Saturday, June 14, 2014

Final Michigan Practice Notes: Chevy flexes their muscles again

Kevin Harvick is going to be tough to beat Sunday at Michigan
LAS VEGAS -- Last week we were blown away by the superiority of Chevy during the Pocono practices, and while Ford gave a strong fight during the race with Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his Chevy came away with the win. This week at Michigan, things are a little bit different. Chevy looks to be even stronger with a few more quality candidates having a chance to win.

All the same cast of Chevy characters from last week were flexing their muscles during Saturday's final practices at Michigan International Speedway, except a few more candidates with Hendrick Chevy engines were added to the mix. Kevin Harvick was again fastest in the 10-consecutive lap category during both sessions, but joining the party with fast speeds was Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson, both of whom have the look of possibly getting their first win of the season.

For Larson, who grabbed his third top-5 finish of the season last week at Pocono, it would be his first career win. His best finish of the season was second-place at Fontana, which is the sister track of Michigan. Both tracks run vastly different, but both are wide 2-mile D-Shaped ovals.

The perfect example of Michigan not necessarily correlating well with Fontana is Jimmie Johnson, who has five wins in 20 Fontana starts, but none in 24 starts at Michigan. It's one of only five tracks that Johnson has never tamed. During final practices, Johnson was strong and posted the fast speed in the early session. He's driving his winning Coca-Cola 600 chassis from last month and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him finally check this track off his 'things to do' list.

I came into the week thinking that Ford would show up simply because they always do at Michigan. Jack Roush has a track record 13 wins as an owner at his home track and the Penske cars have been great all season on down-force tracks. But the manufacturer collectively laid an egg during the sessions, which isn't good news for the brand because all the executives from the manufacturers will be seated high above in their luxury boxes. This race is like the Super Bowl of manufacturers, and right now all the guys with bow-ties (Chevy) have the smug look of knowing they are going to be better in this round of competition on Sunday.

Jeff Gordon hasn't won at Michigan since 2001, but he's been strong all season on the down-force tracks, including his win at Kansas, which some drivers say compares the best to Michigan.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. should be feeling pretty good about his chances Sunday because Michigan was the only track he won at for Hendrick Motorsports prior to this season. Now he's got just as many wins in 2014 -- two -- as he had from 2008-13.

While I'd like to believe that the cat in the hat (Jack Roush) has something up his sleeve for this race, speed is speed and there is no way to hide it. Ten of the top 13 fastest laps during 'happy hour' were from Chevy, and none of the others were from Ford (Keselowski 14th). If a Ford were to win, it would be the equivalent of a 14-point underdog winning outright.

Read More Here......Final Michigan Driver Ratings

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