Podium Preview: Consumers Energy 400

In the words of Paul Draper, Sunday's Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan offers wide open spaces. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

In the words of Paul Draper, Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan offers wide open spaces. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

After 22 rounds into this season, NASCAR drivers and teams prepare for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan.  For the most part, this annual summertime race at this two-mile superspeedway couldn’t differ greatly from its springtime date.

Altogether, the VHT/PJ1 track substance adorns the high lanes of this 51-year-old venue.  With this in mind, the hopes are for side-by-side action and various options that’ll thwart the dreaded aero push.

Conversely, the Consumers Energy 400 provides another opportunity for potential NASCAR Playoffs contenders like Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, and Clint Bowyer.  Certainly, these three past track winners want another victory in the Wolverine State.

With that, our columnists, Ashley HobbsChristina BowmanCody Shoppe, Danielle Lockemy, Jose Acero JrKobe LambethMatt SisolerStephen Conley, and Tanner Brown and yours truly ruminate about the angst prevalent at Watkins Glen, NBC’s neat camera angle and gambles, and the VHT/PJ1 track substance at Michigan!

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Question 1
"When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master."

“When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.”

We saw tempers flare at Watkins Glen, namely with Kyle Busch tangling with William Byron and Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney with Jimmie Johnson.  Sooner or later, might we see some of this carryover at Michigan or another race weekend?

Brown : I find it hard to believe that there will be any type of carry over at a track like Michigan. It’s a blazing fast track, and trying to intentional dump or wreck someone at that track can cause both driver’s day to end. If there is some carry over from tempers flaring at Watkins Glen, I see it happening next week during the Bristol night race.

Cassidy :  I feel like you might see Kyle Busch hang onto a grudge moving into Michigan weekend, but that’s about it. Watkins Glen has a very different feel for most racers than an oval, therefore leaving these feelings behind makes sense.

Hobbs :  Depending on who the drivers are will depend on how long they harbor the grudge. It seems that Watkins Glen ruffled a fair amount of feathers between drivers fans would consider heroes and villains. I think the tangling of Rowdy and Bubby has a much higher chance of carrying over to Michigan, and even further, than Blaney and Johnson.

Shoppe :  Jimmie Johnson certainly hasn’t seemed to have cooled down much since his run-in with Ryan Blaney last week. What continues to fuel his displeasure towards Blaney is that Blaney hasn’t apologized to the seven-time champ. Ryan Blaney has nothing to say sorry about.  But, as the longest- career slump continues for Johnson, his tolerance towards on-track run-ins gets lower. Johnson however is on no place in the standings to take a chance on payback in the next few weeks, but stay tuned! 

Sisoler :  I honestly believed that Johnson and Blaine he would not get over it until at least the end of the year, at least the way they were sniping at each other verbally this weekend. But apparently, they’ve sort of buried the hatchet. As for Kyle Busch and his rivalries with William Byron and Bubba Wallace, who knows. It seems like everything is cool down between the trio of drivers, but with how guys have been running this weekend, don’t be surprised to see the tempers fly. 

Tiongson :  While I don’t think the tensions carryover into Michigan, I wouldn’t be surprised for some paybacks at Bristol or another race down the road. I will say it’s good to see drivers starting to stand up for themselves and talking after making some contact on the track. It just seemed odd to see Kyle Busch race with a mentality where he was more concerned with paint trading versus doing what he typically does, which is focus on maximum points.

Question 2

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NBC utilized a unique camera angle in the Inner Loop providing more of a wide perspective of the action at Watkins Glen.  Should NASCAR’s TV partners continue to experiment with new camera angles to emphasize the speed and action?

Acero :  Personally, I loved that angle! The best part was seeing the cars go airborne over the chicanes! NBC is a step ahead of all its competitors (not saying FOX isn’t trying new stuff) with all the outside their comfort zone ideas. It’s gonna be interesting to see what next season on FOX will look like as far new views for us fans! Until then, let’s enjoy all the great NBC angles. 

Bowman :  YES! I loved not seeing the same pan shots throughout the race. That angle brought drama and a new perspective to viewers at home. The more drama and action we can create for our TV viewers, the more entertained they will be and maybe we will retain more fans. Whoever hatched up that idea is an all around winner. 

Conley :  I loved that speed shot, it was a new perspective that really showed how fast the cars were going through the innerloop. I like how NBC is thinking outside of the box on views, and trying to change it up.

But, with that said, there is a limit on what they can do and how it can be done with the size of the race track. I think NBC and FOX both are experimenting with new ways to bring the race closer to the fans and give them unique perspectives.

