Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Hendrick Motorsports Driver Quotes for Michigan




Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on his strategy for Michigan: “It’s a totally different package; areo, engine, all that compared to when I used to win there but Hendrick Motorsports has been strong there and we have been good on all the bigger ovals this year. The draft plays a big role there, so you have to be really patient when you are making moves. As long as we keep executing and being smart like we have been doing all year long, we should have ourselves in position to challenge for another win.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on challenges of Michigan being only race on 2-mile track this season: “Massive challenges. Michigan is a tough place to know where to set the trim of your car for drag and downforce. A lot of the mile-and-a-half’s are more similar in that regard. At Michigan, you really have to have speed in your car. Of course, you have to have the right amount of handling to get through the corners, but the straightaways are long and the track is smooth. If you have handling on your side – which hopefully we do – then you must be able to go fast in a straight line.”


Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on making a playoff run this season: “We just have to peak at the right time. That was really what we did best last year. We just really peaked at the right time and kind of got hot for a stretch of races. It was perfect timing. Unfortunately, you can’t always draw that up. That’s not just something you can snap your fingers and make happen. It’s a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of effort and it comes from everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, everyone on the road, myself, our off-track help. Everything has to really be clicking at the right time. Our playoffs are 10 weeks, which is a long time. Just that stretch of races, it’s tough to be at your peak for 10 weeks. We just hope we can peak at the right time again, that’s key. We want to perform when it matters most.”

Elliott on this year's ‘DESI9N TO DRIVE’ program: “With September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the Chase Elliott Foundation, NAPA AUTO PARTS and Hendrick Motorsports have decided to give the No. 9 Chevrolet an entirely new look for the Darlington race. To me, the main player is obviously NAPA and how they are allowing Children’s to be a part of it. To take ‘DESI9N TO DRIVE’, an event that was just shoe designs, and turn it into being on the car, on the suit, on the helmet. I think all of that is extremely special, so I am grateful for NAPA being open, willing and excited about it enough to partner up and make it happen.”


William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the high speeds at Michigan: “I think with the 550 horsepower package we run, the mid-corner section of the track feels more high speed than anything. Even though we’re going slower down the straightaways than we were a couple years ago, I feel like the mid-corner now feels almost sketchy. It’s fully on edge and you’re close to always chattering the tires. It’s a fast track that makes you feel like you’re always running on a fine line. It’s just a different sensation of speed with this package.”

Byron on the importance of winning in Michigan: “Michigan is such an important racetrack, not only for teams but for manufacturers – Chevrolet, most importantly. It’s a fun race that’s all about bragging rights for them on who had the most power, the most downforce, and things like that. I feel like we are heading into this race with a really good shot to get it done for Chevy. We have really fast cars on the 1.5-mile and 2-mile tracks. So, I’m excited to see how things play out for us and hopefully we can be the ones to give the bragging rights to Chevy at the end of the day.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the final races before the playoffs: “Since the two-week break, we wanted to make sure we came back with high intensity. We obviously bring it every week, but we wanted to ensure that everyone understands that we want to treat this like a 14-week playoff. With the last two races we ran and the next two coming up, we want to make sure that we are executing at the highest level possible. It’s about the cars you bring to the track, the execution level and going through every detail. That is what we’re trying to hit on to make sure we are ready to go for the playoffs. We don’t want to wait until the playoffs start to be like, ‘Okay, it’s time to step it up.’ It’s a fight every week, so we’re trying to make sure that we’re bringing it at all times.”


Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on racing at Michigan: “I’m definitely excited to go to Michigan. Last year we were fast, so this year I think we know our program for that style racetrack is really strong and I think we could be really good. Excited to go there and hopefully contend for a win. It’s really cool to go to Ally’s backyard, Chevrolet’s backyard and really everyone’s backyards. Everyone has a little bit of added pressure to try to win there, and hopefully we can get it done.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on returning to his home track: “I am really looking forward to getting to Michigan. Obviously, it’s my home state and one of the first tracks that I went to as a fan in the stands. That gave me the passion for wanting to do this every day. We are looking to continue our great runs on 550 tracks this weekend. With Ally’s presence there and Chevrolet’s, having success at Michigan is super important for us on Sunday.”

Ives on finishing the regular season with strong results: “There is never a bad time to have three wins in the hopper. The big thing is that you want to cap off these races at Michigan and Daytona with momentum. After Watkins Glen we were down a little bit, but I think we are getting back to where we need to be. We need that momentum to go into the start of the playoffs. That is our focus right now. We don’t want to plan too far ahead of us because you have to take each race and keep building on it.”


