Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Kevin Harvick is 7/2 favorite to win first race of 2019 at Sonoma

Taking it Back to 1995… 

Kevin Harvick won at Sonoma in 1998 Winston West race.
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (June 18, 2019) – From 1989 to 1997, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California used its full, 12-turn road course, which featured a sweeping sequence of turns called “The Carousel.”

The Carousel, part of the full Sonoma layout originally unveiled when the track opened in 1968, plunges from turn four down through turns five and six and navigates a more than 200-degree radius turn before dropping onto Sonoma’s longest straightaway from the turn-seven hairpin.

NASCAR first utilized the full 12-turn road course during its first Pacific Coast Late Model Division race at what was then called Sears Point Raceway in 1969 and on through numerous Cup Series, West Series, Southwest Series and Truck Series events until 1997. Since 1998, NASCAR had competed on a shorter, 1.99-mile configuration that bypassed The Carousel by connecting turns four and seven and calling it “The Chute.”

The full track is back for 2019 and only three active NASCAR drivers have experienced The Carousel at Sonoma Raceway.

Kyle Busch drove a Legends car there in 1998 and Jimmie Johnson drove it once in a driving school.
But Kevin Harvick may have the most “experience.”

Harvick started 31st and finished 35th, completing only 18 of the 50 laps in the 1995 Budweiser 200 NASCAR Southwest Tour Series race. He was driving the No. 55 Foster’s Freeze Chevrolet, which had engine problems early in the race.

The event was conducted on May 6, 1995 and it’s interesting to note where everyone was 24 years ago. Harvick’s team co-owner Gene Haas was continuing to build Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America but hadn’t formed a NASCAR team, yet.

Harvick’s other team co-owner Tony Stewart just started his successful quest to the win the United States Auto Club triple-crown, which meant winning the title in the sanctioning body’s Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget divisions.

Crew chief Rodney Childers was highly successful in karting, driving for a factory team with which he would win two national championships and three state championships.

Who knew that all four would come together years later to form a championship team?

Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at this weekend’s SaveMart 350k at Sonoma, and he’ll do so with Mobil 1 technology on board as a sponsor and technical partner.

Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR organization with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track. In its 17th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.

It’s been a long time since May 6, 1995. “This is how we do it,” by Montell Jordan was the No. 1 song, gas was $1.14 a gallon and Seinfeld was No. 1 on television.

But no one knew on May 6, 1995, that Haas, Stewart, Harvick and Childers would form one of the great teams in the long history of the NASCAR Cup Series.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Why do you prefer Mobil 1 synthetic?

“I’m a synthetic guy because, in 1993, when we were sitting in the engine shop, we dumped Mobil 1 synthetic in and that’s all we did and gained seven horsepower. From that day on, we would actually save our money and then go to the local auto parts store because, at that time, it was like $5.50 a quart and the conventional and other oils were like $3.50. At the big races, we would put the Mobil 1 in the car, and for the regular races we would put the regular oil in there. You know I’m going to say synthetic.”

Does your strategy change at Sonoma with the additional of The Carousel?

“I was in the simulator last week and got lost a couple of times – forgot where to turn. It is a lot different than I remember it from 1995. I told some of the guys in our organization that the last time I was there and ran this particular course, the course we have been running wasn’t even there. There was a mountain in the middle of the racetrack. A lot has changed. Running that portion of the racetrack, the lap time is longer and there are some different corners to deal with and, from (turn) 3B all the way through four, through The Carousel and the exit of it and what is a different turn seven than the one we have been racing, which was actually turn five. It depends how you count the corners. I love the fact, and honestly this was a conversation that Marcus Smith and I had at lunch one day and I asked why we don’t just run The Carousel and how cool it would be to throw it back. An hour later, he told me he talked to his guys and they were looking into it. Next thing you know we are running The Carousel. I love the fact they are changing it up. I think Watkins Glen could do the same thing. It seems like SMI is more aggressive in these types of situations with changing things up and trying new things and doing things more on the edge of not knowing what the outcome is going to be. As we have seen with the Roval (at Charlotte) and with the changes at Sonoma, to my knowledge I have never seen ISC do anything to their racetracks like SMI has done to several of their racetracks to try and improve the racing. I don’t think they are as worried about the life of their asphalt as they are the quality of the race. We have just seen them make a lot more aggressive changes in the things they have done on the SMI side.”

