You can call it “The Wolverine State”, “The Great Lakes State”, home to “Motor City” or plain ol’ Michigan. Twice a year, Michigan International Speedway, the fastest track in NASCAR, welcomed the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for this past Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
Who had the throttle pedal nailed to the floorboard this past weekend?
On The Gas…
5) Chris Buescher – After a solid run at Watkins Glen, Buescher and his JTG Daugherty Racing team backed up that performance with a season best sixth place finish.
4) Trevor Bayne – Ford fans have always expected to see the No. 6 up front. At last, we are seeing more of it as of late. Bayne had some bad luck. However, in Ford’s backyard, he brought the black No. 6 home in the fifth spot as he tries to join his teammate in the playoffs.
3) Ryan Newman – The faster they go, the more likely you are to see “The Rocketman” up front. Newman scored his fifth top-five of the season at Michigan. His most recent top-fives were at Indy, Daytona, and Dover since his win at Phoenix earlier in the year. The No. 31 RCR Chevy is showing speed at a good time.
2) Martin Truex Jr. – A case could easily be made for Truex to hold the top spot this week. But when you get schooled on a restart the way he did, maybe he wasn’t “on the gas” as much as he should have been.
Another stage win for Truex at Michigan, and a couple more of those over the next three weeks, and who knows, we may see him sit on the pit box and ice cream one weekend and still win the title.
1) Kyle Larson – Who else? After a restart that will be shown in rookie meetings, his brave move will be in the dictionary. Larson was easily tops and the hardest on the gas this week. Who cares that he only two laps? They were the right ones and they came with quality.
With highlight reel performances in the Irish Hills, who left thinking, “Maybe next week?”
On The Brakes…
5) Matt Kenseth – Help, I’m falling! That may have been heard on that final restart. With a chance to win, Kenseth loses 21 points on the final restart as a tire went down, making the next three races critical as he holds a 31 point edge for the final playoff spot. I can hear the echo like a canyon “falling, falling, falling.”
4) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – When it comes to the Roush Fenway Racing cars, one’s up, one’s down. This week for Stenhouse, the speed must have been left at the shop, or doubled up in his teammates car. A rough weekend left Driver 17 in 18th.
3) Kevin Harvick – He didn’t like the sunshine, didn’t like the strategy, didn’t like the handling of his car and apparently didn’t like Blaney. Harvick just didn’t like the day at Michigan as he would come home 14th.
2) Joey Logano – He needs a true win to make the playoffs. With just three races to go, it’s looking bleak, and it sounded like that when he said “there just wasn’t much good” even after starting on the outside pole. They need speed moving forward and Logano said they just didn’t have it.
1) Kasey Kahne – After crashing on lap 138 in a bizarre accident with Daniel Suarez, Kahne may have still be thinking about the shocking news that he won’t be back. Apparently, it was shocking to him, but not to the rest of us.
A slide job gone wrong and I’m betting he didn’t watch the rest of the race on the flight home. That Indy win might as well have been in the days of chariot races, as it goes to the roller coaster of emotions for the current driver of the No. 5.
Misery loves company and there was plenty of it on the downside of the Pure Michigan 400. Some even filtered over to Twitter, which is why that is more entertaining than NBC’s post race coverage.
Things are picking up, especially in the stress levels as the series heads to Bristol.
Thunder Valley, here we come.