NASCAR’s second attempt with the high-drag package at Michigan International Speedway last weekend was well, a drag. Drivers experienced difficulty passing and ill-handling cars when they ran in a pack, all issues faced a few weeks earlier at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Prior to the start of the race, NASCAR confiscated the splitters of both Penske cars, the No. 2 of Brad Keselowski and No. 22 of Joey Logano, and took them back to the Research and Development Center for a closer look. The drivers were able to keep their original starting positions.
There’s no doubt that Joe Gibbs Racing has been dominant over the last several weeks, and it is not only due to Kyle Busch’s incredible return. As a team, Joe Gibbs Racing has won five out of the last six races. The fifth came when Matt Kenseth sailed his way to a victory in Michigan last weekend. After capturing the pole, the No. 20 car carried speed throughout the entire weekend, and quickly became the buzz in the garage amongst competitors. It was no surprise on Sunday when Kenseth, along with him teammates, were near the front in contention for the win. Sunday’s win became Kenseth’s third this season and third at Michigan. Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.
Leaving Michigan, Kevin Harvick remains the points leader and Kyle Buschs remains eligible for the Chase by holding the 29th spot.
In other NASCAR news this week, Silly Season heats up with the announcement that Michael Waltrip Racing and Clint Bowyer have agreed to part ways after the 2015 season. Bowyer will be eligible to pursue other opportunities, but Michael Waltrip Racing has no plans to field a full-time Sprint Cup Series team in 2016.
Danica Patrick made headlines this week with the announcement of a new sponsor. Nature’s Bakery will be the primary sponsor on her No. 10 car for twenty-eight races in 2016. Stewart Haas Racing also announced a multi-year contract extension for Patrick.
This weekend, NASCAR spends its days nestled in the rolling hills of East Tennessee, home to Bristol Motor Speedway. Known as the “Last Great Colosseum,” Bristol exudes a feeling that no other track can provide. Measuring just over a half-mile in length and with a seating capacity near 160,000, this high-banked, fast track always provides great short track action. The Irwin Tools Night Race is an event that is often referred to as a thing to see before you die. Saturday’s night race will be memorable when Jeff Gordon returns to the track for his final Bristol race and the return of his iconic rainbow paint scheme.
Years ago, there was one main racing groove, making it difficult to pass. Since the track was repaved, it is common for drivers to run two wide on this track, but it is still difficult to advance positions on this track. Expect no lack of excitement on this track, and as we approach Chase time, the on track drama will only increase. This week’s Fast Five is based on drivers’ past performances on this track.
The Fast Five for Bristol includes: Matt Kenseth, who is undeniably dominant right now and won the Spring race at Bristol; Jeff Gordon, who has had a tough season, but is a five-time winner at Bristol and posted a third place finish in the Spring race; Kyle Busch, who has made incredible gains since his return and is a five-time previous winner at Bristol; Brad Keselowski, who is a previous winner at Bristol and is consistently a top contender at this track; and Kurt Busch, who had a great run in the Spring race until he was collected in an accident and is also a five-time winner at this track. In addition to the Fast Five, never count out Kevin Harvick, and keep an eye on Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as a dark horse this weekend.
Tune into the race Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN.