Erik Jones Thinks Aggressive Strategy Will Pay Off At Michigan

Erik Jones
The aggressive race strategy the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota team has developed throughout the season is something driver Erik Jones believes can pay off in a big way Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

The Byron, Mich., native heads into the Pure Michigan 400 weekend in 18th place in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings with just four races remaining in the 26-race regular season. The need for a win in his rookie season is now paramount above earning his way into the playoffs in the point standings.

“We feel like we’ve been pretty aggressive on strategy pretty much every week and trying to give ourselves the best shot to win,” said Jones. “We’ve still gotten some good finishes out of it, but I definitely feel like we’re more aggressive on strategy than we were the first part of the year.  I think when you look at the schedule we feel like we’ve got some good tracks coming up. Michigan will be a good one for us. We’re not looking for top 10s. We’re looking to try to go out there and snag a win.”

Despite growing just 70 miles north of the 2-mile speedway in Brooklyn, Jones didn’t attend too many races there. What he may not have known at the time was he was preparing to compete twice annually at Michigan International Speedway.

“I didn’t go to MIS a ton when I was a kid” said Jones. “I actually only went a few times because we were racing. You know, I did go down there a few times. It was always just my dad and I, so that’s always a fun memory for me to look back on and think about. Obviously my dad was a race fan, and to share that time with him down there was pretty fun.

“My first truck race there (started seventh, finished third in August 2015) was a cool day, as well.  That was my first time ever at MIS (as a competitor), so I always kind of remember that day and hold it a little special. Just first race, the home track, it’s always kind of cool. I felt like I had to wait forever to get to run there with the age restrictions of NASCAR, but it was really cool to make my first start there.”

Jones has seen the improvement of both his Furniture Row Racing 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength team and that of manufacturer Toyota.

“Toyota has really come around here this part of the season I feel like,” said Jones. “We’ve been really strong now for about the last month.  We’ve had some really fast 5-hour ENERGY Toyotas and had an opportunity to win as a whole a number of races.  Being in fast race cars is always a welcome opportunity, obviously, and the start of the year we had fast race cars, but they just weren’t — I wouldn’t say they were near as good as they are now.”

The 21-year old is second in the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. His 203 points are 23 behind Daniel Suarez (226) and 31 ahead of third-place Ty Dillon (172).

The 200-lap 400-mile Pure Michigan 400 will consist of three stages of 60/60/80 laps (laps 60/120/200).

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Cody Coughlin Feels Confident Coming To Michigan

Cody Coughlin

Team Stats:

Driver Point Standings: 13th

Owner Point Standings: 14th

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Contender

2017 Stage Wins: 0

2017 Stage Bonus Points: 1

2017 Playoff Points: 0

Chatting with Cody Coughlin:

Does racing at a track like Michigan International Speedway give you confidence considering you have quite a few laps around the two-mile oval in both the ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and you are coming off a career-best finish at Pocono?

“We had a strong run going last year at Michigan and broke a transmission, so I’m very confident going into this weekend. Hopefully, we can contend for a win – that’s the goal.”

News & Notes:

  • Chassis Chatter… The No. 13 ThorSport Racing (TSR) team will unload chassis No. 57 for Saturday’s LTi Printing 200 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). This is the same chassis Cody Coughlin piloted to a 16th-place finish at both Atlanta Motor Speedway and Dover International Raceway, earlier this season.

  • Michigan Minute… Coughlin has four previous starts at MIS; two in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, and two in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS).

  • Chasing Rookie of the Year… Coughlin, who finished a career-best eighth in the series’ last stop at Pocono Raceway, is currently seventh in the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle, after 12 of 23 races.

  • Truck Series Stats… Coughlin has made 24 NCWTS starts since 2015, with a career-best start of seventh at Talladega (Al.) Superspeedway (2016), and a career-best finish of eighth at Pocono Raceway (2017).

  • Rearview Mirror – Pocono… Coughlin started 13th in the Overton’s 150 at Pocono Raceway, ran as high as eighth, and finished a career-best eighth in the 60-lap event.

  • Catch Cody at Michigan… Coughlin, along with his RIDE TV teammate, Grant Enfinger, will appear at the RIDE TV display in the Fan Zone on Friday, August 11from 4:45-5:15 p.m. ET.

Coughlin’s Michigan NCWTS Stats:

  • Starts: 2, since 2014

  • Laps Completed: 191 of 200 (95.0%)

  • Laps Led: 0

  • Best Start: 10th (2016)

  • Best Finish: 20th (2015 & 2016)

  • Top-5 Finishes: 0

  • Top-10 Finishes: 0

  • Average Start: 14.0

  • Average Finish: 20.0

Coughlin’s Michigan ARCA Stats:

  • Starts: 2, since 2015

  • Laps Completed: 190 of 200 (95.5%)

  • Laps Led: 0

  • Best Start: 6th (2014)

  • Best Finish: 13th (2014)

  • Top-5 Finishes: 0

  • Top-10 Finishes: 0

  • Average Start: 8.0

  • Average Finish: 13.5

Michigan Stages:

  • Stage 1 – 30 laps (concludes at lap 30)

  • Stage 2 – 30 laps (concludes at lap 60)

  • Stage 3 – 40 laps (concludes at lap 100)

Broadcast Schedule – Michigan:

LTI Printing 200Saturday, August 12 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, SiriusXM, MRN

Keystone Light Pole QualifyingSaturday, August 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET on FS1, SiriusXM, MRN

Race Information:

Date: Saturday, August 12. 2017

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX and MRN

Track: 2-mile D-shaped oval

Distance: 100 Laps, 2000 miles

Social: @MISpeedway #LTI200

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Grant Enfinger Fells Dubious About Previous Michigan Seat Time

Grant Enfinger

Team Information:

Driver Point Standings: 8th

Owner Point Standings: 10th

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Contender

2017 Stage Wins: 0

2017 Stage Bonus Points: 57

2017 Playoff Points: 0

Sounding Off – Grant Enfinger:

Do you think the added seat time from your five ARCA Racing Series starts, combined with your NCWTS start in 2016, will be an advantage over the other rookies in the field on Saturday

“At most tracks, I feel like seat time in the ARCA Series has helped me get a feel of the track, even though the cars drive a good bit differently than the trucks. Michigan however, is it’s on style of truck race. I don’t think the ARCA laps will help, but my experience racing the truck last year will definitely be a benefit. Michigan is in between a super speedway track, and an intermediate track for the Truck Series. We use the draft a lot, but you still need a good handling truck to be able to drive around other trucks. I finished eighth at MIS last year, and learned a lot. Jeff (Hensley, crew chief) has run really well there, and he won this race a few years ago with (Johnny) Sauter, so we are looking forward to this one. I’m happy to have Champion Power Equipment back on board again for the next two races, and look for solid runs as we head into the Playoffs.”

