The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Teams take on the Michigan International Speedway for the second time in a little less than two months. Once again they will challenge the recently repaved track and it remains to be seen if the track surface will allow at least two grooves for racing or if it will still be basically a one grove race track. On their last visit to MIS, it was pretty much one groove and the best one happened to be the higher one.
Maybe it’s just me but it seems that the speeds are a skosh bit higher than last time but this fan doesn’t know what difference that makes since they enter the turns at over 200 mph. Brad Keselowski qualified right at 203 mph and that means he was entering the turns at a good clip above 200 and likely easily above 210 mph. No matter how you look at it, that’s FAST. In fact, there isn’t that much separating the top ten or twelve when it comes to qualifying speeds and that means it could be tough to pass all afternoon. Well… at least pass on the track. That will put more pressure on the crews to make really fast pit stops and try to help their driver pass as many competitors as possible in the pits. It will also put an extra bit of pressure on the crew chiefs to come up with a strategy to help get, or keep, their driver out front. At Michigan, that’s a challenge most any time.
Meanwhile, the chances are winding down for those that hope to get a win to lock themselves into the playoffs. There are only three spots left and there are at least five plus vying for those coveted spots. A couple of them absolutely need a win to make it in and the others cannot afford to have a bad day at Michigan or the following three tracks or they might not make it in. If there are no new winners over the next four races, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth would likely make the playoffs with points. If any of the three have a bad day at Michigan or any of the three remaining tracks, it lessens their chances of making the playoffs on points and adds them to the list of needing a win to make it in.
Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer really need a wins to clinch a spot in the playoffs and, if that does happen, it will really mix up the chances for the other three. It doesn’t stop there though. If one of the non-winners for 2017 does win, any one of the remaining spots is less likely to be taken by points and becomes more of a must win situation to get in for those close in points but no wins yet. From this fan’s view, that makes Michigan and the next three races very interesting at the very least when it comes to points or wins whether or not the racing is good, bad or indifferent.
Once again, (and I really hate to keep bringing it up), that brings us to the possibility of Dale Jr. making it into the playoffs in this his final season in regular competition in the Cup Series. He absolutely needs to win to have any chance at all and if he and his team can’t turn it around over the next three or four weeks, well… let’s just say it’s all over for his chance to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Championship. Presently he sits 22nd in points and, barring what this fan would call “miraculous intervention”, he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in a very hot place of making it in on points. I repeat… he absolutely needs to win to get in and he needs it in the worst way.
Earlier I mentioned Joey Logano and he needs a win because his chances are wearing thin also. He is 67 points behind Clint Bowyer and depending on how the flags fall for him in the next four races, he has the least likely chance of making it in on points. I’m not saying he can’t or won’t but I am saying his options are becoming more and more limited. Without a win it is quite likely someone else will get in on points even if there are a couple of new winners over the next four races.
The first practice and the qualifying sessions showed the Fords to be very fast, at least in one lap speeds and that could mean trouble for the rest during the Pure Michigan 400. As of the final practice, at least from this fan’s view, it does look like they may get some competition from the other manufacturers. It is not uncommon, also from this fan’s view, for one manufacturer to show themselves fairly dominant during practice and qualifying only to drop like rocks on race day.
I don’t expect that to happen during the Pure Michigan 400 but I do expect the racing to be pretty competitive and I’m just not so sure a Ford will end up in Victory Lane. Well… unless it is the Ford driven by Clint Bowyer or one of the previous winners in a Ford this season. I’m not ruling anyone or anything out but, I think this could be a very intense, competitive and emotional 400 miles… What do you think?
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 13, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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