Nascar Racing

Michigan Means Two To Go To Make The Playoffs

From a NASCAR Fan’s View


Ok… so last weekend turned out to be… well… I guess I could say, interesting. I think that would be an understatement at best but, I really don’t know any other way to express it. Not much changed in the top sixteen and it is still a tight battle for those last two spots. Since this weekend is at Michigan International Speedway, that means this race and the one next weekend at Daytona are all the chances anyone has to make it into the top sixteen either by points or wins. If someone other than one of the expected and previous 2021 season winners takes this one, it could really make next weekend at Daytona even more pressure packed than it already will be.

Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick still have no wins this season and both of them would love to have a win this weekend and have no worries heading into Daytona next weekend. In fact, just about everyone presently in the top sixteen would like to not have to worry about anything going to Daytona. That’s one reason why I think this race at MIS is going to be one for the books, especially for those that are not already locked into the playoffs.

Denny Hamlin almost stole the victory last weekend at Indy and would have solidified his spot in the playoffs and probably made it even more interesting for the 2021 season championship battle he is in with Kyle Larson. At the present, he is behind in that battle and needs a win or a really great points day compared to Kyle Larson Sunday afternoon. Denny is 22 points behind Larson and really needs something spectacular to happen to get back in the hunt for the 2021 season championship. If he wins it makes the battle even tighter between the two. If he scores a lot of points compared to Larson, it also makes the battle even tighter. If he has a bad day compared to Larson, it would make next weekend at Daytona one of his most important races of the 2021 season.

Kevin Harvick is in the playoffs as it stands right now but he still has no wins on the season and really hasn’t performed all that bad this season. He is one of the drivers that has a very good record at MIS and is one that could pull off the victory this weekend. The Stewart-Haas teams have struggled a bit this season and his number four team is no different. Even though he has run well, he hasn’t really been in the hunt at the end of a race. That’s not to say he hasn’t been running good it’s just to say he hasn’t been running good enough. When it comes down to it, a win this weekend could be just the shot in the arm he and his team need to go into the playoffs with more confidence to be more than an also-ran in the playoffs.

The Penske teams have been having their own set of problems this season and Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have each had lower than expected results. Yes, they both have wins and are guaranteed to be in the playoffs but, they have not shown the usual strength entering into the playoffs as in past years. From my view, the Fords usually perform pretty well at MIS and this weekend might be their time to shine. Still, there Hendrick Chevys and the Gibbs Toyotas might have something to say about that.

Speaking of the Gibbs Toyotas, this is another race that I just can’t ignore two things. I’ve already talked about Denny Hamlin and his situation but, Kyle Bush and Martin Truex Jr. could make waves when all is said and done Sunday afternoon. The Toyotas have run strong in recent weeks but have also had their share of troubles. I’ve mentioned in the past that Kyle seems to run better when they have practice and this weekend isn’t one of those. Michigan isn’t a track the teams haven’t seen before so it might not be the same as it appears to this fan. Either one of these drivers could win and there is something to be said for momentum heading into the playoffs even with Daytona happening the week before.

Gee, I almost forgot to mention the battle between teammates Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon. Both have been battling for the final playoff spot for several weeks now. For the moment, Reddick holds the edge by twenty-eight points but that could change this weekend. You know how it goes. If something happens to one or the other causing a DNF, the whole picture could change. If Austin wins, which he very well could, that would knock Tyler out and mean he would have to win at Daytona. Wow, can you even imagine the pressure these two teammates must be feeling. If someone unexpected wins, that could change the whole picture for both of them going into next weekend.

The Hendrick teams have been running very strong and are somewhat favored by many to win this one. It is true, they have been showing a lot of consistency and, really, all four have been running strong. From this fan’s view, the only thing standing in the way of a Hendrick team winning this weekend is that the package all teams are running this weekend is the weaker package, performance-wise, for HMS. Look, I’m not saying they don’t have a chance, I’m just saying the odds are a little better for the other teams to run with them. Of course, Kyle Larson is one of those HMS teams and, well, you know how he has been running this season…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 21, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

By Rusty Norman

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