Congratulations to Chase Elliott, who won his first ever Cup race at Watkins Glen on Sunday afternoon. His father was up with the spotters to watch his son fight off Martin Truex Jr. to win the road course race easily when Truex ran out of gas on the final lap. I don’t think it would have mattered because Truex wasn’t going to catch Chase anyway. Chase made one mistake in the last thirty plus laps on the second to the last lap, but Truex couldn’t capitalize there either.
CONSUMERS ENERGY 400
The win gave Chevrolet their first non-restrictor plate victory of the season. The question now is, can the Chevrolet teams win on one of the intermediate tracks? Chase showed a lot of speed at Watkins Glen. Is it just the speed or are they still lacking aerodynamics on the intermediate tracks? If you want to win a championship you have to be able to win on this type of track because that is what most of the playoffs are based on and the final race of the year is on an intermediate track.
Some of those questions will be answered this week as the series heads back to the Michigan International Speedway for the running of the Consumers Energy 400. This is a two-mile D-shaped speedway that has long sweeping turns. Drivers need to carry a lot of speed through the corners, so they can carry that speed down the long straightaways at this track. That means your car needs speed, handling, and great aerodynamics if you want to have a chance to win here.
Kevin Harvick: I am going to go back to Kevin winning his seventh race of the season this weekend. He has been fast all season and has been stellar at this track over the past eleven races. In those races he has finished second six times including the race here in June. He also has two other top five finishes in that stretch. I’m still not convinced that the Chevy drivers will have the speed they need to win here this weekend, but Kevin will.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin is still looking for his first career win at this track. He has led laps in four of his last five starts at this track and has finished second or third in three of his last seven starts here. He also won the race at the Auto Club Speedway earlier this year which is a track very similar to this one. He led laps in his last three starts at that track and all of that information on car handling will carry over to this track.
Kyle Busch: Kyle is a little bit of a different story at Michigan. His lone win came here back in the 2011 season and he finished fourth here in June. For some reason he doesn’t run as consistently well at this track as he does in California. He has three straight top ten finishes at Michigan, but he has finished in the top three in five of this last seven starts at Auto Club. Which type of handling and speed will he have this weekend.
Chase Elliott: So, Chase picked up his first Cup win and got that monkey off his back. He has been showing improvement on the intermediate tracks lately too. He has run five races at Michigan and has never finished outside the top ten. In fact he finished second in his first three starts here. He will come into this weekend with a lot of confidence now, but won’t be able to make any mistakes if he wants to go on a winning streak.
Kyle Larson: Let’s not forget about this Kyle at Michigan. His three race winning streak at this track was broke in a rain shortened race here in June. He has led laps in each of his last five starts at this track and has been the only other Chevy driver besides Chase to show any inkling that they might be able to win on an intermediate track. I look for his to run that high line once again this weekend and get a good run off the corners.
Erik Jones: Erik has been very hot lately. He won at Daytona and finished fifth at Watkins Glen this past weekend. This team has a lot of confidence right now and is showing they can compete on all types of tracks. He has only run three races at Michigan, but has never finished worse than fifteenth and he finished third in this race last season. Plus he has finished in the top twelve in both of his starts in California.
Jamie McMurray: This might come as a surprise to you, but Jamie is the only driver other than Chase Elliott to finish in the top ten here in each of his last five starts. Combine that with top ten finishes in two of his last three California races and that tells me this team has something figured out at these tracks. I don’t know if he’ll be in contention for a win this weekend, but another top ten is definitely within reach.
Brad Keselowski: This is the track Brad wants to win at more than any other track on the circuit. Brad is from Michigan and considers this his home track and he has been very good here during his career even though he is still looking for that elusive win. He sat on the front row his last two races here and has finished in the top ten in seven of his last nine starts here. I think he has another good showing this week.
Joey Logano: Joey has been even more consistent than his teammate, Brad Keselowski, has been. He has finished in the top ten in ten of his last eleven starts here including both of his wins at this track. Couple that with five top seven finishes in his last six starts at California and you have the recipe for a team capable of winning the race here this weekend.
Kurt Busch: Kurt got his last win here in June of 2015. He has finished in the top twelve in six of his last seven starts since that time. He could come away with another top ten finish here this weekend because we know how much speed the Stewart-Haas drivers have had all season. If everything goes right he could be looking at getting his first win of the year.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Martin Truex Jr.
Driver Group Game Group B
- Chase Elliott
- Erik Jones
- Jamie McMurray
- Aric Almirola
Driver Group Game Group C
- William Byron
- Darrell Wallace Jr.
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
- Kevin Harvick
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Joey Logano
- Chase Elliott
- Kyle Larson
Dark Horse: Jamie McMurray
Stay Away From: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Big 18: Joey Logano