Kyle Busch is 6/1 to win 2019 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

Carousel of Progress

Kyle Busch leads active drivers with four road course wins.
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (June 18, 2019) – The carousel, which later evolved into one of the oldest forms of amusement park rides, was actually first developed in the 12th century to be a high-intensity training exercise. Horsemen would ride around in circles trying to wack their opponents with a perfume-infused ball, much different than what we know a modern carousel to be.

The modern carousel, originated in the early 19th century, is a rotating circular platform whose “seats” are made to look like horses and various other animals, vehicles, and other imaginative objects. They are common staples at amusement parks, zoos and other family entertainment areas throughout the United States and the world.

While carousels were very popular in the United States at the 20th century, the Great Depression caused many to cease operation and others to be destroyed. When the economy finally recovered, technology allowed carousels to be made from aluminum and synthetic materials and, instead of steam-powering them, electric motors were used and many older carousels were refurbished. Of the 4,000 or so carousels built in the United States prior to the Depression, less than 150 survived. 

With this relatively short history in mind, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350k with a much different type of carousel the main topic of discussion as changes to one of the series’ two road courses will be something to watch.

The full Sonoma layout, which was originally unveiled when it opened in 1968, incorporates the raceway’s signature sweeping downhill sequence of corners known as “The Carousel.” It plunges from turn four down through turns five and six and navigates a more than 200-degree radius turn before dropping onto Sonoma’s longest straightaway from the turn-seven hairpin. NASCAR first utilized the full 12-turn road course during its first Pacific Coast Late Model Division race at what was then called Sears Point Raceway in 1969 and on through numerous Cup Series, West Series, Southwest Series and Truck Series events until 1997. Since 1998, NASCAR had competed on a shorter, 1.99-mile configuration that bypassed The Carousel by connecting turns four and seven and calling it “The Chute.”

With the addition of The Carousel to its configuration, the scenic track in Northern California’s Wine Country grows from a 1.99-mile 10 turn road course into a 12-turn, 2.25 mile configuration. Kyle Busch is one of the few active Cup Series drivers to have competed on this weekend’s layout, albeit his experience was in a 1998 Legends race when he was just 13 years old.

No matter the configuration, Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is known to be someone who really enjoys making right and left turns on NASCAR’s road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. To him, it feels like somewhat of a vacation as it’s a vast departure from the ovals that make up the majority of the Cup Series schedule.

Sonoma is one of numerous road courses where Busch has won as he has evolved into a constant threat to win. Before 2008, he received hardly a mention as a threat to win at Sonoma or Watkins Glen. But that changed shortly after his arrival at JGR at the start of 2008, when he promptly dominated the road-course scene, leading 130 of the 202 road-course laps run that year and captured victories at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen. He quickly established himself as a routine road-course contender and has been in the hunt for race wins on road courses ever since. In addition to his two wins at Sonoma in 2008 and 2015, Busch led 29 laps en route bringing home his second win at Watkins Glen in August 2013.

While his road-course success is well documented, Busch’s most memorable road-course win was the 2015 Sonoma event. After sitting out the first 11 NASCAR Cup Series races that season because of injury, he and the M&M’S team had 15 races to meet two requirements in order to make the 2015 playoffs. He needed to have at least one victory, and also needed to make it into the top-30 in driver points.

Busch’s Sonoma race that year was a turning point in his season as he snuck past seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson on a late-race restart to bring home an unlikely win, considering he had to deal with all the shifting and footwork that is required on the tight, twisty road course while still recovering from his leg injuries. It started a remarkable streak of four wins in five weeks, including three in a row at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, and the prestigious Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the season culminated with his first Cup Series championship.