Kevin Harvick is 8/1 to win fourth straight Michigan race



Michigan Advance

No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing



Event Overview


●  Event:  FireKeepers Casino 400 (Round 25 of 36)

●  Time/Date:  3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Aug. 22

●  Location:  Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn

●  Layout:  2-mile oval

●  Laps/Miles:  200 laps / 400 miles

●  Stage Lengths:  Stage 1: 60 laps / Stage 2: 60 laps / Final Stage: 80 laps

●  TV/Radio:  NBCSN / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio


Notes of Interest


●  Kevin Harvick is the apple of one’s eye at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, which is fitting since the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion will race the No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang in the FireKeepers Casino 400. In his last six races at the 2-mile oval, Harvick has won four times and finished second once. His worst finish is a mere seventh.


●  Who was the last driver not named Harvick to win at Michigan? That would be Joey Logano on June 10, 2019 when Harvick finished seventh. What else was No. 1 on that date? Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road was the No. 1 song and The Secret Life of Pets 2 was the No. 1 movie until being usurped by Toy Story 4.


●  Harvick has won the past three races at Michigan, including a sweep of the doubleheader last year. In taking back-to-back checkered flags on Aug. 8-9 at Michigan, Harvick became the first driver to win two NASCAR Cup Series races on consecutive days since Richard Petty in 1971 when Petty won July 14 at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, New York, and July 15 at Islip (N.Y.) Speedway.


●  Harvick’s sweep of last year’s Michigan doubleheader earned him an accolade no other driver had ever achieved. He was the first NASCAR Cup Series driver in series history to win on back-to-back days at the same track.


●  Harvick can tie another record with a win Sunday at Michigan. Bill Elliott holds the series record for most consecutive wins at Michigan with four, as the NASCAR Hall of Famer swept the track’s slate of NASCAR Cup Series races in 1985 and 1986. Harvick has won four of the last five races at Michigan, including the last three. He is one of just 10 drivers who have earned consecutive wins at Michigan, joining Bobby Allison (1971 sweep), David Pearson (1972 sweep-1973 and 1974-1975), Cale Yarborough (1983 sweep), Elliott (1985 sweep-1986 sweep), Bobby Labonte (1995 sweep), Mark Martin (1997-1998), Ryan Newman (2003-2004), Greg Biffle (2004-2005 and 2012-2013) and Kyle Larson (2016-2017 sweep).


●  The FireKeepers Casino 400 will mark Harvick’s 41st career NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan, tying him with Kurt Busch for the most among active drivers. Since making his first start at the track on June 10, 2001, Harvick has scored five wins, 15 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes while leading 699 laps, all of which are series bests. Harvick’s five wins are two more than Busch, Larson and Logano, all of whom are tied with three wins apiece. Harvick’s 15 top-fives are five more than next best Martin Truex Jr. (10 top-fives). Harvick’s 21 top-10s are four more than next best Logano (17 top-10s), as are his 699 laps led, which is 109 more laps than Logano (590 laps led).


●  Harvick’s first NASCAR Cup Series win at Michigan came on Aug. 15, 2010. Fifteen races passed before Harvick’s second win on Aug. 12, 2018, but in that span he finished second six times, including a run of four straight runner-up finishes (2013-2014).


●  Harvick has flexed his muscles outside of the NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan. In 11 career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, Harvick has a win (August 2003), four top-fives and nine top-10s. And in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Harvick has a win (August 2011) and two top-fives and four top-11s.


●  If Michigan were a bingo card, Harvick would’ve yelled “Bingo” more than anyone… until Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400. Busch Light Apple is integrating Bingo into the 200-lap race where fans will have the chance to win $1,000 per stage and other Busch Light Apple prizes by playing its version of Bingo on Twitter. All fans have to do is follow @BuschBeer, turn on their notifications, and play along. Whenever anything listed on the Busch Light Apple Bingo board happens, fans have the opportunity to win Busch Light Apple swag. If three spaces connect, they have a chance to win $1,000. Just tweet #BuschLightApple #Sweepstakes when anything on the board happens, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. Bingo blocks include “Start of Stage”, “Caution Flag”, “Harvick in First”, “Harvick Pit Stop”, “End of Stage”, “20th Lap of Stage”, “Busch Light Apple Commercial” and “40th Lap of Stage”. FYI: The first two stages are 60 laps apiece and the final stage is 80 laps. The FireKeepers Casino 400 starts at 3 p.m. EDT and can be seen live on NBCSN and, of course, those 21 and older can best enjoy it with a Busch Light Apple, a crisp, refreshing, apple-flavored lager with a touch of sweet on the front end and a clear, beer finish on the back end. It is available for a limited time only in 12-, 24- and 30-packs at a store near you.



Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang 


What was it like to sweep both Michigan races last year, and on back-to-back days no less?

“The doubleheader at Michigan was a unique situation because we had to run back-to-back races due to COVID and how it affected our schedule. Michigan has always been a great racetrack for us. We’ve been strong every time we’ve been there. Being able to win both of those races was pretty awesome just because of the fact that it’s probably something we might not have the opportunity to do again, especially now since we’re only racing at Michigan once a year. It was a great moment for our team.”


When you swept last year’s races at Michigan on consecutive days, you did something that hadn’t been done since Richard Petty in 1971. Does a milestone like that resonate with you, especially when you’re doing something only achieved by someone best known as “The King”?

“Absolutely. When you start hearing things that are being compared to The King, you have to kind of step back and look and say, ‘Alright, that was pretty cool,’ because if The King’s the only other one who’s done it, that’s a pretty cool stat. And it’s a huge accomplishment for the team and their preparation and the effort that they put into the weekend. It’s something you can always say you did that The King did.”


How satisfying were your back-to-back wins last year at Michigan?

“When you look at being able to do that two days in a row, it says a lot about the guys working on the cars and being able to turn that around. Being able to say, ‘Hey, we need to do this better or that better.’ After you just won the race literally less than 24 hours later, you go back out on the racetrack and be good with those changes to be confident enough to say the track is going to change, we need to make these changes and do that again. There’s an evolution that needs to take place, and the evolution that took place over the course of two days was definitely challenging – to be able to convince yourself that you needed to do better than you did the first day. But you had to know that everybody was going to get better the second day and the racetrack was going to be different. Those guys do a great job prepping the Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang and it makes my job easy.”


What can you take from last year’s success at Michigan and apply to this year’s race?

“With so many stipulations put on the rules this year about what you can and can’t race, you would hope that we go back up there and be decent, as far as the things we did over the offseason and the small rule changes here and there. So much is going to be very similar to what we did in 2020. You want to hope that the results can be as rewarding.”


Considering your history at Michigan, you’re probably the best person to ask this question – what does it take to be successful at Michigan?

“A fast car is the biggest key. Our organization has run really well at Michigan. The Roush Yates folks from the engine side and Doug Yates, in particular, love going to Michigan. Ford, from a manufacturer’s side, loves having the manufacturers’ trophy sitting in its facility. So there is a lot of motivation going into Michigan. For us, being at a racetrack we have run well at and won at, the expectations are in the same category. We want to get to victory lane.”

Two To Go: NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Irish Hills of Michigan

The penultimate NASCAR Cup Series regular season race has arrived, and Michigan International Speedway has set the stage for the FireKeepers Casino 400, this Sunday, August 22 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). With just two races remaining in the regular season, the Playoffs loom and the competitors know time is running out to secure their spot in the postseason, making these 400 miles at Michigan that much more pivotal.

Michigan International Speedway sits on more than 1,400 acres in the “Irish Hills” of Southeastern Michigan. Ground-breaking for the facility took place on September 28, 1967 and the 2-mile asphalt paved track with 18 degrees of banking in the turns was created – the only track with those dimensions on the schedule. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan was held on June 15, 1969 and the event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough in the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Mercury at a speed of 139.254 mph. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan was 500 miles in length; the second was scheduled for 600. The track was re-measured to 2.04 miles for the last race in 1970 and both races in 1971 – with the race distance being 402 miles. All other races have been scheduled for 400 miles, except for last season’s races that were 312 miles each and run on consecutive days.

Michigan International Speedway has hosted a total of 103 NASCAR Cup Series races. Other than 1973, which had just one race, there have been two races each season since 1969. The 2021 season is just the second season (1973) to host just one NASCAR Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway since the track joined the schedule in 1969.

A total of 38 different drivers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway. NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the series in wins at Michigan with nine victories (1969, 1972 sweep, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 sweep, 1978). Kevin Harvick (2010, 2018, 2019, 2020-1, 2020-2) leads all active series drivers in wins at Michigan with five victories. Seven of the 38 NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Michigan are active this weekend.