News & Notes:

  • Chassis Chatter… The No. 98 ThorSport Racing (TSR) team will unload chassis No. 52 forSaturday’s LTi Printing 200 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). This is the same chassis Grant Enfinger piloted to a fourth-place finish at Iowa Speedway, and a third-place finish at Dover International Speedway, earlier this season.

  • Michigan Minute… Enfinger has six starts at MIS since 2010. Included in those six starts are five ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards starts (2010-2015), and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start (2016). In his lone NCWTS start at the 2.0-mile D-shaped oval, Enfinger started 9th, completed 100 percent of the scheduled laps, and finished eighth.

  • Playoff Status… Enfinger has four races remaining on the 2017 NCWTS schedule to lock his No. 98 Champion Power Equipment Toyota Tundra into the first round of the Playoffs, which kicks-off at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September. With the top-8 drivers moving on, the ThorSport Racing driver is currently on the outside looking in, by a mere four points. Enfinger is currently 8th in the NCWTS driver point standings, but seeded ninth in the Playoff standings entering the 13th race on the 2017 NCWTS schedule.

  • Rookie Stripe: Enfinger is currently second in the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, a mere nine points behind leader Chase Briscoe, after 12 of 23 races this season.

  • Race Rewind – Pocono…. In his track debut at Pocono Raceway in the NCWTS, the ThorSport Racing driver started 12th, finished ninth in Stage 1, 17th in Stage 2, and 13th in the Overton’s 150, due to a left-rear tire issue late in the 60-lap event.

  • Catch Grant at Michigan…Enfinger, and ThorSport Racing teammate Cody Coughlin, will be at the RIDE TV display in the MIS Fan Zone on Friday, August 11 from 4:45-5:15 p.m.

Enfinger’s Michigan ARCA Stats:

  • Starts: 5, since 2010

  • Laps Completed: 451 of 500 (90.2%)

  • Laps Led: 46

  • Best Start: 6th (2015)

  • Best Finish: 5th (2013)

  • Top-5 Finishes: 1

  • Top-10 Finishes: 3

  • Average Start: 10.6

  • Average Finish: 14.0

Enfinger’s 2017 NCWTS Stats:

  • Starts: 12

  • Wins: 0

  • Poles: 0

  • Laps Completed: 1758 of 1868 (94.1%)

  • Laps Led: 23

  • Top-5 Finishes: 5

  • Top-10 Finishes: 7

  • Average Start: 11.4

  • Average Finish: 9.9

Enfinger’s Career NCWTS stats:

  • Starts: 26, since 2010

  • First Start: Talladega (2010)

  • First Full-time Season: 2017

  • Poles: 1 (Daytona, 2016)

  • Wins: 1 (Talladega, 2016)

  • Top-5 Finishes: 7

  • Top-10 Finishes: 12

  • Laps Completed: 3,413

  • Laps Led: 73

  • Avg. Start: 12.2

  • Avg. Finish: 12.2

Michigan Stages:

  • Stage 1 – 30 laps (concludes at lap 30)

  • Stage 2 – 30 laps (concludes at lap 60)

  • Stage 3 – 40 laps (concludes at lap 100)

Broadcast Schedule – Michigan:

LTI Printing 200Saturday, August 12 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, SiriusXM, MRN

Keystone Light Pole QualifyingSaturday, August 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET on FS1, SiriusXM, MRN

Race Information:

Date: Saturday, August 12. 2017

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX and MRN

Track: 2-mile D-shaped oval

Distance: 100 Laps, 2000 miles

Social: @MISpeedway #LTI200

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Matt Crafton Has A Strong Record At Michigan

Matt Crafton

Stats:

2017 Driver Point Standings: 4th

2017 Owner Point Standings: 4th

2017 Stage Wins: 2

2017 Stage Points: 121

2017 Playoff Points: 7

Sounding Off – Matt Crafton:

You’ve been pretty strong at Michigan in the past. Has the track aged at all since the repave?

“Before they repaved it you could run all over the place. Then they paved it, and the racing groove got narrow. The groove is widening out – the inside lane is a little bit faster now – and there is some passing. The first year we were there, it was really bad, and you couldn’t move two feet out of the groove – you were slippin’ and slidin’. It’s gotten a little bit better, for sure. I know restarts will be tricky, and drafting partners will be key. Michigan is a home-track, per se, for ThorSport Racing, so hopefully we can put on another great show this weekend for all of our friends, family, and employees that are coming out to the race.”

News & Notes:

  • Chassis Chatter… The No. 88 ThorSport Racing (TSR) team will unload chassis No. 58 for Saturday’s LTi Printing 200 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). This is the same chassis Matt Crafton piloted to a ninth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, and an eighth-place finish at Kentucky Speedway, earlier this season.

  • Michigan Minute… Crafton has 15 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) starts at MIS. In fact, among active series drivers, Crafton has the most starts, has the most pole awards (2), has completed the most laps (1382), and has the most lead lap finishes (11).

  • Playoff Status… Following Crafton’s first win of the 2017 NCWTS season at Eldora Speedway, the ThorSport Racing driver has locked himself into the first round of the Playoffs, that kicks-off at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September. Crafton was in the inaugural Chase in 2016, finishing third overall.

  • Take Me Back – Michigan, 2016…Making his 15th career start at MIS, Crafton qualified second, led the field four times, for 23 laps, and finished seventh in the rain delayed event.

