Friday, August 26, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Michigan Gets Underway

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Aug. 26, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXLVII


What to Watch: Friday

- Today, Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams will be on track for practice at Michigan International Speedway.  Cup Series teams are set to qualify a little after 5 p.m.


Aaron Bearden (@AaronBearden93)

Also, don't forget to follow our Twitter page, @Frontstretch as well for updates!

This weekend's TV Schedule can be found

Top News
by The Frontstretch Staff

NASCAR NEXT Driver Gary Klutt to Drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports in Canada

On Thursday, Kyle Busch Motorsports announced that Gary Klutt, a member of NASCAR Next and a regular in the Pinty's Series, will make his Camping World Truck Series debut at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.  Klutt will be driving the No. 51 Toyota in place of Cody Coughlin.  Read more


Frontstretch Folio: Pure Michigan 400
by Phil Allaway

This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series makes their second visit of the season to the Irish Hills of Michigan in order to race at Michigan International Speedway.  The Pure Michigan 400 can be seen on NBCSN starting with NASCAR America Sunday at 1 p.m., followed by Countdown to Green. The green flag is scheduled to drop around 2:20 p.m.  The race can also be heard on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

Records and facts

Last year's Pure Michigan 400 was the second and final race with NASCAR's high-drag aerodynamic package.  What did that do?  It created high in-car temperatures (at Casey Mears' headrest, it was 155 degrees by lap 50), but also made passing very difficult.

Matt Kenseth led 146 laps and took the victory in last year's event, one that was criticized for a lack of action.  Kevin Harvick was second, followed by Martin Truex, Jr., Austin Dillon and Denny Hamlin.

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 while Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. have two apiece.

All-time, David Pearson is the winningest driver at Michigan with nine career victories, 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 all-time at MIS with eight wins, followed by Bill Elliott with seven.  Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace both have five victories apiece.

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)




Remaining Pre-Race Schedule:

Practice No. 1: Friday, August 26, 12 - 1:25 p.m. on NBCSN

Qualifying: Friday, August 26, 5:15 p.m. on NBCSN

Practice No. 2: Saturday, August 27, 8:30 - 9:25 a.m. on CNBC

Happy Hour: Saturday, August 26, 11:30 a.m. - 12:50 p.m. on CNBC

Say What?!

"How you finish at Michigan depends on how your day is going. If you're having a good day, it's not really hard to tell your guys what you need and everyone is in a good mood. If you're having a bad day, you can get behind at Michigan really fast. Usually, when you're hooked up at Michigan, the leaders have clean air and move through traffic pretty well. But, if you're in the middle of the pack, you find yourself getting behind and going a lap down pretty quickly. You're going to end up with a green-flag pit stop and a whole bunch of green-flag laps. You just have to be going from the time the green flag drops and keep yourself in position at the end." - Kevin Harvick

"I think it is good to go back a second time to Michigan and let the teams have another shot at the downforce package. From my standpoint, the first Michigan, with the lower downforce, it was still Michigan. It still raced the same. It was still tough to pass. It's been that way ever since we've resurfaced the racetrack. So, I don't put a lot of weight in the package as the culprit there. Going back a second time with it, hopefully we refine our cars and we can race a little bit better." - Jimmie Johnson

"I think the downforce changes are a good direction and it's the direction the series is trying to go. I think it's cool that we ran it at Michigan before and we'll get to run it at Michigan again, to be able to go back-to-back with the package is good. Everybody can use what they learned and run it again.

"It's a pretty big difference this year compared to last year. That high-drag package just punched such a big hole. It was really hard to get around other cars. Less downforce definitely makes a difference. We're still carrying an awful lot of speed through the corners, so it's not like it takes out the aero effect completely, but it can definitely minimize it." - Landon Cassill

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


by Amy Henderson

Tech Talk: Tires, Aero, Firewalls and Fuel with Jason Ratcliff
as told to Mike Neff


by Tom Bowles


Q: CART races at Michigan in the mid-1980s were wreckfests.  The 1984 Michigan 500 is probably best known for a crash just after halfway that ended the season for Chip Ganassi.  Mario Andretti won over Tom Sneva, but the finish was marred by another huge crash.  What happened?

Check back Monday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Thursday's Answer:
Q: In 2003, Jimmy Spencer was suspended following a post-race altercation with Kurt Busch (specifically, Spencer punched Kurt Busch square in the face through his window, similar to what Michael Waltrip did on pit road to Lake Speed in 1995).  What happened to elicit that kind of angry reaction from Spencer?

A: At the time, Busch and Spencer had been in the middle of an on-track rivalry for nearly a year and a half.  It was obvious that they didn't like each other at the time.  The rivalry came to a head when Busch and Spencer had contact on the frontstretch while battling for fourth.  The contact can be seen here.

The incident looks innocuous, but there was intent behind it.  Busch claimed on his radio that he was trying to intentionally cut Spencer's tire and he failed to do it.  That's not cool, especially at the speeds you can reach at Michigan.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have recaps of the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series races from Michigan, in addition to any other news that breaks.

We'll have a series of post-race commentaries analyzing this weekend's action at Michigan International Speedway.
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