Active Race Winners



Kevin Harvick



Joey Logano



Kurt Busch



Kyle Larson



Denny Hamlin



Ryan Newman



Kyle Busch


A total of 50 different drivers have qualified on the pole at Michigan International Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series. NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Michigan International Speedway with 10 poles (1969, 1974 sweep, 1975, 1976, 1977 sweep, 1978 sweep and 1979).

Joey Logano (2013, 2016 sweep, 2019) leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in poles at Michigan with four. Due to COVID-19 restrictions this season’s starting lineups for the Firekeepers Casino 400 will be decided by Metric Qualifying and as a result Kyle Larson will start on the pole and will be joined by his Hendrick Motorsports’ teammate Chase Elliott on the front row.

The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (22) than any other starting position at Michigan International Speedway: 21 from the pole and one from the first starting position due to qualifying being cancelled – 1985 (Bill Elliott). The most recent driver to win from the pole at Michigan was Joey Logano in 2019. The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Michigan is 32nd, by NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin in the spring of 2009.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Kyle Busch a great bet at +650 to win at Michigan



Final Stop of the Midwest Road Trip


HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Aug. 17, 2021) – Many families across the United States use the summer months to take a road trip and make memories along the way.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), his wife Samantha and 6-year-old son Brexton decided they were going to take a summer road trip of their own as they toured the Midwest so Brexton could try out multiple tracks during his budding racing career.


The “Midwest Road Trip,” as the Busch family called it, has included stops in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, with stopovers in New York for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Indianapolis for the inaugural Cup Series road-course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Their voyage has included a few trips in the family moterhome, as well as a few airplane rides. While the Busch family returned home this week to the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, they have one more Midwest stop on the docket as NASCAR’s top series makes its way to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 for the annual late-summer visit to the Irish Hills that means fall is on the horizon.


With Interstate Batteries returning to the No. 18 car this weekend while continuing to celebrate their 30th anniversary together in 2021, Busch is encouraging fans to stop by a local Interstate dealer to get their vehicle batteries checked before taking off on their late-summer vacation, much like they did before their own Midwest racing tour. Hot weather has a far greater effect on batteries than the cold, so this weekend’s race at a popular summer tourist destination like the Great Lakes State is the perfect setting to remind fans to have their batteries checked.


The Michigan race signifies not only the end of summer, but the winding down of the Cup Series regular season. Busch has been consistent during this year’s summer stretch. In the last nine races on the schedule, starting with the June event at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway through last weekend’s race on the Indianapolis road course, Busch has a win at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway highlighting an impressive six top-five finishes.


In the Irish Hills of Michigan this weekend, Busch will look to keep running up front at a place where he initially struggled following the 2012 repave of the 2-mile oval. The Las Vegas native has scored eight consecutive top-10s and no finish worse than sixth in his last six starts there.

Busch’s lone career Cup Series win at Michigan came on Aug. 21, 2011, when he found himself outdueling seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson in a late-race shootout.


So, as Busch and the Interstate Batteries team head back to the Midwest this weekend with an “Outrageously Dependable” Interstate Battery under the hood, the confidence built from a summer spent running up front will do them well this weekend. But Busch also knows chances are he’ll need to outduel several others in order to capture his second career Cup Series victory in the Irish Hills, which would be a perfect way to cap off an enjoyable family road trip around the Midwest.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 


What are you expecting at Michigan this weekend?


“Michigan has been a hit-or-miss place for us. I remember winning there on the final race of the old pavement and that was super cool. Ever since the repave, it’s been stuck up there in lane number two and where everyone wants to run. Last year, we got to put on more side-by-side racing and I ended up third. Looking forward to coming back there with a fast Interstate Batteries Camry. Our 550-horsepower race package has been pretty good for us this year, so hope it bodes well for us there this weekend. (Kevin) Harvick and (Joey) Logano and, really, the Ford’s in general have been really quick over the last few years there. It seems like they either have their engine or aero packages squared away there a little bit more than us. This year, it’s been more about the Hendrick guys, so they are probably the group you have to race to win there, as opposed to what it’s been at Michigan the last few years.”


What is it about Michigan that separates it from other tracks?


