I tend to rant quite a bit when the racing sucks, so I need to give props when it doesn’t. The Pure Michigan 400 at The Michigan International Speedway on Sunday was what I categorize as a good race. With proof positive that wrecking doesn’t determine a good race, we had just enough cautions on the day to continually bunch the cars up for what is exciting, the restarts.
The track at MIS has just enough attributes, modest banking, good length and that new surface, to make for a good stock car race. The groove is wide enough for passing, and with Goodyear supplying the right tires, we got some of the best racing of the season. The only wreck unfortunately, took out the best car on the track. Mark Martin had a rocket ship which, I felt would have been there with the leaders at the end.
Congrats go out to Greg Biffle and his Roush/Fenway Race Team, as he got his second win of the season, and returned to the top of the Sprint Cup points standings where he spent most of the spring. In his post race interview, he said his car was coming back after the lap 197 restart, and he felt he could catch the #48, but wasn’t sure if he could pass him. I think he is right, Jimmie Johnson was going to be tough had he not blown his engine.
With speeds on the straights topping 200 MPH most of the day, seemed to take it’s toll on engines. Jeff Gordon broke a valve spring, Tony Stewart had engine issues, and former points leader Jimmie Johnson blew up on lap 197. I suspected Jimmie might have some problems at the speed of the track after his crew swapped engines overnight. Johnson and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. both started the race in the back after good qualifying efforts.
Tony Stewart with his engine problems, fell another position in the standings to ninth place and only one point ahead of Joe Gibbs driver Denny Hamlin, who has also fell on hard times of late. Hamlin got out of Michigan with an 11th place finish, but is only 33 points ahead of Kasey Kahne. Kahne has run well all year since he dug the early hole in the spring, and has raced himself back into the conversation. Kasey finished third at MIS, and with two wins on the year, could very well wind up in that tenth position.
Jeff Gordon fell another spot in the standings after he left the race on lap 167 and finished 28th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. picked up a spot with his 4th place finish, and think that after switching to the backup car and starting at the rear, will take his finish and be happy. Dale Jr has finished races well all year, with the exception of the slip at Watkins Glen.
Brad Keselowski is going to win a championship in the near future. He is one of most talented young drivers I have seen since Jeff Gordon came up 20 years ago. I told the guys at the Watering Hole as we watched the last of the race, that Keselowski can’t win this race in a Dodge. If he were in a Chevy or Ford, I think he wins the race. We’ll get to see next year as his Penske race team moves to Toyota for the 2013 season.
And it’s off to Bristol where we have been promised a good race. Track owner Bruton Smith had the progressive banking removed after The Food City 500 in March turned out to be a major snoozer. Here’s hoping they fixed the problem, and I will be tuned in Saturday evening expecting the usual Demolition Derby we get at this track.
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