Detroit – Motor City, Race City
Detroit RACE City
By Blake Smith and Moon Mullins
Instead of Kiss’s Detroit Rock City … it is Detroit Race City for the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series as they roll into the Motor City for their races this weekend. This will be the second visit to Michigan International Speedway for the Cup Series in 2013 and also the second visit for the GEN6 car to the track.
Greg Biffle took the checkered flag back in June after a dismal day for Hendrick Motorsports. The race was dominated by Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson but when the race was over, there were no Hendrick cars in the top 25. Biffle will have a challenge from 42 others to “crash his party” at Michigan International Speedway this weekend.
NEWS AND NOTES OF THE WEEK
VICKERS' NEW GIG
Earlier this week, Moon posted an article on the WBKR website discussing the announcement of Brian Vickers returning to full time competition in 2014. Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Vickers will be their full-time driver of the #55 beginning with next year’s Daytona events. Aaron’s Inc announced a partnership with Waltrip which will put the Aaron’s logo on the #55 Toyota in every race in both 2014 and 2015.
“We at Aaron’s are thrilled about this partnership. We’re building a championship organization and we know that Brian Vickers and the No. 55 team, under Michael Waltrip’s tradition of winning, are focused on building a championship caliber team," said Ronald W. Allen, Aaron's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "So many of our customers are enthusiastic and loyal NASCAR fans and we are proud to be a part of a sport they are passionate about. We are looking forward to continued success with Brian Vickers both on and off the track".
Vickers has raced the #55 on a part-time basis the last two seasons for MWR posting several impressive performances including his third career victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14.
Perhaps the biggest question that was answered this week was “Who is going to drive the #14 car?” That question was answered on Monday when Stewart-Haas Racing announced that Austin Dillon would pilot the Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet this weekend at Michigan. The team has not determined who will fill the seat next week at Bristol.
Greg Zipadelli said Dillon could become the short-term answer if he performed well at Michigan. "We'd rather have one or two drivers if we can work it out, that'll give us some consistency and build some communication between the crew and driver and give us our best chance. We're working on some of that stuff now. It may be more than two, maybe three or four. If that's the case, we'll look at each individual racetrack and see who's available who runs best at the track and make the best choice we can."
Dillon also will be racing in Saturday's Nationwide event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Because it's the series' debut at the track, Dillon had a full test day Thursday that will allow him to skip two Friday practices in his #3 Chevy while he practices and qualifies Stewart's car at Michigan.
ADIOS JUAN PABLO
On Tuesday, the Associated Press leaked that the relationship between Juan Pablo Montoya and owner, Chip Ganassi could be dissolving for the 2014 season. Associate team owner, Felix Sabates confirmed that later on Tuesday on SIRIUS/XM Radio. "We did not renew the contract for next year," Sabates told the channel. "It was a difficult decision. He understands. You have to move on in life sometimes. It’s frustrating for everybody when you know you’ve got good equipment and you can’t seem to put everything together still." Target is set to sponsor the #42 car next year.
PURE MICHIGAN 400 PREVIEW
WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
There have been 88 Sprint Cup Series races in the Irish Hills of Southeast Michigan, dating all the way back to 1969. There have been 2 races at the track each year since then except for 1973 where only one race was held. What were they thinking?? As you can’t tell I am a big fan of racing at Michigan International Speedway. With multiple grooves and fast speeds, it is some of the best racing you will see all season!
TRUCKIN' IN DETROIT
The Camping World Truck Series will be the first on the track this weekend as they begin their practice this morning at 9:30 AM. The Sprint Cup Series will have their first practice around 11AM before the Truck Series has their final practice on Friday afternoon. Sprint Cup Series qualifying will take place at 2:40 PM. Saturday’s schedule includes 2 practices for the Cup Series and qualifying and race for the Camping World Truck Series.
The forecast according to raceweather.net looks perfect for racing this weekend. The forecast for Friday’s qualifying and practice sessions are sunny with a temperature of 71 degrees. Saturday morning’s practices could be a little misleading for crews with temperatures forecasted to be in the lower 60’s. Sunday’s racetime forecast is Sunny with a high near 74. That makes for perfect racing conditions for Sunday. With the sun beaming down on the track, it will make for slick conditions causing the cars to search for grip around the 2 mile speedway.
