What’s the fastest track on the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule?
The answer is Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
The wide, sweeping corners and long straightaways of the 2-mile, D-shaped oval in the state’s scenic Irish Hills region provided the fastest two qualifying laps in 2016. Joey Logano won both poles at Michigan in 2016 with laps of 201.698 and 199.557 mph. The track record is 206.558 mph set by Jeff Gordon in August 2014.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), shakes his head when he describes Michigan.
“She’s a fast, fast racetrack,” Bowyer said. “It always gets your attention.”
Bowyer hasn’t won at Michigan, but his one top-five finish and 11 top-10s in 22 starts lends credibility when he talks about what it will take to win Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 Cup Series race.
|“You have to have grip and a ton of horsepower,” said Bowyer, who has scored the ninth-most points in the last 10 Michigan races. “If you have both of those, you will be just fine.”
Bowyer said finding grip will also be a key to success at the high-speed track and even wondered if NASCAR and track officials will add VHT resin to the surface to increase grip, like it did at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway last month.
“I think Michigan is relatively one groove, so it will be interesting to see if the old VHT is going to show up in an attempt to make it a multi-groove track,” Bowyer said. “As the track ages, it will keep getting better and better. Right now, it seems the middle groove is where you want to be.”
Bowyer arrives at Michigan with momentum despite finishing 17th at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway last weekend after contact with the wall early in the race. It’s been a good run in 2017 for Bowyer and the Mike Bugarewicz-led team. Bowyer replaced three-time champion Tony Stewart, who retired from NASCAR racing at the end of the 2016 season. In his first year at SHR, Bowyer has posted two top-fives and five top-10s.
Bowyer will debut a new Haas Automation paint scheme this weekend. His car will reverse the red and black the No. 14 has campaigned in 2017. SHR plans to run this scheme in the remaining races it carries the Haas Automation livery.
Bowyer will enjoy a little extra support this weekend. Ford Performance headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan is about 70 miles from the speedway. Ford joined SHR in 2017 and the combination has already produced a Daytona 500 victory, nine top-fives and 22 top-10s.
Bowyer has driven for each current manufacturer in NASCAR. He said Ford support has been key to SHR’s success this year.
“It’s been really cool getting to know the Ford folks this season,” Bowyer said. “What I like about Ford is the people you see in our race shop or at the track are the decision makers. If you have a suggestion, they are right there to listen to anything you have to say. I know we are going to visit with a ton of Ford folks this weekend, so winning at Ford’s home track would be pretty awesome.”
|CLINT BOWYER, drive of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
|Does stage racing reduce the number of fuel-mileage races?
“The stages, for the most part, have helped the fuel-mileage racing. Fuel mileage showed up at Charlotte, but that was a 600-mile race. That’s an exception. Hopefully, we won’t see that this weekend in Michigan. It’s part of the sport’s strategy and it’s cool every now and then, but I think all of us want to see a cool, side-by-side finish.”
|Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 15 of 36 – FireKeepers 400 – Michigan
|Car No. 14: Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing
At Track PR Contact: Drew Brown with True Speed Communication (704-498-7596 or Drew.Brown@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
Driver: Clint Bowyer
Residence: Emporia, Kansas
Crew Chief: Mike Bugarewicz
Hometown: Lehighton, Pennsylvania
Car Chief: Jerry Cook
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
Engine Specialist: Matt Moeller
Hometown: Monroe, New York
Engine Builder: Roush Yates Engines: Mooresville, North Carolina
Spotter: Brett Griffin
Hometown: Pageland, S.C.
Front Tire Changer: Ira Jo Hussey
Hometown: Manchester, New Hampshire
Front Tire Carrier: Brett Morrell
Hometown: Windham, Maine
Rear Tire Changer: Chris McMullen
Hometown: Canton, Michigan
Rear Tire Carrier: Josh Sobecki
Hometown: New Kensington, Pennsylvania
Gas Man: James “Ace” Keener
Hometown: Fortuna, California
Jackman: Getty Cavitt
Hometown: Owensboro, Kentucky
Windshield: Justin Peiffer
Hometown: Lebanon, Pennsylvania
Truck Drivers: William “Stump” Lewis and Rob Fink
Hometown: Linkwood, Maryland and Baltimore, Maryland, respectively.
