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Nascar Returns to Michigan: Just A Fan’s View of the Carfax 400 at MIS

Nascar returns to Michigan this weekend and it looks like it could be another fuel mileage race, naturally, depending on when the cautions near the end of the race fall. Some of the fastest cars are Bryan Vickers, Mark Martin, Jimmy Johnson and Juan Montoya. It remains to be seen whether they actually are the faster cars come tomorrow. Racing at Michigan is always full of surprises; that’s just the way it is.

I watched the first practice sessions and the the qualifying and didn’t see too much that surprised me, but the last two sessions began to make me wonder just who was getting a handle on what the track would most likely be like at race time tomorrow.

Now I have to be honest, even though I like the Michigan races, to me they do tend to be a bit unexciting, at least until nearer the end. It is a wide track and has multiple grooves. The drivers can pass on the high side and and low side, why they can even pass in the middle. It’s not the fault of the drivers that the race becomes a little tedious in the middle. It is just a characteristic of the track.

Michigan International Speedway was made to race at least three wide on and to be extremely fast while doing so.  All of the competitors can run in any of the three grooves and they can all run fast.

I think the key to this race is who can get the most out of a gallon of gas and still keep near the front. If all goes as it usually does, someone will be leading near the end trying to stretch the last bit of  gas in the fuel line. Let’s just not forget how things went in June; first Jimmy Johnson ran out of gas on the front straight and then Greg Biffle ran out on the back stretch, leaving Mark Martin to drive across the line and claim the victory.

So, do I think this one is going to come down to a fuel mileage race or a race that could end up like the Nationwide race on Saturday afternoon. Gee, I’m glad you asked that question and, to be honest, it could go either way and it could be very exciting, considering the continuance of the double file restart and the possibility of it coming down to fuel and tires, (mostly fuel.) I do think track position will be important and the one that can handle the top groove on a restart just could hold the key to victory. No matter what happens, the one that can hold their line on the restart will be the one that pulls out ahead. Then the question becomes whether they have enough horses to hold off the rest of the pack around them.

It is hard not to notice that the four Hendrick team cars were in the top ten fastest cars in the final practice. Yeah, I know that doesn’t tell us much because it is only a one lap reading on their speeds and we all know it is who can run consistently fastest the latest in a run. Since two of the Hendrick cars were running up front on the last laps of the race in June, it is awfully hard for me not to think one of the four could come away with the win. Even Dale Jr was eighth fastest in that last practice.

This fan thinks the Carfax 400 is going come down to the last laps just like it did in June. I don’t know for sure but I do think all of the Hendrick cars are going to be in the top15 and that includes Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. I also think this is a race that will show a few surprises at the end with all of the manufacturers performing well.

I won’t rule out the possibility of the Fords of Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards being in victory lane, simply because of Greg’s performance in June. I also think Kurt Bush is going to run strong.

Since I like to actually choose a winner, I’m having a hard time choosing, but I do like the chances of Bryan Vickers, Juan Montoya, and even Clint Bowyer and Kyle Bush. But, when it comes right down to it, I’m going to go with Jimmy Johnson. The way he ran last time may not carry over to this race, but I do think him and Chad are coming back with a little something to prove…

See ya next time …


(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© August 15, 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.