  • Rearview Mirror – Pocono… Starting ninth, Crafton finished fifth in Stage 1, 16th in Stage 2, and sixth in the Overton’s 150 at Pocono Raceway.

Crafton’s Michigan Stats:

  • Starts: 15, since 2010

  • Laps Completed: 1382 of 1504 (91.9%)

  • Laps Led: 53

  • Poles: 2 (2011 & 2015)

  • Wins: 0

  • Top-5 Finishes: 3

  • Top-10 Finishes: 6

  • Average start: 10.5

  • Average finish: 14.7

Crafton’s Career Truck Series Stats:

  • Starts: 396, since 2000

  • Wins: 14

  • Top-five Finishes: 100

  • Top-10 finishes: 234

  • Poles: 12

  • Laps Completed: 61,149

  • Laps Led: 2231

  • Average start: 12.5

  • Average finish: 11.4

Michigan Stages:

  • Stage 1 – 30 laps (concludes at lap 30)

  • Stage 2 – 30 laps (concludes at lap 60)

  • Stage 3 – 40 laps (concludes at lap 100)

Broadcast Schedule – Michigan:

LTI Printing 200Saturday, August 12 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, SiriusXM, MRN

Keystone Light Pole QualifyingSaturday, August 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET on FS1, SiriusXM, MRN

Race Information:

Date: Saturday, August 12. 2017

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX and MRN

Track: 2-mile D-shaped oval

Distance: 100 Laps, 2000 miles

Social: @MISpeedway #LTI200

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Landon Cassill Talks About Michigan

Landon Cassill

Cassill on Michigan

“I’m excited to get back to Michigan. It’s kind of a new build of cars for us this time around. So, hopefully we can see an improved performance over the last couple of months. It’s definitely a race that Seth (Barbour) and my guys have circled on their calendar. So, I’m really looking forward to it.

“This is always a big weekend for Ford. We’ll be visiting with Ford employees at their facilities all day Thursday, and there will be a lot of special guests at the race. We definitely want all the Fords to put on a good show Sunday.”

Meet Landon
Sunday, Aug. 13, 11:45am – Ford Performance display (Michigan International Speedway Fan Zone)

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

David Ragan Previews Michigan

David Ragan

Ragan on Michigan

“Going back to Michigan is exciting for us. Whenever we go back to a track for a second time, we know we can always improve on our race car from the first race.

“This race is in Ford’s backyard, so it always adds a little extra pressure to run well. We have a lot of fun with the weekend. We head up to Michigan early and spend some time at the world headquarters and meet some of the employees. It’s always a good time in the Irish Hills, and we’ll look for a good run with our Overton’s team.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Pure Michigan 400

MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (TWO-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 23 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, AUG. 13 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 LiftMaster Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

Driver Kasey Kahne   Hometown Enumclaw, Washington
Age 37                        Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 19th in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 31 laps led

Career

  • 490 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 173 top-10 finishes
  • 4,638 laps led

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 1 win
  • 3 pole positions
  • 8 top-five finishes
  • 10 top-10 finishes
  • 67 laps led
LIFTMASTER: This weekend, Kasey Kahne looks to lift his position in the point standings at Michigan International Speedway in the No. 5 LiftMaster Chevrolet SS. Michigan marks the third and final time Kahne will pilot the LiftMaster paint scheme this season. He also drove it Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

KAHNE AT MICHIGAN: Three of Kahne’s 27 NASCAR Cup Series pole awards have been earned at Michigan – in 2006, 2010 and 2015. The three pole awards ties Kahne with Joey Logano for the most poles earned by an active driver at the track. In June 2006, the 37-year-old swept the weekend at the Irish Hills track by winning the 129-lap race. He led 19 laps en route to his fifth Cup Series victory, bringing his total laps led at the track to 67.

MICHIGAN LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne ranks second in green-flag passes with 1,974. He’s fourth in quality passes with 878. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green-flag conditions. The Enumclaw, Washington, native is sixth in fastest laps run with 187 and eighth in laps spent in the top 15 with 2,741.

RACING ROOTS: HendrickMotorsports.com has released a four-part video series on Kahne titled “Racing Roots.” The videos take you from Kahne’s early beginnings in Enumclaw, Washington, to being part of Hendrick Motorsports today. The video series also looks at his passion away from the asphalt track – his dirt car team, Kasey Kahne Racing. The video series can be viewed here.

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 21                      Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2017 Season

  • 7th in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 2 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 12 top-10 finishes
  • 182 laps led

Career

  • 63 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 16 top-five finishes
  • 29 top-10 finishes
  • 540 laps led

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 66 laps led
NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS will don the familiar blue-and-yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme. The Atlanta-based company will serve as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 24 team for 24 NASCAR Cup Series races this year. Most recently, Elliott piloted the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy to a 10th-place finish at Pocono Raceway.

MICHIGAN STATS: The 21-year-old driver is set to make his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan this weekend. In each of Elliott’s three previous starts at the two-mile speedway, he collected second-place finishes. In addition to his average finishing position of 2.0, he averages a starting position of 8.3 at the track. In Elliott’s two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Michigan, he collected one top-five finish and two top-10s.

MICHIGAN LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Elliott has the top driver rating at Michigan with an average score of 119.0. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. Elliott also ranks first for average running position at Michigan with a 5.135 average place.

ELLIOTT AT CHEVY STAGE: Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage on Sunday, August 13, at 12:10 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.

WATKINS GLEN REWIND: Elliott posted his best career qualifying effort and raced inside the top 10 for much of last Sunday’s Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International before ultimately finishing 13th after having to pit for fuel in the closing laps. He remains seventh in the driver point standings as the series heads to Michigan.