Just 15 races into the 2019 season, Busch has already put together another championship-contending effort with four wins, featuring back-to-back victories at ISM Raceway near Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, along with his wins at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Along with those wins, Busch and the M&M’S Hazelnut Spread team have been incredibly consistent, posting nine top-five finishes and 14 top-10s in the first 15 races as the Cup Series season starts to approach its halfway mark.

So, as they head to their annual stop in Wine Country, Busch and the No. 18 team look to lead the way on the “Carousel of Progress” onto the newly expanded Sonoma road course, hoping it leads to more success throughout the summer months.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Hazelnut Spread Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
What are your expectations for Sonoma with the addition of The Carousel, and will you visit the TRD simulator before the Sonoma race weekend?

“I probably will. I’ve been to the simulator before and I’ve been to the racetrack and it’s hurt me, and I’ve been to the simulator before and been to the racetrack and it’s helped me. It can go either way, just kind of depends. The Carousel coming back, it’s kind of interesting. I thought back about it earlier, or when they made the announcement – you look back to 1998 when they added The Chute and, that was a lot of wasted money because now we’re going back to what it was. Overall, just having The Carousel coming back, I don’t think it’s going to change the racing dynamic a whole lot from what that race looks like. It’s just going to add in – there’s a ramp almost kind of getting into The Carousel. You have to be out of the gas before going up and over that hill, then throttle back into the turn, and that’s what I remember when I ran the course back in 1998 with Legends cars. But these cars are entirely different from Legends cars, so we’re definitely going to have some new learning to do. At least I know where I’m going when I’m down there.”

How challenging is it to race on a road course when you don’t do that on a regular basis?

“It’s different, for sure. There are a lot of guys out there who have the road-racing background, who know a heck of a lot more about road racing and technique than we do. The neat thing about road racing is just being able to have – it’s like – a vacation weekend. You just go out there and have fun and do the best you can and you’ll either do really well or you’ll do really badly and you just go on to the next one. We don’t have a lot of testing for it and you try to pick up on it but, with respect to who you’re racing, you can expect to race a little bit of a different crowd. I think the biggest thing you do for Sonoma is watch some film, look at things from the past few years that have worked and some things that haven’t, and look at what has made you better there. You always have to be mindful of what has made you good there and what you can improve on. Looking forward to heading out there and getting back in the M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Camry and having some fun.”

Is road-course racing something that comes naturally to you, or is it something you had to work on?

“It’s definitely something you have to work on. With rule changes and tire changes, it’s something you work on every year. There’s always change that you have to work on to be competitive. When I was a kid back in Las Vegas in Legends cars, that’s where I was able to learn about shifting and turning left and turning right. I had the natural instincts for it and won a couple of championships in the winter series we had out there. We actually went to Sonoma back then and ran the national championship races two years in a row and finished third both times, so I had a little bit of experience on road courses as I came up through the ranks.”

How special was your 2015 Sonoma win, and what do you remember about it?

“That weekend was certainly a good start to our championship run. To go out there and win the race after where we were after Michigan the previous week, it all gave us the confidence that we still had a shot to win the championship. We thought getting the win would be the hardest part, but it was really not expected at Sonoma. My feet and legs were still recovering and there was a lot of shifting and it was hard on them. With 30 laps to go, it was hurting pretty bad but, when you realize you have a chance to win, it doesn’t hurt as bad. We’ve had times at Sonoma where we’ve been up front and haven’t been able to hold onto it, and other times when we had the right strategy and we were in the right place at the right time. We’ve had some bad luck at times there, as well, so we’re hoping we can get a good run with our M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Camry at Sonoma.”

Describe what it’s like to race at Sonoma and what challenges you face there?

“Sonoma is a neat place. It’s a cool area to go to up into Wine Country. I’ve always enjoyed road-course racing. Even when I was in Legends cars, I would enjoy going up there during the days that I raced there. Now that I’m on the Cup tour, it’s cool to go there every June. It’s a fun racetrack. The cars get grouped a lot closer together there than at Watkins Glen, so braking there is a lot tougher getting into turn four, turn seven, and especially turn 11. There are some opportunities in those corners to pass people. Forward bite seems to have become an issue as you get going there during the run. And you need to make sure you keep the rear tires underneath you because it’s really easy to burn them babies off when you try and pass somebody. You go to pass somebody and hit the gas and all your rear tires want to do is spin and you can’t get alongside that guy. So, from that respect, Sonoma can be frustrating at times, as well. We just want to get in a position to win with our M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Camry, then see how the strategy plays out.”

