WBKR NASCAR Preview: Pure Michigan 400

After a weekend of both left and right turns, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will make their 2nd visit of the season at Michigan International Speedway, the sight of this weekend’s event. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be trying to defend his title at Michigan after going to victory lane in the June event.

Last week’s winner, Marcos Ambrose set a qualifying record at the 2-mile oval in June with a speed of over 203 MPH. Since then, drivers and teams have returned to the track for a Goodyear tire test where NASCAR tested and developed a new tire for this weekend’s event. Speeds are expected to be slower this weekend due to the tire compound change and wear on the track’s repaved asphalt. Can he make it two in a row? Marcus told Fox News, “We really got a good shot at it there. We have to really concentrate on car speed”.

Jeff Gordon says the repaved track will mean, “Everything we’ve done in the last race is pretty much out the window there”.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., a two-time Michigan winner, is not worried about the new feel. “ t’s the kind of race track you hope and pray to build.”

The drivers’ and teams’ VIP suites will be filled this weekend with executives from the automotive industries. Competitors will spend their time and money “wining and dining” these folks this weekend with hopes of a victory lane visit on Sunday. If you look at the record books for the track, Ford has the best record at Michigan International Speedway. Roush Fenway Racing and Wood Brothers Racing have a total of 22 combined wins at the track.

Sam Hornish, Jr. will have a busy weekend as he pulls double duty in both the Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series. The Sprint Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series are both in Michigan, while the Nationwide Series teams are visiting our friends to the North in Montreal. Hornish, who sets 3rd in Nationwide Series points will focus his efforts on Friday and Saturday at the road course in Canada and will return to the States on Sunday for the Sprint Cup Series race. Camping World Truck Series driver, Parker Kligerman will practice and qualify Hornish’s Sprint Cup car in preparation for Sunday.

There are 4 drivers who can mathematically lock themselves into a “Chase for the Championship” position following Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400. These drivers include point’s leader Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Brad Keselowski can also lock himself in the first wildcard position by winning Sunday’s race.

The key to victory this weekend will be fuel mileage. Teams will spend part of Saturday’s practice session determining how far they can go on fuel before Sunday’s race. Some drivers and teams may elect to get off pit sequence from other teams to better suit there fuel mileage game.

A driver who looked to be on the right track for a top 5 finish or possibly a win last week was Tony Stewart. “Smoke” finished 2nd at the June race at Michigan and he is my pick to win on Sunday!

Tune into Sunday’s coverage of the Pure Michigan 400 beginning at 11AM on WBKR and WBKR.com!


- Blake Smith and Moon Mullins