No. 48 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 41                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 188 laps led

Career

  • 565 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 221 top-five finishes
  • 337 top-10 finishes
  • 18,634 laps led

Track Career 

  • 31 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 13 top-10 finishes
  • 687 laps led
HELMET OF HOPE: This weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson will wear the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope, which features five charities working to improve K-12 public education. As a show of support to Johnson’s efforts to raise funds for such programs, a number of his NASCAR Cup Series competitors will display Jimmie Johnson Foundation-branded decals on the visors of their helmets. Featured on the helmet are the following winning charitable initiatives: Art Feeds in Fayetteville, Arkansas; Edu-Futuro in Arlington, Virginia; Mary J. Treglia Community House in Sioux City, Iowa; School on Wheels of Massachusetts in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts; and The Kids’ Reading Room in Houston.

JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION PAINT OUT: In addition to the Helmet of Hope, Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet will feature the special star logos of the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. Johnson has seen plenty of success running the paint scheme, earning three wins, two top-five finishes and three top-10s. Along with the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program, the foundation operates the Champions Grant program – providing cash grants to schools in the Johnsons’ hometowns and where they currently live – Team Up For Technology, a $48,000 technology makeover open to schools nationwide, and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Fit Fest – a family friendly, event in Charlotte, North Carolina, which features running, mountain biking, obstacle racing, music, food and more.

DRIVER RATING AT MICHIGAN: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Johnson has the fourth-best driver rating at Michigan with an average score of 99.1 since 2005. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points and is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

CALLING ALL KIDS TO CHICAGO: Johnson is hosting a special ticket package for families at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 17. Johnson, Chicagoland and NASA have teamed up for the third consecutive year for a special ticket package that features a youth question-and-answer session. The pricing is $23 for kids 12 and under and $48 for adults. Log on to www.ChicagolandSpeedway.com for more info.

No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 42                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 23rd in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 24 laps led

Career

  • 617 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 256 top-10 finishes
  • 8,211 laps led

Track Career 

  • 35 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 8 top-five finishes
  • 15 top-10 finishes
  • 353 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Aug. 11, at 4:15 p.m. local time in the Michigan International Speedway media center.

SOLID STATS IN THE IRISH HILLS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has scored two wins at Michigan International Speedway. His most recent victory came on June 17, 2012, when he started 17th and led 95 laps before crossing the stripe with a 5.393-second lead to earn the victory. The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has also earned two pole-position starts at the two-mile track, tying his career bests. He also has two poles at Texas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Earnhardt ranks sixth in the driver rating category among active drivers at Michigan with an average of 95.5 since 2005. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. He ranks in the top five in many other loop data categories, such as fastest laps run (fourth – 205 laps), green-flag speed (fifth – 180.173 mph), laps in the top 15 (third – 3,134 laps), laps led (fifth – 289), and quality passes (second – 973 passes).

CONGRATS, AXALTA: Congratulations to Hendrick Motorsports partner Axalta Coating Systems, a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, on being named a GM Supplier of the Year by General Motors during its 25th annual Supplier of the Year awards ceremony held on March 31 in Orlando, Florida. GM recognized 118 of its best suppliers from 15 countries that have consistently exceeded GM’s expectations, created outstanding value or brought new innovations to the company. The announcement represented the most suppliers GM has recognized since debuting the Supplier of the Year event in 1992. This is the third consecutive year Axalta has received the award.

IVES AND OTHER MICHIGANDERS: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives hails from Bark River, Michigan, and grew up working with his father and older brother at the local racetracks. He spent eight years behind the wheel before finding his true calling under the hood. After earning a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Tech, Ives joined the No. 24 team as a shop mechanic before getting the opportunity to be the race engineer on the No. 48 team. After recording five championships with Johnson and the No. 48 group, Ives went to JR Motorsports to crew chief before returning to Hendrick Motorsports to lead the No. 88 team in 2015. You can read more about Ives’ background here. Two additional members of the No. 88 Axalta team call Michigan their home state. Andy “Squigz” Quillan, hauler driver for the No. 88 team, was born and raised in Orleans, Michigan, which is approximately two hours from the racetrack. Scott Brzozowski, the front tire changer for the No. 88 team, grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan, which is outside of Detroit. He was a member of the No. 24 over-the-wall crew before he switched to the No. 88 team last fall.

RIR VICTORY TOUR: On Tuesday, the driver of the No. 88 Chevy visits Richmond for his Victory Tour, where in addition to spending time at the racetrack, Earnhardt is scheduled to visit training camp for his favorite NFL team – the Washington Redskins. Follow Richmond International Raceway’s social media channels for highlights from the tour.

ICYMI, HOMESTEAD CAR UNVEILED: In case you missed it, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, the 14-time most popular driver appeared live on QVC to reveal the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS that he will race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19 as part of his JR Nation #Appreci88ion Tour. The red-and-black Axalta scheme is based on the paint scheme Earnhardt debuted in 1999 when he competed in his first career NASCAR Cup Series race. For photos from the unveil, click here.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MICHIGAN: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have led 2,478 laps en route to eight wins, 52 top-five finishes and 96 top-10s in addition to 11 pole positions at Michigan. The organization swept both races at the two-mile oval in 2014, and in each of the past three events at Michigan, Chase Elliott has earned runner-up finishes.

MASTERING MICHIGAN: Hendrick Motorsports’ eight NASCAR Cup Series victories at Michigan have come via five different drivers: Jeff Gordon (3), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2), Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Ricky Rudd.

TEAM JJF VISOR: All four Hendrick Motorsports teammates will sport a Jimmie Johnson Foundation decal strip on their visors for Sunday’s race at Michigan. After the race, the signed visors will be auctioned off to raise funds for programs in need through the foundation.

ROAD TO RACE DAY: Hendrick Motorsports has teamed with Complex Networks, Film 45 and Markay Media on an original eight-part documentary series that goes behind the scenes with the organization during the 2016 season. New “Road to Race Day” episodes premiere Wednesdays on the go90 streaming platform. Watch for free by downloading the go90 app on your Apple or Android device, or view the series at go90.com.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,022 top-five finishes and 1,721 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,797 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“Michigan is unique because it’s a very fast track and the restarts can be pretty tricky. We’ve had fast cars the past few weeks and have been able to carry some momentum over from the Brickyard win, so I’m looking forward to getting on the track at Michigan. It’s a big weekend for Chevrolet because it’s their home track and they are such great supporters of the racing program.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Michigan

“It’s great. 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. I like Michigan. I’ve always liked going up there. 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.”