Monday, June 17, 2019

Clint Bowyer is 6/1 to win 2019 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

Riding the Carousel in Sonoma

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (June 17, 2019) – Clint Bowyer thought Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway was already a perfect fit for his driving style, so he’s admittedly leery about the addition of the “The Carousel” to the circuit’s historic 12-turn, 2.52-mile road-course layout for the Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Save Mart 350k.  

“I’m a little bit torn on this,” Bowyer said. “I was surprised they added The Carousel back to the layout. I’m kind of old-fashioned and thought, you know, if it isn’t broke, why fix it, why touch it? And I didn’t think that track was broke at all. I think the tire and stuff has gotten a little bit too good for a track like that, but I always have thought it’s been a great product for our sport. Who knows, maybe, it’ll make it better and it’s certainly going to make it a longer race.”

The full track layout that will be used this weekend when the NASCAR Cup Series races the Save Mart 350k Sunday was originally unveiled when the facility opened in 1968. It includes the raceway’s signature sweeping downhill corner known as “The Carousel.” It plunges from turn four, down through turns five and six, and navigates a more than 200-degree-radius turn before dropping onto the longest straightaway into the turn-seven hairpin.

Since 1998, NASCAR has competed on a shorter, 1.99-mile configuration, which utilized a bypass connecting turns four and seven known as “The Chute.” Bowyer can make a good case for the old configuration. In 13 career races at the track just north of San Francisco, he owns a victory, eight top-five finishes and 10 top 10s.

The former body shop repairman who grew up amid the wheat fields of Kansas, nowhere near a road course, claims not to know why he runs well at Sonoma. But he can easily tick off what a driver must do to be competitive at Sonoma.

“You have to get yourself right,” he said. “That’s the most important thing to get right. Mental attitude is everything. You have to manage that racetrack, that racecar, and manage traffic, make no mistakes, hit your marks, go easy on your throttle and brake pedals. You really have to take care of those four Goodyear tires because those are what will take you to victory lane if you take care of them.”

Bowyer’s best moment at Sonoma came in June 2012, when he held off Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart, the latter of who now co-owns Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford with Gene Haas. Bowyer dominated the race by leading 70 of the 112 laps. Defending race-winner Busch was all over the bumper of Bowyer’s car late and got a final shot in a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish. Bowyer raced side-by-side with Busch at the green flag, then cleared Busch and pulled away for the win. Bowyer had to walk to victory lane to celebrate with his crew after his car ran out of gas during the cool-down lap. Stewart passed Busch on the final lap to claim second.

Bowyer’s No. 14 team knows a little bit about Sonoma, as well. In addition to second- and third-place finishes with Bowyer in 2017 and 2018, the crew chief Mike Bugarewicz-led unit won the race with Stewart in 2016 in what turned out to be the last of Stewart’s 49 Cup Series wins.

Bowyer believes that, in addition to his on-track success, the race weekend in California has also become a highlight of the season for everyone in the industry.

“I love that weekend,” he said. “It’s a vacation for everybody involved. It’s a challenging racetrack. I’m good at it. You always look forward to going to tracks you’re good at. We’ve gotten this wave of confidence going at the moment. Hopefully, we can ride off to Sonoma and enjoy some success there, as well.”

Bowyer will drive the Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang in Sunday’s race. Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner with the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived in 2017 and has been with the SHR organization since 2010. The San Antonio-based company, with more than 120 locations and 7,000 employees, has used Bowyer and the team to appeal to NASCAR fans as one way to recruit the technicians it needs to operate the largest network of commercial truck and bus dealerships in the country, with locations in 22 states.

According to Rush Truck Centers, the trucking industry is expected to need 200,000 diesel technicians over the next 10 years to keep up with maintenance demands.