CRASH MY PARTY
As I was in Walmart this week, I came across a display for Miller Lite and Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” album. I told my wife, “Hey….that would be an awesome paint scheme for Brad Keselowski to run next week at Bristol.” (She has grown accustomed to these random NASCAR themed comments during our relationship.) I got home and looked online and I guess the Execs at Miller agreed with my idea. Luke Bryan will be a guest of the #2 Miller Lite team this weekend at Michigan International Speedway as he released his new CD, Crash My Party, on Tuesday. Luke will be featured on the hood of Brad Keselowski’s Ford this weekend. In addition, Bryan will take control of the @MillerLite Twitter handle for live tweets during Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400. Can someone PLEASE change Jaclyn’s (
@jacgravesmusic) Twitter password before Sunday!?!
PURE MICHIGAN 400 PAINT SCHEME/CHASSIS NOTES
#1 Jamie McMurray: The #1 team will be debuting the Advil colors during this weekend’s events.
#2 Brad Keselowski: Brad hopes to “crash the party” at his home track this weekend as he races Chassis No. PRS-841 which finished 12th at Michigan back in June.
#5 Kasey Kahne: The #5 team will be hitting the track with the Pepsi Max colors this weekend. The car which is primarily flat black was designed by Kahne himself. This will be Chassis No. 5-809, which last raced at Indianapolis finishing 3rd.
#9 Marcos Ambrose: After a dissapointing race last week at Watkins Glen, Ambrose hopes to rebound with a good finish at Michigan. The Stanley/DeWalt colors will adorn Chassis No. 840 which last competed in April at Kansas Speedway.
#14 Austin Dillon: Dillon will make his debut for Stewart Haas this weekend in the Mobil One colors. The Nationwide series driver will be behind the wheel of Chassis 14-735 which was forced to the hauler back in June after an early practice accident.
#15 Clint Bowyer: The “Duck Dynasty” star will be behind the wheel of a new chassis this weekend at Michigan. Chassis #781 hopes to find itself in victory lane on her first try.
#16 Greg Biffle: The phrase “If it ain’t broke, doesn’t fix it” doesn’t apply to the #16 team. After winning the last race at Michigan, the team has elected to bring a new un-proven chassis to the track this weekend. The 3M team will have old faithful on the trailer though, if something should happen to the primary car.
#17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr: Rookie of the Year Contender, Stenhouse plans to bring Chassis RK-820 this weekend which finished 13th at Dover. It will be the Fifth Third colors for the 17 this weekend.
#21 Trevor Bayne: The satellite Roush Fenway team will take to the track this weekend as Trevor Bayne will behind the wheel of the Wood Brothers #21 this weekend in the same chassis they ran on the father’s day weekend.
#22 Joey Logano: The Shell/Pennzoil team will be returning Chassis-PRS857 to the track this weekend which last raced and finishd 9th at Michigan in June.
# 24 Jeff Gordon: Since 1992, Sam Bass has been delegated to design the paint schemes on the #24 which has led to numerous wins and championships. Another of Bass’ masterpieces will take to the track this weekend on the #24 as the blue/white Axalta paint schemes debuts at Michigan.
#27 Paul Menard: The NIBCO Chevrolet will be on track for the #27 this weekend. This is the same car that Paul drove to a 12th place finish at the Brickyard.
#29 Kevin Harvick: The #29 team will bring the Rheem colors to the track this weekend with the same car they finished 10th with at Kentucky in June.
#31 Jeff Burton: It will be the Cheerios colors on the #31 car this weekend. Chassis #372 was raced earlier this season at both Bristol and Kentucky.
#39 Ryan Newman: It’s not exactly Jeannie C. Riley’s Harper Valley PTA but Ryan Newman will be running a Quicken Loans-PTA paint scheme this weekend. This is the same car that Newman won with at Indianapolis.
#48 Jimmie Johnson: Chad Knaus and the #48 team will be bringing Chassis No. 784 this weekend which finished 28th after a blown tire in the closing laps of the June race.
#99 Carl Edwards: The #99 Geek Squad team will unload RK- 854 which last ran at Michigan where Edwards landed his eighth top-10 finish.
BLAKE AND MOON’S PICKS FOR THE PURE MICHIGAN 400:
Moon: Danica and the GoDaddy team tested earlier this week at Nashville and I think they may have found the magic touch! With the same car she finished 13th with back in June, my pick is DANICA!!!
Blake: A driver who dominated a portion of the June race and was delegated to a back of the pack finish was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt will be bringing that same chassis that he led 34 laps with back to Michigan this weekend. My pick is the 88!
Start your Sunday race day with NASCAR USA beginning at 9AM, then stay tuned for race coverage beginning at 11AM on WBKR and WBKR.com!