“Michigan just being a 2-mile speedway, it’s not like a Daytona and Talladega, where it has the banking like those tracks do, but it is medium banking, so it’s all about speed. You just have to be fast and willing to go through the corner fast. The faster you can get through the corner, the better you are going to be down the straightaways. That’s just a product that we all understand. A couple of years ago, we tried to get better straightaway speed and it made us not as good in the corners, so we re-did our philosophy a bit for both getting off the corner and down the straightaway.”


What is the atmosphere like at Michigan as opposed to other tracks?


“The camping and the infield there always seems really full. They put on a good event weekend. They have concerts and they have some late-night fireworks, and hopefully they will be doing stuff for all the campers who will be there all weekend. We just come there on Sunday this year, and we run our race and we go back out. We just want to put on a good show for the fans and hopefully get our Interstate Batteries Camry up front during our 30th year with JGR and Interstate as great partners.”


As you close in on the playoffs, what is the most important goal in your mind?


“Winning – no different than any other part of the year. You want to win. You want to pick up those bonus points and get yourself a little bit better situated for the playoff run. I feel like we are a little bit behind on that. We are not terrible. We are way ahead of where we were last year, but it would certainly be nice to have one or two more wins and collect more stage points. I think we would be good with that.”


How do you feel going into Michigan and what does that track mean for you on the schedule?


“We just try to figure out what we can continue to do to evolve and get better there. The setup there equates nothing to anything that we race throughout the playoffs, so really it’s just a track that we have to go to and do the best we can. But, beyond that, you never want to give away any opportunities to go out there and win a race, or to excel, or to take momentum away from what you’re doing with our Interstate Batteries Camry. We’ve put a focus on that track for the last three, four years and we’ve gained. We’ve certainly made improvements. I think we’ve run well there but our finishes may not have shown it, as far as the win column goes. We just need to be able to not have to race at 100 percent at Michigan all the time to finish third. We need to be able to run 90 percent to win, and that would allow us to then make up time if certain situations happen to us if we have a loose wheel, a bad pit stop, whatever. You can make time and pass people, things like that.”



Event Overview:


● Event: FireKeepers Casino 400 (Round 25 of 36)

● Time/Date: 3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Aug. 22

● Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn

● Layout: 2-mile oval

● Laps/Miles: 200 laps/400 miles

● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 60 laps / Stage 2: 60 laps / Final Stage: 80 laps

● TV/Radio: NBCSN / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Denny Hamlin is 15/1 to win on Indy road course

FedEx Racing Express Facts – Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course)

Denny Hamlin
11 FedEx Ground Toyota
Joe Gibbs Racing

Sunday Race Info:
Race: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard
Date/Time: Sunday, August 15/1:00 p.m. ET
Distance: 82 laps/200 miles
Track Length: 2.439 miles
Track Shape: 14-Turn Road Course

Express Notes:

Watkins Glen Recap: Denny Hamlin scored his 12th top-five finish of the season with a last-lap pass on the road course of Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on Sunday. The FedEx Express Toyota was fast all day, leading six laps and passing cars during all three stages, including the final pass around William Byron as the cars approached the white flag. The #11 team might have competed for a top-three finish – or even battled for the win – but Hamlin had to give up the lead to head to pit road for fuel with 28 laps to go. Kyle Larson won the 90-lap, 220-mile event, climbing into a tie with Hamlin for the regular-season points lead. The two will battle it out for the remaining three races before the playoff cut-off, each vying for the 15 bonus points to carry into the post-season.

Indianapolis Preview: The NASCAR Cup Series heads next to “The Brickyard” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday – but this time for some road course racing inside the oval track. Hamlin and team will look to use their momentum after a top-5 finish at Watkins Glen. With only three races left in the regular season, the #FedEx11 team is gearing up for a strong playoff push and to put themselves in the position to win the regular-season championship.

Hamlin Statistics:

Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course)

Races: 0

Hamlin Conversation – Indianapolis:

What are your thoughts on switching to the road course instead of racing the big oval?

“We lost a ‘major.’ That part of it stinks. I think as a driver, you would not regard the road course win the same as the Brickyard win. But I’m for whatever they want to change to get enthusiasm in that area. Indianapolis has always been one of the highest tune-in markets every week, but we need to get them to the race track. If they mix it up and more people come and see us race the road course, then that’s OK. I’m good with that.”

With only three races left in the regular season, and you’re tied with Kyle Larson atop the point standings, what’s your approach?

“I think it’s going to be a battle all the way to Daytona. It might even come down to the last lap. It’s exciting. I’ve been racing him hard every race and will continue to do so.”