Chase Elliott on heading to Michigan

“First, I would like to thank Lowe’s for allowing us to run the Jimmie Johnson Foundation paint scheme. Also, an honor to highlight these five charities making a huge impact on K-12 public education across the country on my Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope. I’m thankful to my competitors who chose to wear the Team JJF visor strips and bring more visibility to our cause. We have had great success with the JJF Chevy in the past and hope to turn things around this weekend in Michigan.”

Jimmie Johnson on his Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevy at Michigan

Kevin Harvick Hopes For A Back-To-Back Top 5 Finishes At Michigan

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick is heading to the Irish Hills of Michigan with Busch Light on the hood of his No. 4 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

Harvick and the No. 4 team’s goal this weekend is to score as many playoff points as possible with just four races remaining before the start of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

The Bakersfield, California native clinched his position in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with his first win of the season at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. He started 12th, led 24 laps and had more than a five-second cushion when the final yellow flag waved to end the race under caution.

The No. 4 team’s one race win and three stage wins account for eight playoff points – tied for seventh-most among Cup Series drivers.

The good news for Harvick and the No. 4 team is that they have been among the best in the series at the 2-mile Michigan oval in recent years, scoring top-five finishes in seven of their last nine starts there.

Harvick scored four consecutive second-place finishes at Michigan from June 2013 through August 2014. He was runner-up to Greg Biffle by 2.989 seconds in June 2013. In August 2013, Harvick finished 1.018 seconds behind Joey Logano. In 2014, he followed Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon across the finish line in the June and August races, respectively. That’s four races, four second-place finishes, to four different drivers.

Harvick scored back-to-back top-five finishes at Michigan in 2016. In June, he started 29th and raced his way to a fifth-place finish. His next start in August, he started fourth, led 33 laps and finished fifth.

However, Harvick and the No. 4 team started 11th and finished 14th in their most recent trip to Michigan in June.

For his career, Harvick has been to victory lane at Michigan in each of NASCAR’s top three national touring series.

He scored an Xfinity Series win at Michigan in August 2003, when he led 10 laps and beat Kasey Kahne to the finish line under caution. His NASCAR Cup Series win came in August 2010, when he led 60 laps and outran Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 1.731 seconds. He scored a Camping World Truck Series win in August 2011, when he led 13 laps and finished ahead of Timothy Peters as the race ended under caution.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion would like to add a fresh Cup Series win to his resumeSunday at Michigan. A win would be Harvick’s second of the 2017 season and would give him much-needed bonus points as the series makes its last push before the start of NASCAR’s 2017 playoffs.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What does it take to have a good finish at Michigan?

“How you finish at Michigan depends on how your day is going. If you’re having a good day, it’s not really hard to tell your guys what you need and everyone is in a good mood. If you’re having a bad day, you can get behind at Michigan really fast. Usually, when you’re hooked up at Michigan, the leaders have clean air and move through traffic pretty well. But, if you’re in the middle of the pack, you find yourself getting behind and going a lap down pretty quickly. You’re going to end up with a green-flag pit stop and a whole bunch of green-flag laps. You just have to be going from the time the green flag drops and keep yourself in position at the end.”

 

Do you enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway?

“I think we’ve finished really well there over the last couple of years and scored a lot of second-place finishes and top-fives. I learned a long time ago that sometimes those things happen, so it’s better to be on a top-five streak than a 10th-place streak. The good thing about the racetrack is that it has definitely aged and the groove has spread out over the last couple of races, so you have a lot more options than you did a few years ago when they repaved it. Every time we go back there, it gets a little more racey. When we go back this time, there should be lots of room to race and you’ll see lots of speed. As we go through the restarts and traffic and different things, we’ll have to see how it all goes, but it should be interesting.”

Busch Light Racing Team Report

Round 23 of 36 – Pure Michigan 400 – Michigan

At-Track PR Contact: Ryan Barry, True Speed Communication (704-500-1553, Ryan.Barry@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
Primary Team Members:

Driver: Kevin Harvick

Hometown: Bakersfield, California

 

Crew Chief: Rodney Childers

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Car Chief: Robert Smith

Hometown: Whitewater, Wisconsin

 

Engine Builder: Roush-Yates Engines

Headquarters: Moorseville, North Carolina

 

Engine Specialist: Robert Brandt

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

 

Spotter: Tim Fedewa

Hometown: Holt, Michigan

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Justin White

Hometown: Lynnville, Tennessee

 

Front Tire Changer: Eric Maycroft

Hometown: Algonquiin, Illinois

 

Second Gas Man: Marc Wulf

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska

 

Front Tire Carrier: Matt Holzbaur

Hometown: New Egypt, New Jersey

 

Windshield: Matthew Custer

Hometown: Bedford, Pennsylvania

 

Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Smith

Hometown: Concord, North Carolina

 

Jackman: Stan Doolittle

Hometown: Ninety Six, South Carolina

 

Rear Tire Carrier: Mike “Shrek” Morneau

Hometown: Oxford, Maine

Road Crew Members:

Truck Drivers: Rick Hodges and Stephen Mitchell

Hometowns: Raleigh, North Carolina, and Woodville, Ohio, respectively

 

Tire Specialist: Dustin Keath

Hometown: Reading, Pennsylvania

 

Shock Specialist: Mike McCarville

Hometown: Kensington, Prince Edward Island, Canada

 

Engineers: Dax Gerringer andBilly Kuebler

Hometowns: Gibsonville, North Carolina, and Saline, Michigan,respectively

 

Mechanics: Richie Bean and Allen Mincey

Hometown: Bradford, Vermont, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida,respectively

 

Fuel Runner: Chris Clayton

Hometown: Modesto, California

Chassis Information – Chassis No. 4-929:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-929 in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Built new in 2016, Chassis No. 4-929 made its debut at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in October, when it won the pole with lap of 27.547 seconds at 196.029 mph, led 12 laps, but failed to finish the race due to a mechanical issue. It made its second appearance in the 2016 season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, when it won a second consecutive pole with a lap of 30.399 seconds at 177.637 mph. In its 2017 debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March, Harvick won his third consecutive pole with chassis 4-929 with a lap of 29.118 seconds at 190.398 mph in the final round of qualifying. He went on to dominate the majority of the event, leading 292 of 325 laps before suffering a pit-road penalty that led to a ninth-place finish. Its second race of the season came at Kansas, where Harvick started eighth, led 10 laps and finished third. In its most recent appearance, Harvick started 11th and finished 14th at Michigan in June.

