BROOKLYN, Mich. — NASCAR will debut rules updates for this Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway and use them again in the July 9 contest at Kentucky Speedway.
The rules package developments are part of an industry-wide collaboration to further enhance the racing.
Recently, welded truck trailing arms and new brake cooling rules were put into place. The following updates to the rules package will be added at Michigan and Kentucky to further reduce downforce and sideforce:
• Reduce skew generated sideforce by setting rear toe to zero (same rule used in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race)
• Aero package tweaks to reduce aero-generated downforce and sideforce
• Spoiler shortened from 3.5 inches to 2.5 inches
• Splitter reduced to 2 inches
• Resize of deck fin to match spoiler
The current rules package has generated some of the closest racing in years through the first 14 races of 2016. Highlights include three races setting track records for green flag passes for the lead, as well as two races featuring the seventh-closest margin of victory in NSCS history (since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993).
Keselowski goes for home state win
Brad Keselowski, a Rochester Hills, Mich., native, attempts to become the eighth active driver to win a race in his home state in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway (noon on FS1).
The seven active drivers with wins in their home states are: Jimmie Johnson (7 victories), Denny Hamlin (7), Tony Stewart (2), Aric Almirola (1), Kyle Busch (1), Kevin Harvick (1) and Ryan Newman (1).
The No. 2 Ford driver’s best finish at the two-mile track was a runner-up showing in August of 2012. Overall, he has three top fives, six top 10s and a 16.5 average finish in 13 Michigan starts. He does have two NASCAR XFINITY Series wins at Michigan, in 2009-10.
Keselowski placed third on Monday at Pocono and has a streak of five top-10 finishes since his win at Talladega.
Click here for an infographic detailing Keselowski’s quest to conquer Michigan.
Busch captures first win of season
Kurt Busch catapulted past Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Chase Elliott on the final restart and led the last 32 laps while conserving fuel to capture his first win of the season in the Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400 at Pocono Raceway.
With the victory, Busch became the ninth different winner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, and as a result, clinched the ninth berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
The win was Busch’s third at Pocono. His Tricky Triangle triumphs have all been with different teams and manufacturers: Stewart-Haas Racing (2016, Chevrolet), Team Penske (2007, Dodge) and Roush Fenway Racing (2005, Ford).
Busch rides an eight-race top-10 streak into Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway – the longest current run in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
He is the defending spring winner at MIS and boasts three checkered flags, five top fives and 10 top 10s in 30 starts at the two-mile track.
The No. 41 Chevrolet driver leads the NSCS with 12 top 10s in 14 starts this season. He ranks second in total points, 25 markers behind his SHR teammate Kevin Harvick. Brad Keselowski trails Busch in third by 23 points.
Series features 9 different winners through 14 races
Nine different drivers have won a race through the first 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series contests of 2016: Kyle Busch (3), Brad Keselowski (2), Carl Edwards (2), Jimmie Johnson (2), Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.
There have been three new winners the last three races: Matt Kenseth (Dover), Martin Truex Jr. (Charlotte) and Kurt Busch (Pocono).
Only two drivers who won a race last year still haven’t visited Victory Lane in 2016: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano.
A victory all but assures a driver a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Fourteen currently winless drivers have captured checkered flags on at least one of the 12 tracks leading up to the playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway: Earnhardt, Logano, Tony Stewart, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Regan Smith, David Ragan, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola.
Parity rules at Michigan
Fans at Michigan International Speedway have witnessed a different winner in each of the last six races there: Greg Biffle (June 2013), Joey Logano (August 2013), Jimmie Johnson (June 2014), Jeff Gordon (August 2014), Kurt Busch (June 2015) and Matt Kenseth (August 2015).
A seventh new winner could be one of NASCAR’s young upstarts looking for his first win: Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon (finished a then-career-best fourth at Michigan last year), Kyle Larson or Ryan Blaney.
It could also be a driver who has previously won at the two-mile track, but not in the past three years: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart or Kevin Harvick.