I figure Bristol or Martinsville will have the entire track circled with those new 360 degree freeze action cameras that some live TV events are using. You never know what’s next. Maybe put a camera on a photographer that’s shooting a race from a photo hole. Who knows.

Lambeth :  Absolutely! The new camera angle at Watkins Glen gave viewers a different perspective of the action at the Inner Loop. After seeing the same angles year-after-year, it honestly gets old over time. Without a doubt, we needed some fresh air. I think everyone would benefit from new angles at other tracks as well.

Lockemy :  Yes, the unique camera angles give the fans watching at home a different perspective. Using such unique angles sets NBC apart from FOX. I hope both will continue to try different camera angles. 

Question 3

"<yoastmark

In the meantime, the traction compound will be applied on Michigan International Speedway.  Correspondingly, will this help the on track action at MIS?

Brown :  It’s tough to say if it will help a track like Michigan. With the poor racing we saw there in June, I think NASCAR was forced to try the traction compound this weekend. From the racing it has produced in the past few weeks, I am optimistic that it will improve the on track product.

Cassidy : After the racing we saw in June, I am a little disappointed in NASCAR’s decision. The new aero package was supposed to solve these problems and I believe teams and fans liked the racing we saw earlier in the year. I am interested to see how much of a difference this makes.

Lambeth : To be honest, I am not really sure if it will make a difference yet. Hopefully the on-track product will improve slightly. I think it is best to take a wait-and-see approach.

Sisoler :  I think it might help a bit. As much as I love my home track, the racing in June was fairly one-sided, and while that might’ve been good for Joey Logano and the 22 crew, it kind of made the race a bit boring because unless it was coming on a restart, drivers were kind of stuck in line unfortunately. We’ll have to see if the PJ1 helps the racing this weekend.

Tiongson :  In this case, I’m glad to see tracks trying hard to improve the action for drivers and fans. However, I wished the VHT/PJ1 was applied to the middle grooves as well. Maybe it’ll activate as the race goes on like we’ve seen in prior races this year. To me, the Michigan race in June wasn’t too bad but drivers needed other options to combat the aero push. Perhaps we’ve found the answer and we will find out on Sunday.

Three laps around Michigan are truly an experience!  By the same token, let’s rewind to last Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen with our race and points reports!
MTJ made quite a few folks happy for Round 22.

MTJ made quite a few folks happy for Round 22.

"<yoastmark

Correspondingly, Ashley Hobbs swings by with her Crunching the Numbers segment, Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan style!

s Energy 400 at Michigan offers wide open spaces. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Comparatively, how does your favorite team fare at Michigan?

Comparatively, how does your favorite team fare at Michigan?

Interestingly, the race winner's average starting spot is 9.7 while leading an average of 56.7 laps at Michigan.

Interestingly, the race winner’s average starting spot is 9.7 while leading an average of 56.7 laps at Michigan.

MTJ picked a great place for his 500th Cup start.

Now, here's the trends at Michigan since 2009.

Now, here’s the trends at Michigan since 2009.

Moreover, here's the trends at Michigan since 2014.

Moreover, here’s the trends at Michigan since 2014.

Of course, Elliott may reign supreme on Sunday!

Of course, Elliott may reign supreme on Sunday!

At last, we’ll drop the hammer and reveal our picks for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan!
As seen above, these six may make Michigan magic.

As seen above, these six may make Michigan magic.

Hobbs :  Riding high and intending to keep it that way is Chase Elliott.

TPF Stats :  Chase Elliott has the best average finish in the Consumers Energy 400, and happens to be the most recent winner with his victory at Watkins Glen. Look for him to carry those stats into this weekend.

Acero :  Chase Elliott wins! 

Bowman :  Momentum is a huge part of the sport and Chase Elliott has it after last weekend!

Brown :  I think Chase Elliott rides the wave of momentum to victory lane this weekend.

Cassidy :  Joey Logano.

Conley :  Joey Logano takes the broom and cleans up in Michigan.

Lockemy :  William Byron.

Shoppe :  William Byron.

Lambeth :  Two-mile Kyle Larson wins it!

Sisoler :  Track position at Michigan is vitally important. And if we get long green flag runs like we did last time, even with the additional PJ1 layer NASCAR is putting down, it will be more vital than ever.  

As much as I’d like to say it’ll be a Michigan-born driver winning, the odds, and the stats from the practices, don’t look good for that. I’m thinking The Closer returns, and no I don’t mean Kyra Sedgwick. Kevin Harvick will repeat in the Irish Hills!

Tiongson :  Kurt Busch improves on his June race finish by one spot and earns his second win of 2019.

Race fans, thanks for joining us for our preview of the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into Sunday’s race and who is your favorite to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  We hope to see you at the races in 2019. 

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes and are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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