NASCAR Pre-Race Media: Michigan Track Trends, favorites, sleepers, fades, etc

TRACK: Michigan International Speedway (2 mile oval) DISTANCE: 200 Laps — STAGE 1: 45 Laps, STAGE 2: 75 Laps, FINAL STAGE: 80 Laps, MILES (400 Miles)

  • Hendrick Motorsports hasn’t won a race at Michigan since 2014.
  • Toyota hasn’t won at Michigan since 2015 as that’s their lone MIS win in their last 19 tries.
  • Ford has won 7 straight at Michigan.
  • 5 of the last 6 Michigan winners have come from the top three starting spots. Furthermore, 11 of the last 12 have come from the top 12.
  • Each of the alts 12 winners on the season have also come from a top 8 starting spot including 10 of which from the top 5 at that.
  • 2 of the last 8 races on the season have seen the driver that led the most laps fail to win.
  • Since the stage era began in 2017, 8 of the 9 Michigan races were won by a driver getting stage points in the first stage. 5 of the 9 opening stages saw the eventual race winner come home in the top three there. 3 of the last 4 races on the season has seen the eventual winner finished in the top 6 of the opening stage. Just once in the last 10 races has the opening stage winner won the race in the end.
  • 16 of the last 19 races on the season the eventual race winner scored stage points in the 2nd stage including 6 of the last 7. However, the Stage 2 winner has just 2 wins all season also.
  • 6 of the last 8 race winners on the season didn’t lead a single lap in the first 2 stages.

TRACK COMPARISONS

The sister track to Fontana. The main difference between Michigan and Fontana though is the actual racing surface. Michigan was repaved recently while Fontana has one of the oldest surfaces on the schedule.

Like Pocono and Fontana, Michigan is big enough to pit and not lose a lap so long as you’re running near the midpack on up. That opens up pit strategy calls to give up stage points for track position. There’s enough space to pass, but you have to have great speed as well as handling to get through the long sweeping corners. Can take 2 tires or no tires to make up ground too.

This was the second to last race of the regular season last year and now the fourth this time around.


FONTANA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 26: Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Menards/Quaker State Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Wise Power 400 at Auto Club Speedway on February 26, 2022 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Favorites

Chase Elliott

He’s a great fantasy play with 10 top 10’s in 11 Michigan starts, but after 3 straight runner-ups to start his Cup career at Michigan, he’s not had a top five since. With how well he’s fared over the last 6 races (5 top 2s) I’d snag him.

Kyle Larson

We know what he can do at Michigan’s sister track in Fontana, but he’s also had three wins at Michigan too and third last year. He won Fontana back in February.

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin has 5 top 8 finishes in his last 6 tries including 2 of the last 4 being runner-ups at that.

Kyle Busch

9 straight top 10 finishes including all but one in the top seven at that.

Martin Truex Jr.

He has four top five finishes in his last 5 tries and six top six finishes in his last 9 Michigan starts.

Sleepers

Austin Cindric

He drives a Fire and getting hot on the season.

Kevin Harvick

He swept Michigan in 2020 and won the August race the year prior. Harvick, has four wins in his last six Michigan tries including five top twos in his last seven in the Irish Hills overall.

Ryan Blaney

Good odds here for a driver with 5 top 10 finishes in his last 7 Michigan tries including a win a year ago. In fact, he had a shot to win Race 2 of 2020 before a crash late.

Kurt Busch

10 top 12 finishes in his last 11 Michigan tries including four top six finishes in his last seven overall. He was runner-up in the spring race of 2019 and 10th in both races for the 2020 weekend as well as fourth last year.

Chase Briscoe

He was 11th last year as a rookie and driving a Ford.


BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN – JUNE 10: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the checkered flag to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 10, 2019 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Who To Fade?

Joey Logano

He has 5 top 10’s in his last 7 Michigan tries including a win in 2019 and fifth in 2020. However, he’s also had 4 finishes of 20th or worse in his last 5 starts on the year too and just 1 top 5 finish in the last 10 in general. If you go back to Talladega in late April, Logano only has 2 top 5’s in this current span.

William Byron

He was runner-up last year but has no top 10 finishes in his last 6 starts on the season and only 1 in the top 13. His last top 5 came in his Martinsville win way back in mid April.

Alex Bowman

No top fives with HMS at Michigan including his last three finishes being 21st, 36th and 16th respectively. He’s not had a top 10 in any of his last 8 races on the season with 4 of his last 6 being 32nd or worse.

Christopher Bell

Not a good start at Michigan for him. He was 13th, 17th and 13th respectively.

Cole Custer

He was 34th, 25th and 23rd respectively in his three Cup starts at Michigan.

Austin Dillon

4 of his last 5 have seen him finish 13th or worse including 2 of the last 3 outside the top 30.

Tyler Reddick

18th, 24th and 29th are his Michigan finishes in Cup.


Of Note

Just the 3rd time ever NASCAR has visited the Irish Hills once in a season. 2020 was a doubleheader and the other was last year.


Key Stat

Ford is undefeated since 2018 (7-0).

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