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The Rundown: Michigan driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway : 1. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Twice, Larson had to overcome problems on pit road. Twice, Larson beat Chase Elliott on restarts from the front row. The second one, with 10 laps to go, was the difference. Larson gets his first Sprint Cup win in his 99th start and his ticket punched to the Chase. Well done. Grade: A 2. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Restarts, restarts, restarts. Elliott lost the first race at Michigan because of poor restarts and it happened again Sunday. And just like in June, Elliott finished second. Grade : A- 3. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . The native of Michigan posted his sixth straight top 10 at his home track but to his chagrin remained winless in the Irish Hills. Grade: A 4. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney needs a win to make the Chase, and he drove like it Sunday, posting his first top 10 in 10 races. Grade: A 5. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick led 33 laps, and his 3.56 averaging running position topped the field. Grade: A 6. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson was a factor -- and the leader -- until his green-flag pit stop on Lap 109. But his gas man had trouble refueling the No. 48, and from that point forward Johnson was playing catchup. His 37 laps led were second to Kyle Larson ’s 41. Grade: A- 7. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards now has two wins, seven top fives and 15 top 10s in 2016. That’s what he had all of last season. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray finished eighth for the third consecutive week. He holds the last spot in the Chase standings by 15 points over Ryan Newman with two races to go before the field is set. Grade: A 9. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin’s sixth straight top-10 finish is the longest active streak. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . All of the polesitter’s strength came at the start of the race. A slow final pit stop left him 17th on the last restart. Grade: A- 11. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle had a nice finish, but he was never a factor. Only Kyle Busch ’s 26 laps in the top 15 were fewer than Biffle’s 44 among drivers who finished in the top 20. Grade: B 12. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Borrowing a page from Greg Biffle … Busch was not a factor, either, and only his brother’s 24.84 average running position was worse than his 17.34 among drivers who finished in the top 20. Grade: B 13. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . In the first 12 races of the season, Kenseth led 398 laps. In the next 12, 79 laps, including eight Sunday, his first laps led since his victory last month at New Hampshire. Grade: B 14. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne is going to need a win -- or a miracle -- to make the Chase field. He trails Jamie McMurray by 52 points for the final Chase-eligible spot after finishing outside the top 10 for the eighth straight race. Grade: B 15. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger finished in the top 15 in four consecutive races for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. Grade: B 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon is 15th in the Chase standings with a 21-point cushion over Ryan Newman in 17th. Grade: B 17. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman should consider himself fortunate to be only 15 points out of 16th with two races to go for the Chase field is set -- he hasn’t had a top-10 finish in his past five races. Grade: B- 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Regular readers of The Rundown know we have been enthralled by Menard’s propensity to finish 18th. He racked up his sixth of the season Sunday. Grade: C 19. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch's troubles at Michigan continued when he got loose in Turn 4 on the 26th lap and went for a spin. His average finish in his past seven starts at Michigan is 32.0 with one finish on the lead lap -- and it wasn't Sunday. Grade: C 20. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex's shot at winning or having a top finish ended on Lap 66 when the jack man lowered the car before the left rear tire was changed. The damaged left-rear quarter panel was an issue the rest of the day. Grade: C- 21. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The driver with a win and five top fives in a seven-race stretch has finished 30th and 21st in his past two races. Is the mojo gone? Grade: C 22. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears finished outside the top 10 at Michigan for the 13th consecutive race. Grade: C 23. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This marks the first time in Patrick's four full-time Sprint Cup seasons she has not finished in the top 20 in at least one of the two Michigan races. She finished 21st in June. Grade: C 24. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne went into last week's race at Bristol eight points out of the final Chase spot. He leaves Michigan 58 points back. Grade: C 25. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Michigan is one of two tracks on which Almirola has made at least 10 starts and has yet to post a top 10. (The other is Pocono.) Grade: C- 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith posted his best finish at Michigan since a career-best 13th in August of 2011. Grade: C 27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Since scoring a career-best 15th at Michigan in August 2014, Stenhouse's finishes at the 2-mile track are 25th, 26th, 29th and 27th. Grade: C- 28. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Sunday’s race was something to build on: In his first race at Michigan in June, Scott left with a 36th-place finish and a DNF (crash). Grade: C 29. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Because of Ragan's proximity to Chris Buescher in the standings, he will continue to be one of the most-watched drivers through Richmond. On Sunday, Ragan took a nibble out of Buescher's points lead and is now seven points behind Buescher for 30th in the standings. Grade: C 30. Alex Bowman , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Bowman started sixth and was running in the top five when the car’s ignition failed. A day of promise ended right there, and Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s replacement finished five laps back. Grade: D 31. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell won Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Road America , but his string of top-20 Sprint Cup finishes ended at a season-best two. Grade: D 32. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto battled brake issues all day. Grade: D 33. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A blown tire brought out the fourth and final caution, and Annett finished five laps back. Grade: D 34. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt produced his worst finish in six starts at Michigan. Grade: D 35. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . With so much at stake, the No. 34 team could not afford the engine woes that dumped Buescher to 35th -- he finished 20th at Michigan in June -- but at least he didn’t finish last. Those extra five points might make the difference between making the Chase and major disappointment. Another positive takeaway: David Ragan could muster only a 29th-place finish. Grade: F 36. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson finished seven laps off the pace. Grade: D 37. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt had an accident in practice and was in a backup car. He finished eight laps back. Grade: D 38. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise's finish was his worst at Michigan since a 39th-place run in August 2013. Grade: F 39. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Suspension woes limited Cassill to 174 laps and left him with his first DNF of the season. Grade: F 40. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer said before the race he had his best car of the year. Yikes! Vibrations sent the No. 15 behind the wall, but Bowyer avoided a DNF, although he did finish 40 laps off the pace. Grade: F
Hamlin to Elliott: 'Have more fun, less stress'
MORE: Elliott foiled on final restart Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Chase Elliott once again narrowly missed out on his first Sprint Cup Series win -- and once again, he was devastatingly hard on himself. USA Today's Jeff Gluck wrote a letter to the Hendrick Motorsports rookie on Monday, addressing the fact that to this point in the season, Elliott is actually out-performing four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon's final season and he just needs to enjoy the ride. Wins will come. (You may recall -- the 20-year-old replaced Gordon after he hung up the full-time firesuit last season, so those stats are pretty compelling.) Former HMS driver and all-around NASCAR sage of wisdom Mark Martin agrees. "(I) just made another mistake." -- @chaseelliott after his P2 run at Michigan. https://t.co/DOTaTLEmFn — NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 29, 2016 Way to self critical. @chaseelliott is doing amazing things behind the wheel and should give himself a little credit https://t.co/XCNxNJdz7b — Mark Martin (@markmartin) August 29, 2016 The letter also points out that Elliott brings to mind another uber-competitive rookie that we saw a decade ago -- Denny Hamlin. And that seems to have turned out just fine for the 2016 Daytona 500 champion. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver chimed in on Elliott and the letter on Monday, telling the young phenom to stop stressing so much and have more fun. I must say. I agree. Have more fun less stress https://t.co/ZkyeL4SFIF — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 29, 2016 @dennyhamlin — Frustration born from the desire to validate the opportunity by winning. I seem to recall a similar ol’ boy from Chesterfield — Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) August 29, 2016 No question. Then a crew chief named Mike Ford says to me"Your in a losing business, find happiness in other ways" https://t.co/SJ6Cu2bUUU — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 29, 2016 In other words, chillax, bro. You're an elite talent at a young age. Your time will come.
Watch: Live post-race inspection on Tuesday
RELATED: Watch the live stream here " Michigan results NASCAR.com will live stream post-race inspection Tuesday from 8-11:30 a.m. ET at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. Tune in for a three-and-a-half-hour view of the inspection floor of the 61,000-square-foot shop, bringing you behind the scenes as NASCAR officials tear down and inspect Sprint Cup Series vehicles following Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway . The three cars selected for further evaluation at the R&D Center this week are: -- The No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet of race winner Kyle Larson -- The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of race runner-up Chase Elliott -- The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of seventh-place finisher Carl Edwards Of note, the No. 2 Team Penske Ford of third-place finisher Brad Keselowski failed post-race laser inspection at Michigan. Any potential penalties will likely be announced later this week. RELATED: No. 2 of Keselowski fails post-race inspection For more details about the inspection process, click here .