 

Michigan International Speedway Notes of Interest:
· Earning It Since 2014: Harvick is in his 17th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and his fourth at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with crew chief Rodney Childers at the helm. Since joining forces in 2014, Harvick and Childers combined to produce 13 victories, 14 poles, 62 top-five finishes and 89 top-10s; led 6,360 laps; won the 2014 Cup Series title; finished runner-up in 2015 to champion Kyle Busch and eighth in 2016.

 

· Points Position: Harvick arrives at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for the Pure Michigan 400 ranked fourth in the standings with 746 points after his 17th-place finish last weekend at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. He trails leader Martin Truex Jr. by 135 points.

 

· Playoff Bound: Harvick clinched his position in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs as he scored his first Cup Series win of the season at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. He started 12th, led 24 laps and had more than a five-second cushion when the final yellow flag waved to end the race under caution.

 

· Playoff Points: Harvick and the No. 4 team have scored one race win and three stage wins to account for eight playoff points – tied for seventh-most among Cup Series drivers.

 

· Harvick in the NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan: Harvick will make his 34th NASCAR Cup Series start Sunday at Michigan. Harvick’s lone win at Michigan came in 2010, when he started eighth, led 60 laps and beat Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 1.731 seconds. He also won the pole at Michigan in June 2014 with a speed of 204.557 mph. His Michigan resume shows one win, one pole, 10 top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and 323 laps led with an average finish of 12.7. He has finished in the top-five in seven of his last nine starts at the 2-mile oval, including five runner-up finishes.

 

· Harvick at Michigan in the Xfinity Series: In 10 starts at Michigan in the Xfinity Series, Harvick has one win, four top-five finishes and eight top-10s. His lone win came in August 2003, when he started fifth, led 10 laps and beat runner-up Kasey Kahne when the race ended under caution.

 

· Harvick at Michigan in the Camping World Truck Series: Harvick has four starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Michigan. In his most recent Truck Series start there in August 2011, he started sixth, led 13 laps and was leading runner-up Timothy Peters when the race ended under caution. In addition to that win, he has two top-five finishes and three top-10s. He has led 24 laps with an average finish of sixth.

 

· All-Time Wins List: After his 36th career Cup Series win at Sonoma in June, Harvick is ranked 22nd on the all-time wins list. His next Cup Series win will move him into a tie with Bobby Isaac for 21st on the all-time list. Among active drivers, Harvick ranks fourth behind leader Jimmie Johnson’s 83 career wins, Kyle Busch’s 39 wins, and Matt Kenseth who has 38 victories.

 

· On The Pole: Harvick has scored three Cup Series pole awards in 2017 – all coming on 1.5-mile racetracks. He scored his first of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a lap of 29.118 seconds at 190.398 mph. His second of the season came at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, when he made a lap at 27.217 seconds at 198.405 mph. His most recent came at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 with a lap of 27.918 seconds at 193.424 mph.

 

· All-Time Pole List: Harvick’s 20 career Cup Series poles has him tied with Benny Parsons and Neil Bonnett for 39th on the all-time list. His next Cup Series pole would move him into a four-way tie with Dick Hutcherson and SHR teammate Kurt Busch. He ranks seventh among active drivers behind Ryan Newman’s 51, Johnson’s 35, Kasey Kahne’s 27, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch each have 24, and Kurt Busch’s 21.

 

· Closing In on 11,000 Lap Led: Harvick also needs 214 laps led to become the 17th Cup Series driver of all time to lead 11,000 or more laps. Johnson, Kyle Busch and Kenseth are the only active drivers to accomplish the feat.

 

· Closing In on 300 Top-10s: Harvick has scored 298 top-10 finishes in his Cup Series career. He needs just two more to become the 20th driver in Cup Series history to reach 300 top-10 finishes. He ranks third among active drivers, trailing only Johnson’s 337 and Kenseth’s 318.

 

· Career NASCAR Cup Series Totals: Harvick has 36 wins, 162 top-fives, 298 top-10s and 20 poles in 596 career Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s race at Michigan.

 

· Personal Announcement: On Tuesday, July 11, Harvick kicked off his Tuesday-night SiriusXM Radio show “Happy Hours” by announcing that he and wife DeLana are expecting to add a daughter to their family around the first of the year.

 

· Harvick the TV Broadcaster: Harvick served as the play-by-play announcer in the FOX TV booth for the first-ever all-driver NASCAR Xfinity Series race broadcast at Pocono in June. Harvick has made six appearances in the booth since the start of the season. He also visited the booth on Feb. 25 at Daytona, March 18 at Phoenix International Raceway, April 22 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, May 6 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, as well as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event April 1 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and July 19 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. He also is slated to broadcast the Truck Series race on Oct. 13 at Talladega.

 

· Harvick’s Happy Hours on SiriusXM Radio: On March 14, Harvick announced that he will hostHappy Hours on SiriusXM Radio. The show debuted March 28 and airs every Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. ET, featuring Harvick’s distinctive perspective on his sport and life outside the track. Harvick and co-host Matt Yocum take calls from listeners and give NASCAR fans a unique view on the driver’s life and interests when he is away from the racecar.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

The Jersey Boy Aims To Hit Another High Note This Weekend

Martin Truex, Jr.
With Michigan International Speedway (MIS) being the next stop on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Martin Truex Jr. has a similar feeling to what he had before last week’s race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

The week leading up to Watkins Glen, Truex, a Mayetta, N.J. native, felt he was overdue on a road course after dominating the Sonoma (Calif.) road race before a late-race mechanical issue forced him to the garage. The feeling was a positive forecast for Truex, who won the drama-filled, fuel mileage race at the Glen.