Engineers: Lee Deese, Chris Chidgey and Kenny Oates
Hometown: Rockingham, North Carolina, Gainesville, Florida and Huntersville, North Carolina, respectively.
Mechanics: Tony Silvestri and Rich Letendre
Hometown: Sylvania, Ohio and Lowell, Massachusetts, respectively
Tire Specialist: Russell Simpson
Hometown: Medford, New York
Shock Specialist: Wayne Smith
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
- Sunday’s race will mark Clint Bowyer’s 412th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and 23rd career Cup Series start at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where he has one top-five finish and 11 top-10s and has led 28 laps.
- Bowyer owns career totals of eight wins, two poles, 60 top-five finishes, 172 top-10s and 2,351 laps led in 411 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories. He is 10th in the Cup Series standings after 14 races.
- His most recent Cup Series victory came at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (Oct. 13, 2012).
- His most recent Cup Series pole came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 16, 2007).
- Bowyer in 2017: A 17-car accident on lap 127 of the Daytona 500 collected Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford and left him with a 32nd-place finish. At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bowyer started 24th and climbed to third with 85 laps remaining before contact with another car and a cut tire left him with an 11th-place finish. At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the No. 14 Ford team struggled early but improved throughout the race to finish 10th. At Phoenix International Raceway, Bowyer drove from 17th to 13th in overtime. Bowyer repeated his overtime feat at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, when he drove from sixth to third in the added laps to record his best finish of 2017. At Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Bowyer overcame a midrace accident to finish seventh. He finished 11th at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and second at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. A penalty while running sixth at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway left Bowyer with a 15th-place finish. It marked his eighth consecutive top-15 finish. At Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, he led 10 laps but a late-race pit stop because of tire damage ended his bid for victory. At Kansas Speedway in Kansas City Bowyer finished ninth, his fifth top-10 finish of the season. In Charlotte, a tight-handling car throughout the 600-mile race left him with a 14th-place finish. Bowyer drove from 22nd to fourth in the opening 100 laps at Dover before an oil leak sent the No. 14 to the garage for repairs, after which he returned to the track to finish 31st. A brush with the Pocono (Pa.) Raceway wall last week left Bowyer with a 17th-place finish.
- Tony Stewart and Gene Haas co-own Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), which has recorded 37 victories and 33 poles since its inception in 2009. Stewart won the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series title and Kevin Harvick gave SHR its second title in 2014. SHR’s Kurt Busch won this year’s season-opening Daytona 500.
- SHR has one points-paying victory at Michigan (Kurt Busch in June 2015) and has 10 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s in 46 starts.
- Bowyer Cup Series Career Victories:
- Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (Oct. 13, 2012)
- Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (Sept. 8, 2012)
- Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (June 24, 2012)
- Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (Oct. 23, 2011)
- Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (Oct. 31, 2010)
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 19, 2010)
- Richmond International Raceway (May 3, 2008)
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 16, 2007)
- Bowyer Cup Series Career Poles:
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 14,2007)
- Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (May 11, 2007)
- Bowyer Career Cup Series Points Finishes:
- 2016 27th
- 2015 16th
- 2014 19th
- 2013 7th
- 2012 2nd
- 2011 13th
- 2010 10th
- 2009 15th
- 2008 5th
- 2007 3rd
- 2006 17th
- Bowyer Cup Series Career Stops:
- 2017 Stewart-Haas Racing
- 2016 HScott Motorsports
- 2012-2015 Michael Waltrip Racing
- 2006-2011 Richard Childress Racing
- Bowyer Xfinity Series Career Victories:
- Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Sept. 26,2009)
- Daytona (Fla) International Speedway (July 3, 2009)
- Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (March 15, 2008)
- Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (May 4,2007)
- Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway in Avondale (April 20, 2007)
- Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Sept. 23, 2006)
- Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park (Oct. 22, 2005)
- Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway (June 12, 2005)
- Bowyer Camping World Truck Series Victories:
- Kansas (Kan.) Speedway in Kansas City (June 4, 2011)
- Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway in Avondale (Nov.12, 2010)
- Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Nov 3, 2006)
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!