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 24 of the 2016 season at Michigan International Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Wins Attempts 1 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 799 0 0 1 0 2 24 2 Team Penske 2 774 -25 -25 2 0 4 24 3 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 724 -75 -50 4 1 2 24 4 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 721 -78 -3 3 -1 1 24 5 Team Penske 22 716 -83 -5 5 0 1 24 6 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 696 -103 -20 6 0 4 24 7 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 691 -108 -5 7 0 2 24 8 Furniture Row Racing 78 652 -147 -39 8 0 1 24 9 Hendrick Motorsports 48 648 -151 -4 9 0 2 24 10 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 633 -166 -15 10 0 2 24 11 Hendrick Motorsports 24 628 -171 -5 12 1 0 24 12 Richard Childress Racing 3 622 -177 -6 11 -1 0 24 13 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 616 -183 -6 13 0 0 24 14 Richard Childress Racing 31 601 -198 -15 14 0 0 24 15 Hendrick Motorsports 88 586 -213 -15 15 0 0 24 16 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 582 -217 -4 18 2 1 24 17 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 572 -227 -10 16 -1 1 24 18 Hendrick Motorsports 5 564 -235 -8 19 1 0 24 19 Roush Fenway Racing 6 558 -241 -6 17 -2 0 24 20 Wood Brothers Racing 21 545 -254 -13 22 2 0 24 21 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 544 -255 -1 20 -1 0 24 22 Roush Fenway Racing 17 528 -271 -16 21 -1 0 24 23 Roush Fenway Racing 16 472 -327 -56 23 0 0 24 24 Richard Childress Racing 27 454 -345 -18 25 1 0 24 25 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 450 -349 -4 24 -1 0 24 26 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 422 -377 -28 27 1 0 24 27 HScott Motorsports 15 408 -391 -14 26 -1 0 24 28 Germain Racing 13 394 -405 -14 28 0 0 24 29 Front Row Motorsports 38 357 -442 -37 29 0 0 24 30 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 354 -445 -3 30 0 0 24 31 Front Row Motorsports 34 334 -465 -20 31 0 1 24 32 BK Racing 23 327 -472 -7 32 0 0 24 33 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 309 -490 -18 33 0 0 24 34 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 304 -495 -5 34 0 0 24 35 BK Racing 83 254 -545 -50 35 0 0 24 36 Premium Motorsports 98 241 -558 -13 36 0 0 24 37 HScott Motorsports 46 211 -588 -30 37 0 0 24 38 GO FAS Racing 32 199 -600 -12 38 0 0 24 39 Premium Motorsports 55 150 -649 -49 39 0 0 19 40 The Motorsports Group 30 123 -676 -27 40 0 0 24 41 Front Row Motorsports 35 46 -753 -77 41 0 0 3 42 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -773 -20 42 0 0 1 43 BK Racing 93 11 -788 -15 43 0 0 4 44 BK Racing 26 3 -796 -8 44 0 0 1 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 -799 -3 45 0 0 1
Brad Keselowski's No. 2 fails post-race inspection
RELATED: Full race results " Updated standings Team Penske 's No. 2 Ford driven by Brad Keselowski to a third-place finish Sunday failed post-race inspection at Michigan International Speedway . Keselowski's entry failed during its trip through the Laser Inspection System (LIS) platform after the Pure Michigan 400 . Any potential penalties for the No. 2 would be announced this week. "That's a standard penalty that we'll issue," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive" on Monday. "The teams worked with us and asked for that as well, that if you do fail, there will be a standard penalty issued." Previous LIS violations have produced P3-grade penalties and a 15-point deduction in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. The rest of the cars inspected post-race were cleared by NASCAR officials. NASCAR's competition department said it planned to take the following cars back to its Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, for further inspection: -- The Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet of race winner Kyle Larson -- The Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet of race runner-up Chase Elliott -- The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota of seventh-place finisher Carl Edwards
Truex leads speedsters in first practice at Michigan
RELATED: Practice 1 results " Top 10 consecutive lap averages Martin Truex Jr . flew to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Friday as soaring speeds dominated opening practice at Michigan International Speedway . Truex pushed the Furniture Row No. 78 Toyota to a best lap of 201.545 mph on the 2-mile track. He was the fastest of 10 drivers to break the 200-mph barrier. The clocking was well above the 199.557 mph lap that clinched the Coors Light Pole Award for Joey Logano in Michigan qualifying in June. Jimmie Johnson was second-fastest in opening preparation for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), recording a lap of 201.134 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet. Logano (200.966 mph), rookie Ryan Blaney (200.775 mph) and Kyle Larson (200.730 mph) completed the top five. This weekend marks what is expected to be the final audition for the premier series' 2017 aerodynamic rules package, which is intended to reduce the effects of downforce and sideforce. The series also used the package in Michigan's 400-miler in June. Race officials also took measures to try to widen the racing groove, using a tire-dragging vehicle to build rubber into the asphalt. The "Tire Dragon" truck was used in the days leading up to Friday's on-track activity. Jeffrey Earnhardt brought out the practice's only stoppage with just less than 10 minutes remaining, scraping the outside retaining wall in Turn 2 and causing significant damage to his Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford. Earnhardt indicated to NBCSN that the team would unload a reserve car before qualifying. Defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch was sixth-fastest in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Defending race winner Matt Kenseth , his JGR teammate in the No. 20 Toyota, was 18th-fastest in the 85-minute session. Four drivers were docked 15 minutes of practice time for minor infractions. Those were Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards , Richard Childress Racing driver Paul Menard and BK Racing 's Matt DiBenedetto . Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Two additional Sprint Cup practices are set Saturday (8:30-9:25 a.m. ET, 11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m. ET). Both Saturday practices will be televised on CNBC.