Entering Michigan, Truex said the June race at MIS slipped away and feels his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota will have the power to contend for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 victory on the 2-mile oval.

The June race winner at MIS – Kyle Larson – said that Truex’s car was the “class of the field” and Truex agreed 100 percent. But late-race restarts in the non-preferred inside lane dropped the Furniture Row Racing driver to a sixth-place finish.

“Without a shadow of a doubt we had the best car out there,” said Truex about the Michigan race in June. “But those inside lane restarts at the end did us in. I would be awfully surprised if we’re not contending for a win this weekend. The beauty of this team and working with Cole (crew chief, Cole Pearn) is that we enter every race knowing we have a shot at a victory. They keep on bringing fast cars to the track every week.”

With four races remaining in the regular season Truex leads the NASCAR Cup Series in key categories – driver points (116-point margin over second place), wins (4), playoff bonus points (34), stage wins (14) and laps led (1315). The regular season champion will receive an additional 15 playoff points.

Truex has garnered nine top fives and 15 top 10s in the first 22 races of the season. His 9 top fives is a personal season high.

“As a group, we’ve been together for four years now, and I think it’s just evolution of our group and what we’ve been doing,” explained Truex about the team’s success. “Last year was certainly a successful season but felt like we didn’t show how good we really were. We didn’t achieve the things that we thought we were capable of, and so this year I feel like we’ve done a better job. Obviously we’ve been more consistent with the points lead and the stage wins and all those things.

“I think it’s just a credit to the team for being consistent and the pit crew being awesome and not having a lot of mistakes, So really it’s just a work in progress all the time, and I feel like we’re getting to where we want to be.  But we’ve got to keep working hard. This sport is very tough. It changes week to week. You never know what the next week is going to bring or three weeks from now, and our ultimate goal this year is to win our first championship together.”

In 23 starts at Michigan, Truex has five top fives, eight top 10s and has led 150 laps.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Busch Has Dialed Up The Heat

Kyle Busch

As the summer heat has turned up, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Camrys of Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. have turned up the heat as NASCAR’s top series heads to late summer with the playoffs within sight.

Truex and Busch sit 1-2 in several statistical categories – driver rating, average running position, average start, fastest drivers early and late in the run, fastest laps run, great-flag speed and, of course, laps led. The laps led category may be the most impressive number with Truex leading 1,315 laps thus far this season while Busch has led 1,135. Each has almost twice the number of laps led as next-best competitor, Kyle Larson, who sits third with 722.

Looking even closer at NASCAR’s summer stretch – the last 10 races on the schedule starting at June at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and through last weekend’s race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International – the laps-led differential statistic is virtually even with Busch sitting at 551 laps led and Truex at 546 during those races.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is coming off a win at Pocono two weeks ago while Truex brought home the checkered flag last weekend at Watkins Glen as the Cup Series heads to the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.

In the Irish Hills of Michigan this weekend, Busch will look to keep running up front, starting with an improvement over the seventh-place finish he earned at Michigan in June. That finish doesn’t nearly tell the story as Busch led 40 laps that day and was leading late in the race when caution and subsequent restart spoiled what looked to be a breakthrough run at a facility that he had struggled with since the track was repaved heading into the 2012 season. The Las Vegas native brought home a lone top-five finish in June 2013 on the new surface, but also suffered five finishes of 30th or worse since the repave before his seventh-place effort in June.

With Interstate Batteries returning to the No. 18 car this weekend, Busch is encouraging fans to stop by a local Interstate dealer to get their batteries checked before taking off on their late-summer vacation. Hot weather has a far greater effect on batteries than the cold, so this weekend’s race at a popular summer tourist destination like the Great Lakes state of Michigan is the perfect setting to remind fans to have their batteries checked before taking off on one final summer road trip.

Interstate Batteries has been powering the championship-winning organization for more than 25 years and is the “Official Battery of Joe Gibbs Racing.” The iconic brand is in the midst of celebrating its 65th anniversary and has featured special branding on each of the paint schemes to reflect the milestone during its 2017 campaign.

Busch had some success on the last race on the old surface at Michigan on Aug. 21, 2011, and with just four top-10 finishes in 13 previous starts at Michigan, he found himself outdueling now seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson for the win in a late-race shootout at the 2-mile oval, where he brought home his first and only Cup Series win in the Automobile State.

So, as Busch and the Interstate Batteries team head back to the Midwest this weekend with an “Outrageously Dependable” Interstate Battery under the hood, the confidence built from a strong June weekend there and a summer spent running up front will do them well this weekend. But he knows chances are that he’ll need to outduel fellow Toyota Camry driver Truex and his team yet again in order to capture his second career Cup Series victory in the Irish Hills of Michigan.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
Does taking the same approach you have at the Kansas repave also benefit you at a place like Michigan?

“Our team has come a long way at Kansas, that’s for sure. To get a win there was a really big deal for our team. I give my guys a lot of credit for working hard to find something I was more comfortable with there. Our whole team has shown how well we’ve worked together, and that he (crew chief Adam Stevens) has been a really quick study, so I think the same direction can work at Michigan this weekend. We are working on improving as an organization not only on the resurfaced tracks, but overall in general and it showed there in June. We ran as well as we have since the repave there. Everyone is working their guts out to get our stuff better there and we made a lot of progress in June there. I’m looking forward to getting out there in practice and seeing what we can learn with our Interstate Batteries Camry.”

So much of the talk this year has been the strength of Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. Do you feel like you’ll be a contender for the title this year with how strong you’ve been?

“I don’t know. We normally tend to fly under the radar most times during the playoffs. But, you know, I’m not one who needs to go out and beat our chest to say that we should be in the conversations. That’s for other people to decide. I think our stats and our runs and our speed shows for itself. Those guys have just been able to capitalize on race victories. That’s what we haven’t been able to capitalize on. We haven’t been very flashy when it comes to getting through the playoffs. When our backs are against the wall, I would say we haven’t necessarily had that situation, thankfully, so we haven’t had to go out there and win. I mean, in those playoff instances, like some of these other teams have. The 4 (Kevin Harvick) has been able to do it, the 78 (Truex), a couple other guys. We just methodically go about our races and that’s our mentality. When it works for us, we go to victory lane. That’s how we’ve gotten to Homestead the last couple of years.”