FedEx Office – Closest to Indianapolis Motor Speedway: 5030 W Pike Plaza Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46254 (317) 297-2679

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Kevin Harvick is 35/1 to win at Indy road course



Indianapolis Road Course Advance

No. 4 Unibet Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing



Event Overview


●  Event:  Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (Round 24 of 36)

●  Time/Date:  1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 15

●  Location:  Indianapolis Motor Speedway

●  Layout:  2.439-mile, 14-turn road course

●  Laps/Miles:  82 laps / 200 miles

●  Stage Lengths:  Stage 1: 15 laps / Stage 2: 20 laps / Final Stage: 47 laps

●  TV/Radio:  NBC / IMS Radio Network / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio


Notes of Interest


●  The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard marks the debut of Unibet as a primary sponsor of driver Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 team of Stewart-Haas Racing. Unibet is a part of the Kindred Group, one of the top online gambling operators with business across Europe, the U.S. and Australia. The Unibet brand is building on its years of European experience in the responsible gambling and player sustainability field and extending that mindset to its U.S. operations, with motorsports being a key platform. Unibet will return to the No. 4 car as a primary partner Oct. 31 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.


●  Unibet is doubling down on Harvick at Indianapolis by also sponsoring him in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course. Harvick is making his third and final Xfinity Series start of 2021 and he will again drive for B.J. McLeod Motorsports in the No. 99 Unibet Ford Mustang. Of Harvick’s 348 career Xfinity Series starts, 13 have come on road courses. He has finished in the top-10 every time. In fact, his worst finish is merely a seventh-place drive at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on Aug. 12, 2006, and in that race, Harvick still managed to lead 19 laps. He has 10 top-five finishes highlighted by two wins – Aug. 4, 2007 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal and Aug. 11, 2007 at Watkins Glen.


●  The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard is the sixth of a ground-breaking seven Cup Series races to be held on road courses in 2021. From 1988 to 2017, there were only two road courses on the schedule – Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Watkins Glen. The Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval was added in 2018, giving the series just three road-course venues. The initial 2021 schedule doubled that tally with Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course all being added. And when COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of the series’ planned stop earlier this year at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, the road course at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway was put in its place, serving as the series’ second race of 2021.


●  Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Unibet Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, has made a total of 47 NASCAR Cup Series starts on road courses. He has 20 starts at Sonoma, 20 at Watkins Glen, three at the Charlotte Roval, two on the Daytona road course, one at COTA and one at Road America. He has scored two wins – Watkins Glen in 2006 and Sonoma in 2017 – along with 10 top-fives and 24 top-10s with 195 laps led.


●  When Harvick scored his first road-course victory at Watkins Glen in 2006, he had to beat his current team owner to do it. Tony Stewart – the “Stewart” in Stewart-Haas Racing – had won the past two NASCAR Cup Series races at the seven-turn, 2.45-mile road course and was poised to capture a third straight win as he was leading Harvick with four laps to go in the 90-lap race. But Harvick, who had already led once for 24 laps, passed Stewart on lap 87 as the two drag-raced down the frontstretch and into turn one. Harvick held onto the lead despite Stewart in his rearview mirror, earning a margin of victory of .892 of a second.


●  Harvick’s second career road-course win also had a connection to Stewart. When Harvick won at Sonoma in 2017, he gave Stewart-Haas Racing its second straight victory at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course. The winner in 2016? None other than Stewart. It ended up being his 49th and final NASCAR Cup Series victory as Stewart retired from NASCAR racing at the conclusion of the season.


●  Harvick’s last road-course win was his first in a Ford. When Harvick won at Sonoma in 2017, he became the 83rd different driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race behind the wheel of a Ford. Harvick has now won 23 Cup Series races with Ford, which makes him one of only 13 drivers to win 20 or more races with the manufacturer. He is currently tied with Rusty Wallace and Carl Edwards for 11th on the all-time Ford win list.


●  Harvick has four road-course wins outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. Two came in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007 and Watkins Glen in 2007 – and two were in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – Sonoma in 1998 and Sonoma in 2017. Harvick’s K&N Series win at Sonoma in 1998 was three years before his Cup Series debut on Feb. 26, 2001 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.


Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Unibet Ford Mustang 


For 20 years you’ve driven through the tunnel and into Indianapolis Motor Speedway knowing that you would be racing on the oval. This year when you arrive at Indy, you’ll be racing on the road course. What will that be like?