Logano leaps to Coors Light Pole Award at Michigan
RELATED: Qualifying results " See every car, team rosters BROOKLYN, Mich. – If Joey Logano was looking for a good omen for Sunday, he found it on Friday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway . Touring the two-mile track in 35.697 seconds (201.698 mph) during the final round of knockout qualifying for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Logano edged Jimmie Johnson (201.523 mph) for the top starting spot by .031 seconds. The Coors Light Pole Award was Logano's third at MIS. On the previous two occasions the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford started first on the grid—in August 2013 and June 2016—he won the subsequent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Should Logano win form the pole on Sunday, he would be the third driver to win three or more Michigan races from the top starting spot, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson and Bill Elliott . "Any time you put your name with a Hall of Famer of any sort, it would be really special for me," said Logano, who has collected three poles this season and 16 in his career. "That's crazy—that's a really, really neat stat. "We've got to do it though. But, obviously, starting up front here is an advantage, for sure. We talk about track position. We talk about safety on restart, being how crazy it is with the low-downforce package. And the first pit stall—probably the most important thing of all is keeping the track position through the race." And, of course, when Logano is fast in qualifying trim at MIS, he usually races well, too. "I'm excited about it," he said. "I thought our car was really fast in race trim earlier (in practice). ... I didn't think we were going to make it happen today (in qualifying), but (crew chief) Todd (Gordon) made some good adjustments, and he gave me a little pep talk, and I was ready to go. I was going to drive the heck out of that thing." Denny Hamlin (201.406 mph) qualified third, followed by Kevin Harvick (201.382 mph) and Chase Elliott (201.303 mph). Johnson's second-place start led a resurgence by Hendrick Motorsports , which placed all four cars in the top 12 during qualifying for only the second time this season, the first coming in May at Talladega, a restrictor-plate track. "It was just an awesome day for this Lowe's race car and this Lowe's race team," Johnson said. "We keep stacking pennies and making this car better and better. "My hat's off to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and all the hard work they're putting into things. Great practice and great qualifying. We need some more practice sessions (Saturday) and roll them into a good race." Johnson participated in a NASCAR organization test (one car per team) on Tuesday at Chicagoland Speedway and found the session helpful in finding speed. Indeed, the Hendrick cars more than held their own against the four entries from Joe Gibbs Racing , which have been the dominant force in Cup qualifying this season. Hamlin and Carl Edwards (ninth), were the only two JGR drivers to make the top 12, with Matt Kenseth qualifying 13th and Kyle Busch 16th. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
How Matt Kenseth helped John Krasinski land role of 'Jim' on 'The Office'
It's nearly impossible to think an actor besides John Krasinski playing the role of 'Jim Halpert' on the American version of "The Office," but it may not have happened without the help of Matt Kenseth . Did that just blow your mind? It should have. Back in 2002 -- a full three years before the NBC premiere of inarguably the greatest comedy series of all time, in my opinion, at least -- a fresh-faced Krasinski appeared in a commercial with Kenseth that caught the eye of future "Office" executive producer, Greg Daniels. The back-and-forth dialogue between last fall's grand marshal at Texas Motor Speedway and Kenseth (more back than forth, knowing the stoic Joe Gibbs Racing driver) and wild antics by the now-36-year-old led to an audition and before long, "Jim" was born. Krasinski recently spoke about it on NPR's Fresh Air podcast with Dave Davies . "I haven't seen or heard that since the time I did it. That is a real send back to memory lane," Krasinski said. " … That was a huge performance and I remember we had a little bit of script and Matt Kenseth had said he doesn't want to have a line in the script. He was very shy and he didn't want ... he just wanted to walk through the commercial. "At the end of the day, they just asked 'Would you just improv and have fun? Let's see what we get' and we just kept going and I think they just watched the dog go off the leash, just improving all this stuff. By the end, Matt said 'Well, now I do want to say some stuff.' So he came in and we were joking around all day. It was probably one of the more fun times I've had, certainly before I got 'The Office . ' " The commercial worked wonders for both men, as Krasinski is now a household name and Kenseth won five races that year, following it up with his only premier series title the following season. Watch the full commercial below.
