NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Michigan Summer Race Edition

Jeff Gordon – Gordon has two wins at Michigan, with the most recent triumph coming in 2001. Overall, he has 20 top-10 finishes in 29 Cup starts in the Irish Hills, with an average finish of 10th… not too shabby.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin has run moderately well at Michigan in his short career, with all three of his Cup finishes here falling between ninth and 14th place.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth won this race last year, then crashed and burned to 42nd here in June. That finish was only the second time in the last nine Michigan Cup races that Kenseth failed to score a top-10 result. He also won here in 2002.

Tony Stewart – Stewart won here in 2000 and has top-10 results in eight of the last 10 Michigan Cup races. He also finished third in the last two Cup races run here… and oh yeah, he’s won three of the last four Cup races to date.

Carl Edwards – Edwards won here in June and has top fives in four of his six career starts in the Irish Hills, giving him a seventh-place average finish at the track. With Roush Fenway Racing the winner of six of the last 11 Cup races at Michigan, Edwards is bound to be a favorite to complete the sweep.

Jeff Burton – Who knows what Burton’s car will look like this weekend, but if history’s any indication, you won’t be seeing it running up front. Burton hasn’t managed a top-10 finish at Michigan since 2002, and he has just four top-five results here in 27 starts. Ouch.

NEFF: FANTASY PICKS ‘N’ PANS FOR MICHIGAN

Jimmie Johnson – Michigan has been one of Johnson’s weakest tracks on the circuit. He has just three top-10 finishes in 11 starts here, averaging a mediocre 16th-place finish.

Kyle Busch – Despite his sixth-place run here in June, Busch is averaging a 22nd-place finish after five Michigan Cup starts. He did win a Busch Series race here in 2004, though, so he probably doesn’t need a Garmin to navigate the track.

Clint Bowyer – Bowyer took to Michigan like a trout to the trombone with two 30-something finishes here last year. He rebounded somewhat to come home 16th back in June.

Kevin Harvick – While he finished second here in 2003, this track hasn’t been made Harvick all that Happy. He has just two top-five finishes and a total of five top 10s in 13 career Michigan Cup starts. He did win a Busch Series race here in 2003… but doesn’t he win one everywhere?

Martin Truex Jr. – Truex led 54 laps here in June en route to a second-place finish, his best performance at Michigan to date.

Kurt Busch – Busch won a Cup race here in 2003, but that was his only top-five result at Michigan. He’s averaging a 20th-place finish over 13 starts throughout his career at the track.

Ryan Newman – Newman won back-to-back races in the Irish Hills back in 2003-04, but he has been locked out of the top 10 in the six races run here since.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – While Junior’s struggled at Michigan early in his career – going nearly three full years before scoring a top-10 finish at the track – he appears to have turned things around at the 2-mile oval as of late. The No. 8 car has finished in the top 10 in each of the last three Michigan Cup races.

Greg Biffle – Biffle won back-to-back races here in 2004 and 2005, the highlight of top-10 results in six of his nine Cup starts at Michigan. On the downside, he finished 38th here in June. Biffle also won two Truck races here and finished second in a Busch Series race.

Casey Mears – While he’s averaging a 19th-place finish at Michigan, Mears did come away with a solid fourth-place result here in June.

Jamie McMurray – McMurray’s eighth-place finish here in June was just his second top-10 result in nine Michigan Cup starts. That’s not going to get your face plastered on a box of Wheaties anytime soon.

Mark Martin – Martin has won four Cup races at Michigan, with the most recent coming in 1998. (Wait a second; someone besides Gordon won a race back in 1998? Oh yeah, right). After 43 Cup starts at Michigan, Martin has scored 27 top-10 finishes and averages about a 12th-place result each race.

Juan Pablo Montoya – It’s almost inevitable Montoya will score his career-best finish at Michigan this weekend. After all, he’s only started one race, and in that he crashed out en route to a 43rd-place finish. The Colombian called it his worst race of the year in an ESPN pre-race interview on Sunday, so clearly, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Bobby Labonte – Labonte has three victories at Michigan to go along with top-10 results in half of his 30 Cup starts. But in the last six races at this track, Labonte hasn’t finished better than 14th.

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