“For me, driving through that tunnel and understanding the history and everything that comes with racing on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something that I always look forward to. I can’t imagine driving backward on the frontstretch and driving the road course in the infield. It’s an oval thing for me. When you look at the oval and you look at the history of the racetrack and everything that comes with that – some guys may not have grown up like that, so some people will have a much different opinion – but for me the oval just holds a huge place in racing and it holds a huge place in the things that I look forward to every year. I remember the first time I pulled in there for a test in 2001 and you roll into the racetrack and you think, ‘Man, I just accomplished everything in my childhood dreams, rolling into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.’ Getting to go out on that racetrack and hearing the echoes of the cars through the grandstand is something that I’ll never forget, standing there on the front straightaway. I’m sure I’ll get over it as we start to get into practice and realize it’s just another race but, for me, it’s going to be a difficult hurdle to overcome.”


You might prefer the oval over the road course, but at least this year’s race has fans back in the grandstands.

“Our sport has done a phenomenal job navigating the whole COVID situation. As we’ve gone through a better part of this year having fans back at the racetracks with some sense of normalcy – that’s been a lot of fun. To see the enthusiasm from the sponsors to the fans and everybody else being back at the racetracks – it’s fun to see people’s faces again, and you can see who they are, and to have a conversation and stand around and talk and not have to be in a designated area to do this or that has been a relief. We’ve had some great crowds and our sport’s done just a great job in navigating everything.”


The Indy road course is one of seven road-course races this year. What are your thoughts on having so many road courses on the schedule?

“I’m good with the road courses. I think when you look at Road America, it was a huge success. That’s a great facility with a permanent road course that’s been there a long time. I grew up a Rick Mears fan wanting to race in the Indy 500, so not racing on the oval for me is a gut check. As a kid, that’s where I wanted to race and that was my dream – to race on the oval. As you look at road-course racing in general, it has become a part of our sport, and a very good part of our sport because of the fact that it gives us other opportunities to go to other facilities. When you look at COTA and you look at Road America, I think those were great additions to the schedule. Road-course racing is going to be a part of the Cup Series for a long time.”


How do you prepare for the road course at Indy?

“For us and our Unibet Ford Mustang, it’s drastically different preparation and, for me, it’s learning a new track, trying to make sure that before you go there you have everything memorized and doing the things it takes to be able to know where you’re going when you get on the racetrack. You just don’t have much practice in order to get everything figured out. All the transmission ratios and stuff are all locked in before you get there. So, hopefully, our simulator is working well and we get the lap times close and can get all the gear ratios and things like that figured out before we get there. But it’s a fair amount of preparation just because of the fact that you have to memorize the facility and you’re having to lock some stuff in before you even get to make a lap of practice on the racetrack. So, it’ll be interesting.”


One of the things that we used to see a lot of when NASCAR raced at road courses were ringers – road-course specialists brought in specifically for that race – but that’s really gone away in the last 10 years. Why?

“When I first came into this series, nobody wanted to go to Watkins Glen and nobody wanted to go to Sonoma, and then road-course racing became cool somewhere along the line. And I think as drivers – I know for me in 2003 – we really decided to put a lot of effort into our road-racing program and we were able to get much better at it than what we had been the previous two years. And as that progression happened, everybody started to get better at it, and the benefit of the road-race ringer kind of went away. It was more equal, and that little bit that the road-race guys had in road-race knowledge, they lost in car knowledge – not having the familiarity with the Cup car and how unique they are to drive.”

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Watkins Glen NASCAR Betting Preview: 2021 Go Bowling 235




Aug. 4, 2021


The NASCAR Cup Series took the last two weeks off and I must admit that I was wandering aimlessly the last two Sundays bored out of my skull. But the drivers are back this Sunday with the Go Bowling 235 at the 2.45-mile seven-turn Watkins Glen International road course, the fifth of seven road course races in 2021. The two weeks off were a welcome sight for Denny Hamlin’s team.

“It’s definitely different to get a break like this, but I think it was good for everybody, especially the team guys, to get that break,” Hamlin said. ”But now it’s time to get back to business. I’m confident we’ll bring a fast car to The Glen, so we just have to go out there and execute.”

I think the break may have let Hamlin get a much-needed reset himself. He leads the Cup Series in points (874) and is tied for the lead in top-fives (11) and top-10s (15), but doesn’t have a win after 22 races. He had seven wins last season. I think what stands out most for me during Hamlin’s drought is that 13 different drivers have won a race this season.