Most drivers really seem to enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway. Why is that?

“Regardless of new pavement or not, it’s wide-open racing and you can run from top to bottom more and more every race there as the groove widens out. The biggest thing used to be to find grip there. But with the new surface, there is a ton of grip now. Before, you had grip for maybe five laps, and then you’d just be out to lunch. But now, the tire wear is all out the window and the racetrack is very fast. And the wide racetrack is good. That’s what makes Michigan so exciting and so fun. That’s the biggest deal about it. The surface is finally starting to wear in a bit and we have learned a lot there, I would certainly like to get back to victory lane there for Norm (Miller, Interstate Chairman) and everyone at Interstate Batteries.”

How much more worn is the track surface at Michigan?

“I expect it to be fast, still. There’s still a lot of grip, but it’s starting to get worn in like Kansas did, but not quite to that level just yet. I would still expect it to be very fast this weekend. But if you’re just a little bit loose there, now you’re nervous that just any little bit of getting outside the groove or having a little bit too much yaw will lead to a wreck. It was really intense last year in our tests and in the races there. You are hauling there now, for sure, and we know that corner speeds are up overall this year at other places.”

Interstate Batteries Racing

Race 23 of 36 – Pure Michigan 400 – Michigan

Car No.: 18 – Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry

 

Teammates:  Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota Camry; Daniel Suarez – No. 19 Toyota Camry; Matt Kenseth – No. 20 Toyota Camry.

 

At-Track PR Contact: Bill Janitz, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 803 or Bill.Janitz@TrueSpeedCommunication.com).

Primary Team Members:

Driver: Kyle Busch

Hometown: Las Vegas

 

Crew Chief: Adam Stevens

Hometown: Portsmouth, Ohio

 

Car Chief: Nate Bellows

Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont

 

Race Engineer: Ben Beshore

Hometown: Hometown York, Pennsylvania

 

Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson

Hometown: Bozeman, Montana

 

Spotter: Tony Hirschman

Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Tom Lampe

Hometown: Beatrice, Nebraska

 

Front Tire Changer: Josh Leslie

Hometown: Mount Clemens, Michigan

 

Jackman: TJ Ford

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Front Tire Carrier: Brad Donaghy

Hometown: Orange County, Virginia

 

Rear Tire Carrier: Kenny Barber

Hometown: Hoosick Falls, New York

 

Rear Tire Changer: Jake Seminara

Hometown: Steubenville, Ohio

 

Pit Support: Marcus Bonicelli

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado

 

Pit Support: Jeff Koons

Hometown: Greenfield, Indiana

Road Crew Members:

Truck Drivers: Brendan Greene and Jamie Price

Hometowns: Midland, North Carolina, and Choteau, Montana, respectively

 

Tire Specialist: Jon Desrocher

Hometown: Plattsburgh, New York

 

Interior Mechanic: Wesley Lape

Hometown: Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania

 

Race Engineer: Tyler Allen

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

 

Ride and Handling Engineer: Chris Chase

Hometown: Nichols, New York

 

Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones

Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia

 

Mechanic: Todd Foster

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

 

Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth

Hometown: Pittsfield, Illinois

Notes of Interest:
  • The Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn will mark Kyle Busch’s 449th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 26th NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan.
  • Busch has career totals of 39 wins, 24 poles, 155 top-five finishes, 231 top-10s and 13,491 laps led in 448 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came two races ago at Pocono (Pa.) raceway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 25th of his career, came last weekend at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. He now has six poles this season, a career high.
  • Busch has one win, four top-five finishes and seven top-10s and has led a total of 219 laps in 25 career Cup Series starts at Michigan. Busch’s average Michigan finish is 19.9.
  • 13,000: After leading 100 laps at Pocono in June, Busch bested the 13,000 mark in laps led in NASCAR’s top series. With his current 13,491 Cup Series laps led, Busch is just the 11th driver to best the 13,000 mark.
  • 100th: Busch brought home Toyota’s maiden Cup series victory in March of 2008. Fast forward nine years later and Busch’s recent Pocono win was the 100th for the Toyota Camry brand in NASCAR’s top series. Busch has brought home 35 of those 100 victories for the manufacturer. The win was also Toyota’s 400th victory among NASCAR’s top three series. Among those 400 wins, Busch has 155.
  • Starting Up Front: Busch captured his third consecutive pole last weekend at Watkins Glen, which was the sixth of 2017 for the Las Vegas native. Six poles is the most Busch has captured during any season of his career. In fact, prior to 2017, the most poles Busch had captured in a season was three, which he did on two different occasions during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
  • All-Star Winner: In addition to the Pocono win, Busch brought home a non-points victory in May’s All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, as the M&M’S Caramel brand is now two for three in races so far this year. The win was Busch’s first victory in his 12th start in the All-Star Race, the largest number of starts before an All-Star Race win. The previous high was held by Tony Stewart with 11 All-Star starts before his win in 2009.
  • 39 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Pocono, the 39th points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits tied for 18th on the all-time Cup Series win list with NASCAR Hall of Famer Tim Flock.
  • Trimming the List: With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to the list last season, and now Pocono crossed off the list two weeks ago, Busch has won Cup Series points races at 22 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only track remaining to conquer in the Cup Series is Charlotte. Busch, of course, was the winner of the All-Star non-points race at Charlotte back in May but is still chasing a points-paying Cup Series victory there. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Five of Busch’s last seven Cup Series wins have been his first at each track in NASCAR’s top series (Indianapolis, Homestead, Martinsville, Kansas, and Pocono). Of the 22 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.
  • All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 win last July, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 35 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following the Pocono win.
  • 177 and Counting: Busch enters Michigan with 177 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (39), Xfinity (90) and Truck (48) following his Xfinity Series victory last weekend at Watkins Glen.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY RDNECK!