The Frontstretch: Race Trax: GFS Marketplace 400 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Thursday August 17, 2006

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Race Trax: GFS Marketplace 400

Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday August 17, 2006

 

On Track

The GFS Marketplace 400 is the twenty-third race on the 36-race NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Schedule. This is the second and final visit for the Nextel Cup Series to the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway in 2006 – they ran here in June. Michigan has hosted the Nextel Cup Series since 1969, when Cup racing was still called the Grand National Series; Cale Yarborough was the first driver to win in Cup competition at the track. The two mile superspeedway has 18 degrees of banking in each turn. Drivers will race 200 laps to the checkered flag.

47 teams will compete for 43 starting spots for Sunday, with the Top 35 in car owner points guaranteed a starting position. Qualifying runs consist of two laps, with the fastest lap setting a team's time. The Nextel Cup Series qualifying record at Michigan is 194.232 mph, set by Ryan Newman in 2005. The entry list includes the winner of the June race, Kasey Kahne, but defending race winner Jeremy Mayfield is not entered.

What To Expect

Michigan is a large, fast, and unpredictable track. Racing usually falls into one of two extremes : you might see a lot of green flag racing, or you might see several cautions. Michigan is one of the tracks where the SAFER barriers are more important, as it’s one of the faster tracks on the circuit (185 mph qualifying speeds) and simply because many times when a caution comes out, it is for drivers wrecking hard into the outside wall; it’s hard to wreck here and not hit anything. When green flag racing takes control here, racing at Michigan usually becomes a fuel mileage race.

Qualifying is pretty important at Michigan. Only 14 of 74 races have been won from a starting position outside the Top 10, and 49 races have been won from a Top 5 starting position.

Who to Watch

Greg Biffle won the June race last year, and it’s hard not to pick him as a threat Sunday afternoon. Biffle has two wins and four Top 5 finishes in seven starts at Michigan. He has also completed 1328 of 1329 (99.9%) laps run at Michigan in the last 7 years.

Kasey Kahne has started only five races at Michigan and has three Top 5 finishes to show for it, including a win at the race in June. Look for Kahne to turn his recent struggles around with a dominant car Sunday.

Coming off of a win at Watkins Glen last weekend, you can’t count Kevin Harvick out. Although he only has two Top 5 finishes in 11 starts, Harvick and the 29 team have been running with quiet consistency. They’ve brought home 10 Top 5 finishes this season, five of which have been in the last five races. Harvick finished tenth here in June.

Did You Know:

  • Michigan International Speedway has been the home of the state’s largest single day paid admission sporting event since 1992?
  • Charles Moneypenny (the designer of Michigan) also designed Daytona International Speedway?
  • Michigan added 870 seats and a Champions Club in 2005?

You Don't Say…

“We have fought communication and attitude issues kind of all year. I believe a fresh attitude with perspective, a different view on things, it can help.” Ray Evernham on signing Elliott Sadler

“As far as my differences and why I left [RYR], I just want to keep it at that. I’m not going to air my dirty laundry with anybody in that situation. I just want to talk about moving forward. We know we have a lot of work to do. I’m not saying we’re going to show up [at Michigan] and blow everybody away, but we think we’ve got a lot of tools to work with.’’ Elliott Sadler on changing teams

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
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