Hamlin tops chart, spins in final Michigan practice
RELATED: Full practice results " Top 10 consecutive lap averages Denny Hamlin set the pace in final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Saturday at Michigan International Speedway , but damaged his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota in a spin midway through the session. Hamlin, who qualified third in Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying, clocked a lap of 197.878 mph in Saturday's final practice. The session, originally scheduled for 50 minutes, was halted with approximately 27 minutes left because of lightning in the area of the 2-mile track. Hamlin told NBCSN that the car got loose "out of the blue" as he navigated Turn 4. He avoided contact with the wall, but did slight damage when the nose of his car dug into the grass bordering the frontstretch. Hamlin indicated the team did not expect to deploy the reserve car. RELATED: All the cars at Michigan as they'll line up Rookie Chase Elliott was second-fastest at 197.786 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. He was followed by two Hendrick teammates on the leaderboard -- third-fastest Jimmie Johnson (197.694 mph) and fourth-best Kasey Kahne (197.455 mph). Michigan native Brad Keselowski completed the top five in the final prep for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). Team Penske teammate Joey Logano , who secured the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday qualifying, was seventh-fastest. Alex Bowman , subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr . in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet, was 10th-fastest at 196.969 mph. Stewart atop Saturday's early practice Tony Stewart topped the speed chart in Saturday's morning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session at Michigan International Speedway ahead of Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Stewart circled the 2-mile track in his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet with a fast time of 202.122 mph to pace the 55-minute practice session. "Smoke" has one win in the Irish Hills in 33 starts there. Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, 201.427 mph) and Chase Elliott (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 201.196 mph) came in second and third, respectively. Both drivers are in search of their first win in the sport's top series. Kurt Busch (No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, 201.089 mph) and Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet, 200.932 mph) completed the top five. Alex Bowman , who will pilot the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr . this weekend, placed eighth in practice. All told, 12 drivers crossed the 200 mph mark on their laps Saturday morning. Polesitter Joey Logano placed 16th in the session. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Alex Tagliani wins XFINITY pole at Road America
RELATED: Starting lineup Alex Tagliani won the Coors Light Pole Award at Road America on Friday in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Tagliani wheeled his No. 22 Team Penske Ford around the 4.05-mile road course at a top speed of 109.866 mph. That was better than Michael McDowell l, who finished second in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at 109.561 mph. For Tagliani, it was his fourth pole win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and his second at Road America . Justin Marks (No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet), Owen Kelly (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) and Daniel Suarez (No. 19 JGR Toyota) rounded out the top five qualifiers. Alon Day, who hails from Israel, is a NASCAR Next driver and is driving the MBM Motorsports No. 13 Dodge, found trouble in Round 1 of qualifying when he went into the sand trap off Turn 12 (of 14) with just over 16 minutes remaining in the opening session. The incident brought out a red flag. Another red flag came out during Round 1 when Josh Bilicki, who was driving the No. 77 Obaika Racing Chevrolet, spun coming off Turn 1, slid through the sand trap and impacted the tire barrier. The Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville gets underway at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and marks the third road-course race in four events for the series.