Bowyer arrives in Sonoma after a 35th-place finish June 10 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where a lap-130 accident in the 200-lap race ruined what was shaping up to be a top-five or top-10 finish. Bowyer has tallied five-top-fives and eight top-10s in 2019. He’s 12th in points with 11 races remaining before the start of the 2019 NASCAR playoffs Sept. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“It’s that time of year when you start looking at the standings and seeing where you need to be to make the playoffs,” Bowyer said. “Plus, you really want to be on a roll when the playoffs start in September. It all begins Sunday in Sonoma.”

Clint Bowyer, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

How do you think race strategy will change with the addition of The Carousel?

“I honestly don’t know. I think everybody has been working hard on it and I have been trying to figure out The Carousel. It is going to be a game changer, no question. I don’t know what to think about it. For the last several years, I have looked at that track to be the go-to track. Since the Car of Tomorrow, it really woke up certain tracks, and Sonoma and these road courses have been some of our best products of racing. I think that is a fact. It is an opinion but it is pretty damn close to factual.”

What is Sonoma race weekend like?

“It’s a fun weekend for everyone in the garage area. It’s almost like vacation, it really is for everybody — the wives, the girlfriends – they all go on wine tours, we get done with practice and have our hands full with a complete mess. Nonetheless, everybody is having a lot of fun.”

How important is this summer stretch to success in 2019?

“The summer stretch is everything and, looking back at our season last year, we’ve got to get better at it. Everybody asks, ‘How are you going to improve from last year?’ And I say it’s that late-summer stretch. We started off great last year and then tapered off in the summer. We have to avoid that this year. You have to get on a roll, especially leading off into the playoffs.”


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Odds to win 2019 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

Is this week Kevin Harvick finally gets his first win of 2019
SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2019 - 3:20 PM ET

Kevin HARVICK 7/2
Martin TRUEX JR 9/2
Clint BOWYER 6/1
Kyle BUSCH 6/1
Chase ELLIOTT 6/1
Kurt BUSCH 10/1
Joey LOGANO 10/1
Denny HAMLIN 14/1
Jimmie JOHNSON 25/1
Ryan BLANEY 25/1
Daniel SUAREZ 25/1
Erik JONES 40/1
Kyle LARSON 40/1
Aric ALMIROLA 60/1
Daniel HEMRIC 60/1
Chris BUESCHER 100/1
Alex BOWMAN 100/1
Michael McDOWELL 100/1
Ryan NEWMAN 100/1
Paul MENARD 100/1
William BYRON 100/1
Matt TIFFT 300/1
Austin DILLON 300/1
Ricky STENHOUSE JR 500/1
Ryan PREECE 1000/1
David RAGAN 2000/1
Ty DILLON 2000/1
FIELD (all others) 300/1

Formula One: Odds to win 2019 French Grand Prix

Circuit Paul Ricard
Le Castellet, France
Sunday, June 23rd, 2019 - 9:10 AM ET

Valtteri BOTTAS 5/2
Sebastian VETTEL 4/1
Charles LECLERC 6/1
Pierre GASLY 200/1
Daniel RICCIARDO 1000/1
Nico HULKENBERG 1000/1
Kevin MAGNUSSEN 2000/1
Carlos SAINZ JR 2000/1
Romain GROSJEAN 2000/1
Kimi RAIKKONEN 2000/1
Daniil KVYAT 2000/1
Lando NORRIS 2000/1
Sergio PEREZ 2000/1
Alexander ALBON 2000/1
Lance STROLL 3000/1
Antonio GIOVINAZZI 3000/1
George RUSSELL 5000/1
Robert KUBICA 5000/1

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Odds to win 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series CircuitsCity.com 250 at Iowa

Chase Briscoe is 12/1 to win this week at Iowa.
SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 2019 - 2:10 PM ET

Christopher BELL 2/1
Cole CUSTER 9/2
Justin ALLGAIER 5/1
Tyler REDDICK 7/1
Ryan PREECE 7/1
Noah GRAGSON 12/1
Chase BRISCOE 12/1
Austin CINDRIC 12/1
Brandon JONES 18/1
Jeffrey EARNHARDT 20/1
Justin HALEY 60/1
Michael ANNETT 80/1
Field ( all others ) 25/1

Joey Logano wins 2019 FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan

Joey Logano was 10/1 to win at Michigan.

