Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reminisces About His Time At Michigan

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. & Trevor Bayne
This weekend marks the last time the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., will compete in the series at Michigan International Speedway.

And while Michigan is one of many tracks Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be saying good-bye to this season, he thinks the 2-mile track in the Irish Hills is one of the best.

“This place here is, to me, the standard for the 1.5-mile or 2-mile race track,” he said on Friday, two days before the Pure Michigan 400. “This place is so much fun to race on for a driver. It’s a great race track.”

Some of Junior’s fondest memories from his racing career came at Michigan. And they’re not all wins. He won here twice in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and twice in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. But one of his strongest memories comes from a race he lost—the 1999 IROC race, the end of which he has rewatched numerous times. Unfortunately, the outcome has never changed!

Coming out of Turn 4 toward the checkered flag, he and his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., were battling for the win. Rusty Wallace came up behind them. Wallace could have pushed Junior to the win—which would have been poetically perfect, Junior said.

Wallace and Earnhardt Sr. flipped between friends and rivals throughout their careers. That was true on and off the track. If one of them bought a plane, the other one bought a bigger plane. So Junior thought that if Wallace pushed the son past the father for the win, Wallace would have been able to hold that over Earnhardt Sr.’s head forever. But Wallace didn’t get behind either one of them, and the elder Earnhardt won the race.

Junior said, half-jokingly, that he’s still mad at Wallace, 19 years later, for not helping him!


Blaney Dominates Practice, But Will Start 12th At Michigan

Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/SKF team were a couple of bobbles away from sweeping the day on Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

Blaney was fastest in practice with a best lap at 203.591 miles per hour. Then in qualifying, he topped the first two rounds with laps at 201.686 mph in the first round and 203.120 mph in the second.

But in the third and final round he had to back off the gas after getting loose in Turn One. From that point on, any hope of winning the pole was lost and he wound up in 12th place after a lap at 201.235 mph.

“I just got loose over there [in Turn One],” Blaney said in his post-qualifying comments. “You lose time in one corner, and you can’t make it up.”

Still, it was the 16th time in 23 tries this season that he’s earned a starting spot of 12th or better.

“I’m proud of the first two rounds,” Blaney said. “We didn’t tighten the car up for the last round.”

And the fast times he turned on Friday have him feeling good about the rest of the Michigan weekend.

“We have good speed in our car,” he said. “Hopefully we should be able to drive up through everybody in the race.”

Team Penske, which shares a technical alliance with the Wood Brothers and their Motorcraft/SKFteam, swept the front row with Brad Keselowski taking the pole and Joey Logano earning the outside pole.


Keselowski Will Lead Them To The Green Flag At Michigan

Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski will start on the pole for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, after taking the top spot from fellow Ford driver Ryan Blaney, who had posted the fastest times to that point, but bobbled twice in his run in the final qualifying round on Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

Keselowski grew up in Rochester Hills, Mich., a Detroit suburb 99 miles from Michigan International Speedway. He is a big fan of Detroit and University of Michigan sports teams and long has said how badly he wants to win at MIS. He has five top fives, but no wins at his home track. He has often said that a win here would be of similar importance to winning the biggest races in the sport. He joked that if he followed up today’s success with a win on Sunday that the victory celebration would be the type for which he has to ask for forgiveness.

“When I saw that we were going to win the pole, those last few seconds of qualifying, it sent chills down my body. It’s a special track for me to have any kind of success at,” he said.

Clouds moving in and out affected the speeds dramatically—the more clouds, the faster the cars go. Because of changes in the cloud cover, and the fact his team had made last-second changes to the car, Keselowski was skeptical when he pulled onto the track for his final lap. But the changes made his car faster, and his time of 35.451 (203.097 mph) stood up as the best of the final 12. It is the 14th Coors Light pole of his career, his second of 2017 and his first in 17 tries at Michigan.

“A driver’s home track, where his family and friends are all present, it just feels like a bigger event. Michigan, for me, feels like a bigger event,” Keselowski said. “You want to make those people proud when you have the opportunity. When you have the smallest sliver of success, it feels magnified. It feels bigger. That’s what today is for me.”

Keselowski will be joined on the front row by his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano. Keselowski is locked into the playoffs, but Logano isn’t. He is 18th in points and an insurmountable 95 points out of the 16th and final playoff spot. With just four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races left in the regular season, he is in a must-win situation.

“I think you do get a little bit desperate,” Logano said following qualifying on Friday at Michigan. “You’ve got to win. There is no second option, so the intensity is very, very high. You have to be on-point all the time. Every change has to be a good one. Every lap has to be a good one.”

Earlier this season, Logano finished third and Keselowski finished 16th at Michigan.

It will be an all Team Penske front row for the Pure Michigan 400.


“Young Money” Will Have A Full Weekend!

