Friday, June 10, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Michigan and Texas Get Underway

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Jun. 10, 2016
Volume X, Edition XCII


What to Watch: Friday

- Today, the Sprint Cup Series is scheduled to practice and qualify at Pocono Raceway for Sunday's FireKeepers Casimo 400.  Meanwhile, the ARCA Racing Series is also scheduled to race 200 miles at 5:45 p.m.


Aaron Bearden ( @AaronBearden93)

Beth Lunkenheimer ( @Beth_Frntstrtch)
and our own Twitter page, @Frontstretch as well for updates!

This weekend's TV Schedule can be found

Top News
by The Frontstretch Staff

Chase Elliott Tops Opening Practice at Michigan
Chase Elliott maintained his form from Pocono Friday, setting the fastest lap in opening practice at Michigan.  Elliott's lap of 35.709 seconds (201.630 mph) was six-hundredths of a second faster than Martin Truex, Jr.  Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 5.  Read more
Erik Jones Leads, Groundhog Steals the Show in Opening NXS Practice
In the XFINITY Series, JGR continued their domination with Erik Jones leading the opening practice session.  However, the session was interrupted for 12 minutes as a comedy routine broke out as track workers tried to capture a groundhog.  Read more
Rookies and Veterans Fast in Truck Series Practices at Texas

After a delay, Camping World Truck Series teams took to the track for two practice sessions on Thursday.  Matt Crafton was fastest in the first session, while John Wes Townley was fastest in the second.  Read more
NASCAR Officials Experience Travel Woes on the Way to Texas

The Camping World Truck Series was originally supposed to have three practice sessions on Thursday at Texas Motor Speedway.  However, a plane carrying NASCAR officials and at least one driver was forced to turn back due to pressurization issues, delaying the opening of the garage by hours.  Read more
Chip Ganassi Labels NASCAR's Lug Nut Policy "Silly"
On Wednesday, Kyle Larson's crew chief Chad Johnston was suspended for this weekend's FireKeepers Casino 400 due to loose lug nuts on Monday.  Team owner Chip Ganassi is not pleased about that, claiming that the current lug nut policy is silly.  Read more
Frontstretch Folio: FireKeepers Casino 400
by Phil Allaway

This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series travels to the Great Lakes State for their first visit of the year to Michigan International Speedway.  Coverage of the FireKeepers Casion 400 can be seen on FOX Sports 1 starting at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday while the green flag is scheduled to fly around 1:20.  The race can be heard on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

Records and facts

In last year's Quicken Loans 400, rain was the main topic of discussion.  Two yellows flew early on for rain.  Kevin Harvick led the most laps, but finished a lap down in 29th after having a tire issue.  Kurt Busch was able to get by Kyle Larson on lap 133 for the lead.  Shortly afterwards, the rains came once again, this time ending the race after 138 laps.  Kurt Busch ended up claiming the win with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in second and Martin Truex, Jr. in third.  Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano rounded out the top 5.

Among active drivers, Greg Biffle stands alone with four victories at the two-mile track.  Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte (not entered this week) and defending race winner Kurt Busch each have three Michigan wins.  Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Earnhardt Jr. have two a piece.

All-time, David Pearson is the winningest driver at Michigan with nine career wins, including three in a row at one point.  His first Michigan win came in the Yankee 600, an attempt to run a 600-mile race at Michigan.  It ended up being rain-shortened to 165 laps of the scheduled 300.  Cale Yarborough is second with eight wins, followed by Bill Elliott with seven.  Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace both have five wins.

Track Facts
Track / Race Length: 2 mile "D-Shaped" oval, 200 laps (400 miles)
Banking: 18 degrees
Frontstretch: 3,600 ft., banked 12 degrees

Backstretch: 2,242 ft., banked 5 degrees

Grandstand Seating: 71,000
Pit Road Speed: 45 mph
Pace Car Speed: 55 mph
Opened: 1968 (first Cup race in 1969)




Pre-Race Schedule:

Practice No. 1: Friday, June 10, 11 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. on FOX Sports 1

Qualifying: Friday, June 10 at 4:15 p.m. on FOX Sports 1
Practice No. 2: Saturday, June 11, 9 - 9:55 a.m. on FOX Sports 1

Happy Hour: Saturday, June 11, 12 - 12:55 p.m. on FOX Sports 2

Say What?!

"Michigan is a sister track to Pocono. I hope we can back up our win there that we had in last year's race. We worked our way from the back in a back-up car all the way to the front right at the right time. We got the lead and then the rain came. A lot of luck is involved in this day and age. We've got to have it all if we are going to position ourselves to win. Tony Gibson (crew chief) continues to give 100 percent as well as everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing to keep plugging away. It's good that we are second in points. It feels nice.

"Michigan is a tough place because of the way the cars have that grip level on fresh tires versus old tires. What I mean by that is when you put on fresh tires, your tires are cold and they don't grab the asphalt as well. A lot of guys try to stay out at Michigan with the hot tires on and they get better restarts. Restarts at Michigan are already pretty wild with how wide the track is and how many lanes there are for options. It comes down to just trying to put yourself in the best position with the best-percentage chance on whether it's fresh tires, or it's staying out, or it's making spots up on restarts." - Kurt Busch

"Speeds are high at Michigan. I think I've been clocked at 217 mph after they repaved it. It's been a tough track for the No. 48 Lowe's team historically. We've had plenty of opportunities to win this race in the past and have figured out how to lose it with five to go. You want to win here for Chevrolet. I was pretty disappointed last weekend at Pocono to run up front and then have it end the way it did. I'm looking forward to this weekend and then a much needed off-weekend for Father's Day." - Jimmie Johnson

"The groove at Michigan has inched its way open a little bit since the repave a few years ago. This year, I don't know what the tire is going to be like. That's probably going to be the determining factor on how much the groove opens up. I'll be able to see on my first lap of practice on Friday if the track's lighter than it was last year and see how the aging of the pavement has gone.
"We're approaching the half-way mark of the season, and I have to say I have loved my time so far with Front Row Motorsports. It's a great team, a great group of people. I love our owner and just everything that is going on here. I've been very highly motivated to take advantage of this opportunity and run as well as I can." - Landon Cassill

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at

by Zach Catanzareti
by Mike Neff

Q: Entering the 1997 Miller 400 at then-Michigan Speedway, Terry Labonte was tied for the points lead with teammate Jeff Gordon.  He left Michigan 109 points back in third.  What happened?
Check back Monday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Thursday's Answer:
Q: Quirky things can happen from time to time at the racetrack.  For dirt late model racer Josh Richards, such a thing happened in the 2012 Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan.  What was it?
A: Richards crashed his No. 39 Ford for Go Green Racing in turn 3 after effectively being run over from behind by Jamie Dick, ending his day.  That's not all that strange, as Michigan can be a tough place, especially just after the repave.  However, the car running down the track by itself with no one at the wheel, then backing up by itself?  That's rather strange.  That's what went down here.  The crash and runaway car situation can be seen here.  No one was hurt by the runaway Ford Mustang.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have recaps of the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races from Michigan International Speedway, in addition to the Camping World Truck and Verizon IndyCar Series races from Texas Motor Speedway.  There will also be an update on the points and any other news that breaks.

We'll have a series of post-race commentaries analyzing this weekend's action in Texas and Michigan.
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