Previewing the Pure Michigan 400
by Matt Taliaferro and Nathan Rush
Race: Pure Michigan 400
Location: Brooklyn, Mich.
When: Sunday, Aug. 21
TV: ESPN (1:00 p.m. EST)
2010 Winners: Denny Hamlin (June), Kevin Harvick (Aug.)
June 2011 Winner: Denny Hamlin
Specs: 2-mile D-shaped oval; Banking/Turns: 18°; Banking/Frontstretch: 12°; Banking/Backstretch: 5°
Race Length: 400 miles/200 laps
Track Qualifying Record: 194.232 mph (Ryan Newman, 2005)
Race Record: 173.997 mph (Dale Jarrett, 1999)
From the Spotter's Stand
Denny Hamlin had one Heluva Good! run at the June 2010 race with the sour cream dip sponsor, leading 123 of 200 laps and cruising to his second straight win — after taking the checkers at Pocono the week before — with a 1.246-second margin over runner-up Kasey Kahne and pole-sitter Kurt Busch (60 laps led).
The August trip in 2010 to the 2-mile oval in Brooklyn, Mich., was a little more exciting. Kevin Harvick became the first driver to clinch a spot in the Chase after outdueling runner-up Hamlin, passing the 11 ride on Lap 190 before taking a 1.731-second victory. Despite not taking tires on the final caution, Harvick was able to handle well enough for his first MIS win.
Earlier this season, it was Hamlin again finding Victory Lane. Although Greg Biffle led the most laps (68), but Hamlin's FedEx crew got the No. 11 Toyota on track first under a round of yellow-flag stops with under 10 laps remaining. He then outran Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards to grab his one and only win of the year thus far.
Crew Chief’s Take
“Michigan is a track that demands a driver hit his marks lap after lap, setting the car up for a run into the next corner. If the momentum is lost, the lap time goes with it. A delicate combination of balance, using downforce and grip, ultimately separates the contenders from the mid-packers. Drivers love Michigan, and a large part of that is because it’s easy. It’s wall-to-wall racing. The driver can run low, high or in the middle. It’s easy to pass. It’s not the fans’ idea of a perfect track, but it’s pretty close for the drivers. Michigan’s pavement has very low grip, but it’s not too big a problem because the track is so wide and there’s so much room.”
Looking at Checkers: Carl Edwards’ 12 top 10s in 14 starts (two wins) at MIS is ridiculous.
Pretty Solid Pick: Carl’s Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth.
Good Sleeper Pick: Red Bull Racing’s Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers could turn heads here, as each has one Michigan win already on the resume.
Runs on Seven Cylinders: Despite being red hot lately, Brad Keselowski has been ice cold at his home track.
Insider Tip: Fuel mileage will come into play. Know which teams get good MPG and have crafty crew chiefs.
Classic Moments at Michigan
It’s Awesome Bill’s most awesome performance at what may be his best racetrack, as Bill Elliott drives the iconic No. 9 Coors Melling Thunderbird to its fourth consecutive win at Michigan in the 1986 Champion Spark Plug 400.
Elliott leads 125 of 200 laps in an event that isn’t without controversy. A hard-charging Tim Richmond falls from second to fifth late in the race after confusion over when a caution is displayed. Richmond races back to second after the restart but is not able to run Elliott down on the last lap.
The race is also notable in that David Pearson makes his final NASCAR start. Pearson, who won a record nine races at MIS, finishes 10th in the No. 21 Chattanooga Chew Chevy.