Kyle Larson
After a dominating win on Wednesday night at the Knoxville Nationals, Kyle Larson faced a dilemma. He had qualified for the prestigious A-main finals of one of the premiere dirt races in the world. The problem was the race was set for Saturday night, and his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series forbids him from racing on dirt the day before he has to drive the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, be it qualifying, practice or the race.

On Thursday, he appeared with Ganassi at an event in downtown Detroit unveiling the Camaro ZL1 as Chevrolet’s entry in next year’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. On the drive to the airport afterward, Larson tried to talk Ganassi into allowing an exception. The team owner voiced his concerns—the contract language exists to make sure Larson is fresh and to give the team time to find a replacement if he gets injured.

With Larson and other team officials pleading Larson’s case, Ganassi ultimately relented, and now Larson will race in the event in Knoxville, Iowa on Saturday to try to put an exclamation point at the end of what he calls his favorite week of racing of the year. He finished fifth in the event last year. “I’m thankful for Chip to even allow me to do what I get to do right now,” Larson says. “It’s especially nice that he’s making an exception for Saturday night.”

Larson expects to fly to Iowa after his responsibilities at Michigan International Speedway end on Saturday afternoon. He will race at night and fly back to Michigan after that. He doesn’t have to be anywhere at MIS until 11:30 Sunday morning. “I’ll still be able to get plenty of sleep and be ready,” he said.

Larson has won two races in a row at Michigan.

“Young Money” could be flying back to Michigan Saturday night $150,000.00 richer, if he wins the feature at Knoxville!


Clint Bowyer Is Feeling The Playoff Pressure

Clint Bowyer
Clint Bowyer enters Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway 17th in points, 28 behind Matt Kenseth for the final playoff spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points race. To qualify for the postseason, he must either pass Kenseth and hope nobody below him wins, or win himself.

With four races left until the postseason starts, intensity is amped-up at Michigan International Speedway, the 2-mile oval an hour-plus from the birthplace of America’s automotive industry.

“There’s always pressure,” Bowyer said. “There’s pressure in the Daytona 500 to go out there and perform and try to win that race. It’s no different now. You still focus on the task at hand. You focus on unloading a fast racecar, making good downforce, making good horsepower.”

But a fast car that handles well might not be enough. Bowyer and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford team will likely take big chances to try to steal a win. “I’m the hunter not the hunted, so it’s a lot of fun to go into this weekend knowing that you’ve got to go out there and chase that guy down, or chase those guys down and hopefully pop off a win here.”

In Bowyer’s 23 series starts at Michigan, he has posted 11 top-10 finishes.


Furniture Row Racing Reviews Their Qualifying Efforts At Michigan

Martin Truex, Jr and Erik Jones
Erik Jones qualified sixth and his Furniture Row Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. qualified 13th for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Jones will line up his No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota on the outside of Row 4 after a pole-round lap of 35.678 seconds at 201.805 mph around the 2-mile oval.

“It was a good effort for the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, starting eighth on the outside so that hopefully bodes well for a strong day for us Sunday,” said Jones. “We’re going out there for a win so everything we do, all the calls we make, are going to be more aggressive. We have to take risks on the strategy side, I have to take risks on the race track just to put ourselves in position for a win. Obviously, track position is king here at Michigan so I’m just going to try to get out front and, hopefully, a great car and great strategy will get us that win.”

Truex will line up the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota on the inside of Row 7 after a second-round lap of 35.774 at 201.263. It’s just the fifth time in 23 races this season that Truex and the No. 78 team haven’t advanced to the pole round in qualifying.


Christopher Bell Could Rack Up His Fifth Victory At Michigan

Christopher Bell

No driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is running better than Christopher Bell right now.

The Oklahoman has won three of the last six six races, including two of the last three. In 12 starts this season, Bell boasts four wins, eight top fives, 11 top 10s and a 5.6 average finish. He ranks first in the Camping World Truck Series standings – 18 points ahead of second-place Johnny Sauter.

Bell will go for a fifth victory in Saturday’s LTI Printing 200 at Michigan International Speedway. He finished 24th in his lone start at the two-mile track last year after an incident on Lap 75.

“I ran really well at Michigan last year until I crashed going for the lead late in the race, so I’m looking forward to going back there this year and trying to redeem myself,” Bell said. “Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) had a really fast Tundra there last year with William (Byron) – he and I worked really well together and were able to stay up front most of the race. Michigan is a place that you can’t really drive away from people, so you have to make sure that your truck handles well in the draft. Using all the aero techniques that you have in your arsenal is going to be the key to success this weekend.”

Can Bell “park it” this week in Michigan?


Chase Elliott Has His Eyes On The Pure Michigan 400 Trophy

Chase Elliott
When Chase Elliott travels to Michigan International Speedway, he must feel like Sisyphus – the king in Greek mythology forced to roll a boulder up a hill, and when he reaches the pinnacle, the boulder rolls off, forcing him to repeat the process for all of eternity!

The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver has made three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts in the Wolverine State and has finished second all three times.

“It’s great,” Elliott said about the two-mile track, which hosts Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400. “It’s also frustrating to have run second every time we have been there. It’s good I guess that we are inside the top five the past few times we have been there, but at the same time that is frustrating to have been pretty close to having a shot to win there, which would have been very big if we could have pulled that out.

Elliott enters Sunday’s contest coming off a series of solid, yet unspectacular performances. He placed 13th last week at Watkins Glen, 10th at Pocono, 39th at Indianapolis due to engine trouble and 11th at New Hampshire. Still he ranks 14th on the playoff grid, 39 points ahead of Clint Bowyer on the cutoff line. Elliott has little margin of error when it comes to making the postseason, but can guarantee himself a playoff berth by grabbing a win at Michigan.

“I like Michigan, I’ve always liked going up there,” Elliott said. “I really love that area. It’s just a cool part of the United States to go to. I like it up there – it’s a nice area and that is kind of why I like going.”

Could this be the weekend that Chase parks the No. 24 squarely in Victory Lane?


John Hunter Nemechek Prepares For The LTi Printing 200

Johnunter Nemechek

Event: LTI Printing 200
Date: Saturday, August 12, 2017
Venue: Michigan International SpeedwayNEMCO Motorsports’ NASCAR Camping World Truck Series History at the Michigan International Speedway … This weekend will mark NEMCO Motorsports’ fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the 2-mile D-shaped track located in the Irish Hills of Michigan. The organization earned a team best finish of 10th-place at the Brooklyn, Mich.,-facility with Joe Nemechek on August 16, 2014. Three starts at the Michigan International Speedway have earned NEMCO Motorsports an average starting position of 17.3 and an average finish of 16.0.

NEMCO Motorsports’ NASCAR Camping World Truck Series History … Since entering the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 1995, the Mooresville, N.C.,-based organization has logged 111 starts from five drivers, resulting in strong performances that include six victories (Watkins Glen, Chicago, Atlanta, Canada, Gateway, and Iowa) and 26 top-five finishes, as well as 53 top-10 finishes with an average starting position of 13.9 and an average finishing position of 12.9.

Collective NEMCO Motorsports … In the season’s first 12 events, NEMCO Motorsports’ two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entries have posted two victories (Gateway and Iowa), seven top-five and seven top-10 finishes. The NEMCO Motorsports-prepared Chevrolet Silverados have completed 2,136 total laps and lead 92 of those laps. John Hunter Nemechek and Joe Nemechek rank fifth and 25th respectively in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver points.

All in the Family … Team owner Joe Nemechek has one top-10 finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) in 11 starts at the Michigan International Speedway – all as a driver-owner. In addition, Nemechek has had 41 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) starts at the track since 1993, including one pole award (2005), four top-10 finishes and 32 laps led. One start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series resulted in a 10th-place finish in 2014 for Nemechek.

Follow NEMCO Motorsports on Social Media … To keep up-to-date with the latest news, information and exclusive content, visit NEMCO Motorsports’ Twitter page – @NEMCOMotorsport. Also, follow the NEMCO Motorsports drivers on their personal Twitter pages – @FrontRowJoe87 and @JHNemechek. You can also “like” Joe Nemechek on his official Facebook page at /NASCARJoe, and John Hunter Nemechek on his official Facebook page at /JohnHunterNemechek.

Meet John Hunter Nemechek … Fans can visit the Team Chevy Racing display located in the midway at the Michigan International Speedway for a question and answer session with John Hunter Nemechek on Friday, August 11 at 5:00 p.m. (ET).

Catch the Action … The LTI Printing 200 will be broadcast live on FS1 on Saturday, August 12 starting with the pre-race show at12:30 p.m. (ET). It will also broadcast live at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Qualifying for the 13th event of the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule will air on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. (ET) on FS1. In addition, both practice sessions on Friday, August 11 will be televised live on FS1 with the first session starting at 1:00 p.m. (ET), and the final practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at 3:00 p.m. (ET).

The LTI Printing 200 at the Michigan International Speedway will re-air on Sunday, August 13 at 12:30 a.m. (ET) on FOX Sports 2, and at 9:00 a.m. (ET) on FS1.

John Hunter Nemechek

No. 8 Fire Alarm Services, Inc., Chevrolet Silverado

This Week’s NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado at the Michigan International Speedway … John Hunter Nemechek will pilot Chassis No. 037 in the LTI Printing 200 at the Michigan International Speedway. The Gere Kennon-led team last unloaded this NEMCO Motorsports prepared chassis at the Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on July 29 where Nemechek finished in the fourth-position after starting in the sixth-position in the chassis’ second appearance of the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. Since 2015, Chassis No. 037 has an average finishing position of 9.7 in seven starts, and proved to be a winning chassis with a victory at the Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway with Nemechek in 2015.