Jamie McMurray leads active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Michigan without visiting Victory Lane (26), followed by Casey Mears (25).
Kenseth heads to top track in good form
Matt Kenseth carries a four-race streak of finishing seventh or better at Michigan International Speedway where he has won three times, including the last race held there in August of 2015.
In addition to his three wins in The Great Lakes State, Kenseth also claims 14 top fives (first among active drivers) and 20 tops 10s (tied with Tony Stewart for first among active drivers) in 33 starts there.
The No. 20 Toyota pilot leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Michigan driver rating (104.2) and ranks second in average running position (10.9) and average finish (10.8).
Kenseth led 31 laps on Monday at Pocono before finishing seventh.
Elliott joins legendary company
He came up just short of his first win again, but Sunoco Rookie of the Year frontrunner Chase Elliott continued to impress at Pocono on Monday.
The No. 24 Chevrolet driver led a race-high 51 laps and posted the day’s best driver rating (130.9) on his way to a fourth-place finish – his fifth top-five showing and 10th top-10 result of the season.
Elliott’s five top fives through the first 14 races of his rookie season are the most by a rookie since NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt achieved the feat in 1979.
His 10 top 10s through 14 races are the most since six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson posted the same total his rookie season in 2002.
Earnhardt won one race in his rookie campaign, while Johnson visited Victory Lane three times.
Elliott leads second-place Ryan Blaney by 39 points in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. Blaney, who finished 10th at Pocono, claims six top 10s on the season.
If the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup began today, Elliott (10th on the Chase Grid, 79 points above the cutoff) and Blaney (15th, +6) would both make it. The only rookie to ever qualify for NASCAR’s playoffs was Denny Hamlin in 2006.
Biffle hopes to bounce back
Greg Biffle hasn’t won a race in nearly three years, not since he took the checkered flag at Michigan International Speedway on June 16, 2013 – 107 starts ago.
He gets the chance to turn his performance around at his top track in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at MIS. In 26 starts at the two-mile oval, Biffle claims an active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series-high four wins, and boasts 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes.
Biffle leads active drivers at Michigan in average running position (10.8) and ranks second in driver rating (101.8) and laps led (593).
The No. 16 Ford driver’s highest finish this season was an 11th-place showing at Charlotte. He sits 25th on the Chase Grid, 93 points below Ryan Newman on the cutoff line.
His Roush Fenway Racing team’s 13 wins at Michigan are the most in NASCAR history.
Hendrick Motorsports exhibits power
Hendrick Motorsports showed no ill effects from racing a day late at Pocono.
The organization placed three of its four drivers in the top six in Monday’s Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (second), Chase Elliott (fourth) and Kasey Kahne (sixth).
Jimmie Johnson, a two-time winner this season, finished 35th following a late-race accident.
Earnhardt’s four runner-ups this season lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
HMS heads to Michigan International Speedway next, where Earnhardt (two wins), Kahne and Johnson have all visited Victory Lane.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Etc.
Previous winners can clinch chase berth
Six currently winless drivers who have won at Michigan can capture a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with another checkered flag there this weekend: Greg Biffle (4 wins), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2), Ryan Newman (2), Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano and Tony Stewart.
Tate taps in as grand marshal
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate will serve as grand marshal for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speeway. Tate, who is represented by Kevin Harvick’s KHI Management group, upset then-champ Holly Holm in March in UFC 196 in Las Vegas. Coincidentally, NASCAR was in the city on the same weekend and Tate came out for the race that Sunday…
Fans to enjoy racing, music festival
Music festival experience Keloorah will take place at Michigan International Speedway this weekend along with the two NASCAR races. Musical performances on Friday and Sunday night include: GROUPLOVE, Third Eye Blind, Fitz and the Tantrums, Andy Grammer, The Neighbourhood, Elle King, and Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers. Fans at Keloorah can also play paintball, use a Roush Fenway Racing simulator and visit an on-site arcade.