Michigan Results

Kevin Harvick finishes seventh at Michigan

Busch Light Driver Now Fourth in NASCAR Cup Points

Date: June 10, 2019
Event: FireKeepers Casino 400 (Round 15 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (2-mile oval)
Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)
Note: Race extended three laps past its scheduled 200-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Start/Finish:        3rd/7th (Running, completed 203 of 203 laps)
Point standing:    4th (539 points, 75 out of first)

Race Winner:      Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:  Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:  Austin Dillion of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Kevin Harvick started third, finished 33rd.
● The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang fell to seventh at the start of the race but was up to second by lap seven.
● On lap 15, Harvick said he was a bit loose. He was running second.
● Harvick pitted on lap 22 for right-side tires and fuel. He came in second and went out in 10th.
● On lap 53, Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel after complaining of possibly having a loose wheel.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Harvick started 36th, finished second and earned nine bonus points.
● The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang pitted on lap 65 for four tires and fuel.
● On lap 66 Harvick pitted again to tighten the lug nuts. He pitted again on lap 73 to tighten the rear lug nuts and for fuel only. The No. 4 team could not figure out the cause of the vibration.
● By lap 87, Harvick was up to 12th and said the vibration was gone.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-203):
● Harvick started fourth, finished seventh.
● The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang pitted on lap 124 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
● Harvick started fourth and was in the lead by turn three.
● Joey Logano and Harvick traded the lead past the 130-lap mark.
● On lap 175, Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel. He was running second.
● Several cars took only two tires, and even with a green-white-checkered restart, Harvick finished seventh.

● Harvick earned his 10th top-10 of the season and his 18th top-10 in 37 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Michigan.
● Harvick’s 18 top-10s at Michigan are the most among active drivers. Next best is Jimmie Johnson with 13 top-10s.
● This is Harvick’s third straight top-10 at Michigan.
● Harvick has finished outside the top-10 at Michigan just three times since joining SHR in 2014.
● This is Harvick’s fifth straight finish of 11th or better, a streak that began with a sixth-place drive in May at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
● Harvick finished second in Stage 2 to earn nine bonus points.
● He led three times for 15 laps to increase his laps-led total at Michigan to 495.
● Joey Logano won the FireKeepers Casino 400 to score his 23rd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his third at Michigan. His margin of victory over second-place Kurt Busch was .147 of a second.
● There were seven caution periods for a total of 35 laps.
● Twenty-five of the 36 drivers in the FireKeepers Casino 400 finished on the lead lap.
● Logano leaves Michigan as the new championship leader with a nine-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.

Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang:
“We had a really fast Busch Light Ford and just made a lot of mistakes today.”

Next Up:
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Save Mart 350 on Sunday, June 23 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Michigan Betting Preview: 2019 FireKeepers Casino 400

Kyle Busch won last week at Pocono as the 3/1 favorite.
Kyle Busch won three of the first eight races on the NASCAR Cup season and then he went winless for five races until taking the checkers last week at Pocono Raceway last week for the third time in his last four starts there. Now in Week 15 the series heads to Michigan International Speedway where Busch has just one 2011 win, but he's rolling so good with the new race package featuring aero-ducts and engines with 550 horsepower that the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has posted him as an 11/4 favorite to win Sunday's FireKeepers Casino 400.

Last week he was 3/1 at a place he's recently dominated at, but now he's lower than 3/1 at his third worst statistical track (18th-place average) behind Talladega and Daytona.

“I’m not entirely sure," Busch said regarding what to expect at Michigan. "We’ll just go into the weekend like we always do – keep working on our car to be the best it can be in practice on Friday and hope we have a shot to get back to victory lane there. We had a lot of struggles on the repave but turned that around a bit last year. Our whole team has shown how well we’ve worked together and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) has been able to make the right calls, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he has in store for me at Michigan this weekend. I’m hoping Michigan will be at least a little bit more worn in than when we were there last August."