Sound the Alarm … The NEMCO Motorsports No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado returns with the Fire Alarm Services, Inc., (FAS) brand as the primary sponsor at the Michigan International Speedway. Headquartered in Arvada, Colorado, Fire Alarm Services, Inc., provides superior fire and life safety and security services and products for protecting their client’s real estate investment.

Local Connection … The NEMCO Motorsports No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado will carry the Business Machines Company, Inc., (BMC) brand as an associate partner on Saturday, August 12 at the Michigan International Speedway. Headquartered in Lansing, Mich., Business Machines Company, Inc., provides services and hardware and software solutions for the grocery, restaurant and retail industries. Founded in 1958, the Business Machines Company, Inc. expansion continues from the Great Lakes Region.

Rolling into the Irish Hills … This weekend marks John Hunter Nemechek’s third Michigan International Speedway appearance with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The Mooresville, N.C., driver has earned an average starting position of 16.5 and an average finishing position of 19.0 at the Brooklyn, Mich.,-facility. He made his track debut on August 15, 2015.

Race Rewind: Michigan International Speedway … John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the No. 8 Business Machines Company (BMC) / Melling Performance Chevrolet Silverado for NEMCO Motorsports, finished in the 26th-place in the Careers For Veterans 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the Michigan International Speedway on August 27, 2016, after a late-race accident eliminated him from contention. Nemechek started in the 16th-postion, and by Lap 10 he was scored in the seventh-place. The 19 year-old patiently logged laps until Lap 61, when a competitor made contact with Nemechek’s No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado, forcing it toward the wall and resulting in a blown tire. On Lap 63 Nemechek came to pit road going directly to the garage, but the damage ultimately ended Nemechek’s day.

In the Rearview Mirror: Pocono Raceway … John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the No. 8 Fire Alarm Services, Inc., Chevrolet Silverado for NEMCO Motorsports, scored a fourth-place finish in the Overton’s 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday, July 29 at the Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Nemechek started sixth and flexed some muscle early, finishing Stage 1 on Lap 15 in the seventh position, and advancing to sixth-place at the end of Stage 2 on Lap 30. He took the lead on Lap 45 and led nine circuits before relinquishing the top spot to the eventual race winner on Lap 54. It was Nemechek’s sixth top-five result this season and his first top-five in three career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at the Pocono Raceway.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs … With his win at the Gateway Motorsports Park on June 17, John Hunter Nemechek claimed NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff eligibility with a victory during the regular season. Nemechek is second in the Playoff standings, with two wins and 11 playoff points.

Season-to-date … Through the first 12 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races of the 2017 season, John Hunter Nemechek has completed 1650 of 1868 laps contested (88.3 percent) and has led 92 laps. Nemechek is currently fifth in the driver point standings and fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner points. In addition, the NEMCO Motorsports driver has collected two victories (Gateway and Iowa), six top-five and six top-10 finishes, has spent 1,339 laps running in the top 15 and has made 402 green-flag passes thus far this season.


McDowell and LFR Looks To Extend Their Top 20 Finishes

Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) look to continue their streak of Top-20 finishes at Michigan International Speedway fresh off their best finish together at Watkins Glen.

 Though LFR and McDowell recorded their best finish at Michigan during the last trip there in June, they look to earn their fourth Top-20 finish in a row at the two-mile, D-shaped track.

 LFR and McDowell also plan on running a new package at MIS, which will focus more on the down force of the car, as they struggled in their only second race as a team at Michigan earlier this season.

 “Michigan was one of the more difficult races for us this season,” said McDowell. “I think everyone in the RCR alliance as a whole, struggles a little there. We have put a lot of emphasis on doing something different when we go back this weekend and trying to get a package that works there. Obviously, down force is a big part of racing at Michigan, so we are just focusing on doing something different and making some gains.”

 During the team’s last trip to Michigan, McDowell earned both his best starting position of 22nd and finishing position of 23rd.

 McDowell will also be attending the unveiling of the new 2018 Chevrolet model on Thursday, August 10 in Detroit, Michigan.

 “I’m really honored to be invited to the unveiling of the 2018 Chevy,” said McDowell. “This is an exciting time for both the sport of NASCAR and our manufacturer. We can’t wait to see what we will be driving next year!”

 The Pure Michigan 400 will take place on Sunday, August 13 at 3PM ET. Race fans can tune-in to NBCSN for live race coverage beginning at 2:30PM ET and follow @LFR95 on Twitter for updates.