Nascar Racing

NASCAR Cup Teams Take On Michigan


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The NASCAR teams will take on the Michigan international Speedway this Sunday afternoon and, as usual, competition and intense speed will be the order of the day. The competition will take place amongst the drivers on the track, in the minds of the crew chiefs and amongst the crews in the pits. All of this will be taking place over 200 laps and 400 miles in the Quicken Loans 400.

I know you’re probably getting tired of hearing this next statement but, there’s no denying that Hendrick horsepower once again showed up strong at Michigan throughout all of the teams using it whether it be the regular Hendrick teams or what are called Hendrick associated teams. It has definitely been something that has been fairly constant throughout the 2014 season. Yes, Hendrick horsepower has been leading the way when it comes to putting the horses under the hood whether or not the teams have been able to hook up all those horses to the track.

Now, that’s not to say that the Fords and Toyotas haven’t got any horsepower to speak of but of those two, the Toyotas appear to be struggling the most. I know there will be those that disagree with me on that but in reality, the Chevys (especially those with Hendrick horsepower under the hood) and the Fords have proved to be the strongest or fastest depending on how you look at it and the Toyotas just haven’t been that impressive throughout entire races on a regular basis yet. Yes I know that they’ve won but that doesn’t mean they’re all that fast. What it means (at least from this fan’s view) is that the fastest cars don’t always win if the circumstances are right. (I’m guessing that at least a few of you people out there just might agree with me on that…)

Once again this week at Michigan the track record was broken and a new one established. Kevin Harvick was the one that established the new track record and he sits on the pole for Sunday afternoon’s race. Of all the drivers and teams in Sprint cup this year, Kevin Harvick and is #4 Stewart/Haas team have shown up almost every week and unloaded off the truck as the ones to beat. As we all know, they haven’t been the ones to beat every week and have had their problems but there’s no denying that they’ve been impressive and when it comes time for the Chase they should be contenders for the championship as well. I reckon I should also mention that they just might be the ones to beat this weekend, too.

The Penske Fords of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have shown a bit of strength also this year especially during the qualifying times. Even last weekend it looked as though Keselowski was going to win except for that pesky bit of trash blocking the airflow to his radiator on the front of his car. Since he was running very hot and didn’t think his car was going to make it to the end he made the decision to try something to remove the debris that didn’t work. He lost his momentum and was passed by Dale Jr. who ended up winning the race, but that’s old news. Even Logano was looking strong last weekend except for blowing his engine near the end of the race. Engine life could be a problem for any of the teams this weekend.

From this fan’s view, if the Fords do mount a charge to win Sunday afternoon, it could very likely be from the Penske Fords or even the Roush Fords. Everyone knows that Greg Biffle usually runs good at MIS and Carl Edwards has also been known to do so. Even though this fan doesn’t think either one of those two will win, I can’t rule out that possibility for either one of them.

That brings us back to the Hendrick teams. Of the four Hendrick teams, Kasey Kahne has probably had the worst luck of all of them. It’s not so much that he hasn’t had the speed of the rest or that he hasn’t had the handling, it’s more that he’s been in the right place at the wrong time (or as some would say, the wrong place at the right time.) It is kind of interesting that of the four Hendrick teams three of them are performing extremely well and Kahne’s team is struggling every week. I’m not saying that all of it’s been his fault either because he’s had a lot of help.

I don’t really want to make a prediction and that’s not my intent here, but, any one of the four Hendrick teams could end up in Victory Lane Sunday afternoon when all is said and done. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Junior, in particular, are my strongest picks and in that order but Kasey Kahne could also be the one. (Some might even say he’s due to win, or maybe even, it’s about time he won.)

As is always the case in NASCAR, I can never rule out the performance of the Joe Gibbs Toyotas even though I don’t think they’re displaying that much speed this weekend. You can never rule out Matt Kenseth from being at or near the front at the end of a race and the same goes for Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Even though they haven’t shown themselves to be that impressive this weekend, (at least from this fan’s view), it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise to this fan to see one of the three of them in Victory Lane at the end of the Quicken Loans 400.

As is usually the case in NASCAR racing these days, track position will definitely be key to taking the victory this weekend. There will be little room for mistakes and errors whether it be on the track or in the pits and I definitely think strategy will play a big part especially near the end of the race. There is one other thing that could rear its head Sunday afternoon and play a big part in who wins and that could be fuel strategy. (Gosh I hope not, but it could…)

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 14, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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By Rusty Norman

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