Michigan's wide 2-mile D-shaped oval was repaved before the 2012 season and Busch had only one top-five in his next 12 starts there. But then things got better last season with fourth place in this race and third in the August race.

So the question we have to ask ourselves this week is whether Busch driving this new race package coupled with breaking the funk on the new surface last year outweighs his overall poor performances since last winning there. Also, it's important to note that Busch won at Michigan's sister-track at Fontana in March that was using the same package they'll run this week. It's the same package he won with at Pocono last week.

With all the data we have on Busch, I just can't bet him this week. He'll probably finish top-five again like he's done eight times already in 2019, but I had to throw him out of my wagering portfolio for the week. It's not like he's Jeff Gordon at 5/2 odds in the late 90s to win on a road course. This is Kyle's worst track that's not at a traditional restrictor-plate track. No way I can take less than 5/1 on him here, but I can tell you he worries me and I definitely won't be taking big prices in match-ups betting against him. I'm going to pretend he's not even racing and leave him out of everything.

The good thing about the SuperBook's odds with a desired 26 percent theoretic hold percentage is that when they post an option at such low odds like Busch, all the other options are bumped up in price to keep it balanced at 26 percent. Believe it or not, not all Nevada books follow this practice and most offer a theo hold at 40 to 50 percent. But with the SuperBook, they give you something back with other drivers almost like a dare so I'm centering my attention on Chase Elliott at 10/1 odds.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Jimmie Johnson is 30/1 to win 2019 FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan

Jimmie Johnson has just one win at Michigan.
Jimmie Johnson on Michigan:
"I enjoy the racetrack. It's been one of my favorite tracks to run on since I've started racing. There's lots of lane options and high speeds. From inside the car, the experience on the track has always been pretty intense and cool."

Johnson on Michigan's speed:

"The highest speed I've ever had in a race car was at Michigan. The rules package this year will change that, the straightaway speeds won't be as high as we have had in the past. When they resurfaced it and with the higher horsepower rules package, I think I went 217 mph into Turn 1, and that's the fastest I've been in a race car."

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, June 7, at 3:30 p.m. local time in the media center at Michigan International Speedway.

HOME TURF: Michigan International Speedway is in close proximity to two key players on the No. 48 team. Sponsor Ally Financial is based in nearby Detroit, roughly 78 miles east of the track. Ally Detroit Center, formerly One Detroit Center, is a skyscraper located in the downtown area overlooking the Detroit Financial District. The 43-story tower is the tallest office building in Michigan and the second tallest building overall in the state. Michigan is also home to manufacturer Chevrolet, as General Motors Company is also based in Detroit’s Renaissance Center just around the corner from Ally.

MICHIGAN FINISHES: Jimmie Johnson has had some exciting finishes at Michigan. Over the years, Johnson has led 700 laps at the two-mile track. After a few close calls and near misses, Johnson scored his first and only win at Michigan on June 15, 2014, leading 39 laps en route to the checkered flag.

MICHIGANIANS: No. 48 team crew chief Kevin Meendering was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and lived there – gracing the pits of Berlin Raceway – until he was 8 years old, when he and his family moved to North Carolina. Meendering began working at Hendrick Motorsports as an intern and moved his way through the organization as he attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte part-time to earn a mechanical engineering degree. Also claiming Michigan as a “home” track is Brandon Harder, the fueler on the No. 48 pit crew. Harder is a native of Oak Harbor, Ohio, and attended Bowling Green State University, majoring in construction management before moving to North Carolina to pursue his NASCAR dreams.

JJ Q&A: Johnson will participate in a question-and-answer session Sunday, June 9, on the pre-race stage at Michigan International Speedway at 11 a.m. local time. One lucky child from the crowd will be picked at random to introduce the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.

ALLY SWAG(GER): Ally will help fans get their "Ally Swag(ger)" on once again this weekend. Fans will have the opportunity to update their Johnson gear with the Ally colors if they find an Ally brand ambassadors in the campgrounds at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time. Follow @AllyRacing on Twitter for exact locations and updates.

