crafton, who is still searching for his first win this season and his chance to lock in his Playoff spot, is very familiar with Michigan International Speedway. Although, he has yet to cross the finish line first there.

 

The veteran driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford has three poles at the track, and has finished in the top 10 in the last five races at the track, two of them from the pole position. His best finish was in 2014 where he started in 14th and battled his way to the front for a second-place finish. In the last two races there, Crafton led a total of 33 laps.

 

In the last eight races at Michigan, Crafton has had the most driver points. The veteran has five top fives and seven top 10s under his belt so far this season and is sitting in eighth place, right above the Playoff cut line. Getting a win is crucial for Crafton to lock in his Playoff spot, and with only two races left before the Playoffs, the pressure is certainly on. Crafton has not had a winless season since 2012.

 

After this weekend’s race, the Truck Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway. Bristol is another track where Crafton has not yet won and is the last track that drivers have the ability to win at to qualify for the Playoffs. He is familiar with the track, as he has been there 15 times in his career, the most of any driver in the series. He has four top fives and nine top-10 finishes there, with a runner-up finish last year.

 

Having Michigan and Bristol be the last two races left for a spot could be a positive for Crafton as he has the most experience at those tracks than any other driver.

 

Crafton’s ThorSport Racing teammate Grant Enfinger has had the same struggles as Crafton this season. Enfinger has not been able to grab a win to clinch his Playoff position. He too, however, is sitting in postseason contention right now based on points.

 

In the driver standings, Enfinger is sitting in third place, but in the Playoff standings, he is sitting in sixth, right under all the drivers who have secured their spot with a win this season.

He has four top fives, 10 top 10s, one pole and has led 50 laps this season. The only thing missing is a win.

 

Enfinger has one win under his belt in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career and it came in 2016 at Daytona. He came close at the Eldora Dirt Derby where he finished in second-place after a heartbreaking loss to teammate Chase Briscoe on the final lap. Enfinger has finished in the top 10 in the last four races and has started in the top 10 in the last three.

 

The driver of the No. 98 Ford has only visited Michigan International Speedway twice in his career, finishing in the top 10 both times. If he can’t clinch the win at Michigan, he’ll have another shot at Bristol before the Playoffs begin. Enfinger raced at Bristol for the first-time last season and finished fourth.

 

Rookie of the year contender Myatt Snider, another ThorSport Racing teammate, is sitting right underneath the Playoff cut line and is sitting in ninth place in the driver standings. He has one top five and five top-10 finishes and he led 13 laps. He is the highest-ranked rookie in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series right now.

 

And Ben Rhodes, the final teammate for ThorSport Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, is the only driver for the team who has clinched a Playoff spot with a win. He also has five top fives and seven top 10s. Rhodes won at Kentucky after starting third. He also won the pole position twice this season at Martinsville and Eldora.

 

Austin Wayne Self improving, hoping for better finishes

Austin Wayne Self has seven consecutive top-20 finishes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and his Niece Motorsports team is using that as a way to strengthen themselves for this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway. They hope to see those top-20 finishes turn into top-10 finishes.

 

The Niece Motorsports team has shown significant growth since the beginning of the season with more speed and confidence than ever before.

 

Self has qualified in the top 15 in the three of the last four races and has had some positive results at Michigan in the past. His best start came at Eldora, where he lined up in 11th place and for a small team, those are the positive results that they hope for. Self’s best finishes were at Kansas and Chicago, where he finished 13th.

 

Last year, Self finished in 15th place at Michigan, and in two ARCA Series races he found his way to the top 10 twice, one being a third-place finish for Mason Mitchell Motorsports.

 

Self is currently sitting in 14th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings and has an average finish of 17.4 heading into the Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan.

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

OEM Battle: The manufacturer standings are getting closer and closer each week as the battles on the track continue. With six wins, Chevrolet still leads by eight points over Toyota. Toyota follows in second-place with six wins and Ford is now only 41-points behind the leader with two wins.

 

Owner Standings: GMS Racing is the owner standings leader with the No. 21 truck’s 587 points and four wins. Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 18 and No. 51 take second and third place in the owner standings, respectively. ThorSport Racing is in fourth place followed by Halmar Friesen Racing’s No. 52 rounding out the top five in owner standings.

 

First Timers at Michigan: Like most race weekends, a number of drivers will be set to race on a track they’ve never been to before. This weekend at Michigan International Speedway, 11 of the 34 drivers entered for the Corrigan Oil 200 on Saturday, August 11 (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) have never visited the two-mile oval in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

 

They are: Austin Hill, Todd Gilliland, Myatt Snider, Bo LeMastus, Tate Fogleman, Dalton Sargeant, Justin Fontaine, Spencer Davis, Matt Mills, Timmy Hill and Bayley Currey. This will be Mills’ 2018 Truck Series debut.

 

Michigan International Speedway Quick Facts

Track Length: 2 Miles

Race Length: 200 Miles (100 Laps)

Grandstand Seating Capacity: 72,000

Degree of Banking in Corners: 18 degrees

Degree of Banking on Straights: Front – 12 degrees; Back – 5 degrees

Length of Frontstretch: 3,600 feet

Length of Backstretch: 2,242 feet

Most Wins: 2 (Greg Biffle, Travis Kvapil)
Most Poles: 3 (Matt Crafton)

Most Top Fives: 8 (Kyle Busch)

Most Top 10s: 9 (Kyle Busch)

Most Lead Changes: 20 0(6/12/10)

Fewest Lead Changes: 7 (8/12/17)

Most Leaders: 13 (6/18/05)

Fewest Leaders: 4 (6/16/07)

Most Cautions: 8 (2 times, most recently 6/17/06)

Fewest Cautions: 1 (2 times, most recently 8/16/14)

Most Caution Laps: 29 (2 times, most recently 8/17/13)

Fewest Caution Laps: 6 (8/27/16)

Most Wins by a Manufacturer: 6 (Toyota)

Closest Margin of Victory: 0.005 seconds (6/14/08)

Greatest Margin of Victory: 11.477 seconds (7/26/03)

 

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