Kevin Harvick won a series-leading nine races last season and hasn’t won this season in a bizarre fall. He’s only had six top-fives and I can’t remember him being an actual contender to win in any race this season. I’ve seen blips of speed at stages in races, but his car always goes away from him.

Harvick and Hamlin combined for 16 wins last season and have none so far. Nothing changed with the cars and rules package. They’re the same as last season. Did everyone else just get better and catch up, or did someone lose some 2020 set-up notes?

Harvick hasn’t been very good on the road courses lately so I’d have to be baited by a better price than the 20-to-1 odds to win that William Hill is offering, but I’m listening and flirting with the SuperBook bait at 40-to-1 odds. I’m attracted and now making up reasons why it’s not a horrible bet, such as he led the most laps at New Hampshire finishing sixth the last time the 750 horsepower low downforce race package was used. His teammate Aric Almirola won the race, the first win for Stewart-Haas Racing this season.

Harvick has a 2006 win at Watkins Glen in his 19 starts averaging a 12th-place finish. He was seventh in his last race there in 2019. Remember, New York shut down the state during the pandemic so no race at the Glen. The same goes for the 2020 Sonoma race because of California’s rules.


  • Date: Sunday, August 8, 2021
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 3:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Watkins Glen International
  • Location: Watkins Glen, New York
  • Distance: 220.86 miles, 90 laps
  • Defending Champion: Chase Elliott (2019)

As you may have noticed over the course of this season, I’m not a big fan of all the road races or throwing dirt on the Bristol bullring, but I like Watkins Glen because it has some tradition and it’s a fast track. I can’t remember who said it this week, but one of the drivers said Sonoma was Martinsville while Watkins Glen was California Speedway to explain how different the two road courses were. Chase Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson also had a good breakdown on why Watkins Glen is unique.

“Watkins Glen is different from other road courses,“ said Gustafson, who turned 46 on Thursday. “The really high speeds are one reason – the average speed is high, probably in the 140-150 mph range. Aerodynamics is also a huge part, and the braking zones are really important. I think those are the biggest things that stand out. The other thing that is really important is that there are a couple key places in the track, up to the esses and in through the inner loop where you have to change directions really, really fast. The car having stability to change directions really fast is super important to be successful there. I think that’s what makes Watkins Glen so different from the other road courses.”

I like Watkins Glen and Sonoma, and that’s it. Who came up with the idea that NASCAR fans love road courses? Is this their marketing plan to attract new audiences?

“When I first came into this series, nobody wanted to go to Watkins Glen and nobody wanted to go to Sonoma, and then road-course racing became cool somewhere along the line,” Harvick said. “And I think as drivers – I know for me in 2003 – we really decided to put a lot of effort into our road-racing program and we were able to get much better at it than what we had been the previous two years. And as that progression happened, everybody started to get better at it, and the benefit of the road-race ringer kind of went away. It was more equal, and that little bit that the road-race guys had in road-race knowledge,they lost in car knowledge – not having the familiarity with the Cup car and how unique they are to drive.”

Ah yes, the road course ringer. Ron Fellows stepped in to win three Xfinity and two Truck Series races at the Glen. Boris Said was another. Marcos Ambrose is in Australia now but dominated in two Cup wins (2011, 2012) and four Xfinity Series wins at Watkins Glen. Let’s not forget road aces Robby Gordon (2003) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2010).


  • Chase Elliott +200
  • Kyle Larson +450
  • Martin Truex Jr. +600
  • Kyle Busch +750
  • Denny Hamlin +1100
  • More NASCAR Futures
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

So 40-to-1 with Harvick is a nice long shot to consider. I’m also going to have a bet on 2016 Watkins Glen winner Hamlin, who Circa Sports is offering at +1350, and I also like his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell at 20-to-1 odds to win. Bell’s only Cup win came in February on the Daytona road course. He also was runner-up in his last two races in the 750 HP package at Road America and New Hampshire.

I’m also mulling over Ross Chastain at 50-to-1 odds (William Hill) because of his consistency using the 750 package. Check out his last five starts using it: eighth at New Hampshire, seventh at Road America, runner-up at Nashville, seventh at Sonoma, and fourth at COTA. Both the Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolets, along with Kurt Busch (25/1), have been strong lately. Chastain’s team is giving him great cars.