POCONO REWIND: Last weekend at Pocono Raceway, Johnson and the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team seemed on track for another solid top-10 run but slid backward in the closing laps to a 19th-place finish. After starting eighth and running in the top 10 for the majority of the race, Johnson later tweeted that while loading the car in the transporter, the team noticed the track bar was bottomed out on the right side of the car and that something happened during on-track contact, which allowed the car to drop multiple inches. The culprit was a mechanical failure.

2019 Season

  • 17th in standings
  • 14 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 68 laps led


  • 629 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 36 pole positions
  • 225 top-five finishes
  • 358 top-10 finishes
  • 18,771 laps led

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 13 top-10 finishes
  • 700 laps led

Chase Elliott is 10/1 to win 2019 FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway

Chase Elliott has best average finish (5.3) in Michigan history.
Chase Elliott on improving:
“We’ve had some good NAPA Chevrolets the last couple of weeks. We’ve been good, just not great and you have to be great to win these things. I’ll go to work and try to do a better job, and we’ll see what we can do (at Michigan)."

Elliott on Michigan strategy:
“I assume the outside lane will be really dominant on restarts. Getting up in that outside lane and getting in the draft will be big. I don’t know if the guy up front will ever be able to get away or not. The thing about Michigan is that it is still very one-lane. Unfortunately, that racetrack just hasn’t really widened out like we all hoped it would or like it used to be. Maybe it will and maybe the new package will make it widen out some. I think it will be similar to the Xfinity race last year unless we are able to move around more.”

RUNNER-UP FINISHES: Chase Elliott is in good company as one of four drivers with the most runner-up finishes at Michigan before their first win at the track. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon also earned three second-place results before capturing his first win at the two-mile oval (1998), and both Martin Truex Jr. and NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte have three runner-up results without a win at Michigan.

MICHIGAN STATS: The driver currently holds the best average finish (5.3) of all time at Michigan. He has finished inside the top 10 in all six career NASCAR Cup Series starts at the two-mile oval, which ties him for the series' longest streak of starts before a finish outside the top 10 at Michigan. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native has collected three top-five finishes – all of which were runner-up results – at the track. Elliott also averages a starting position of 10.7 at the venue.

GUSTAFSON STATS: In his 15th season as crew chief, Alan Gustafson is set to call his 29th race from atop the pit box this weekend at Michigan. In his previous 28 starts at the venue with five different drivers (Elliott, Gordon, Mark Martin, Casey Mears and Kyle Busch), Gustafson has collected two wins – with Martin in June 2009 and Gordon in August 2014, when he started from the pole position. The No. 9 team crew chief has garnered five top-five finishes,13 top-10s and 292 laps led at the Michigan track.

LAST FIVE: Last weekend’s fourth-place finish at Pocono Raceway kept a streak alive for Elliott. The driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has collected five straight top-five finishes (Talladega – first; Dover – fifth; Kansas – fourth; Charlotte – fourth; Pocono – fourth). It marks the longest top-five streak of Elliott’s Cup Series career. His previous longest streak was two races in August 2018 (Bristol and Darlington). Over the last five races, he has averaged a finishing position of 3.6 – the best average finish of all drivers – and has led 280 laps. Elliott has also collected more points (236) than any other driver over the previous five events.

SO FAR IN 2019: Through the first 14 races of the season, Elliott has led 402 laps – leading in eight of the last nine races after going the first five races of the season without leading a single lap. He currently owns the fourth-most laps led by a driver this season. He has taken the green flag from the front row in three races this season, starting from the pole position in two of the last seven races (Bristol and Dover). So far this season, Elliott averages a starting position of 12.4 and finishing position of 9.2.


2019 Season

  • 3rd in standings
  • 14 starts
  • 1 win
  • 2 pole positions
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 402 laps led


  • 127 starts
  • 4 wins
  • 6 pole positions
  • 39 top-five finishes
  • 66 top-10 finishes
  • 1,645 laps led

Track Career 

  • 6 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 66 laps led