Fantasy Fastlane: Pure Michigan 400
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Logano leaps to Coors Light Pole Award at Michigan
RELATED: Qualifying results 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.
Fun with fitness: Cassill circles Michigan on foot
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Swapping his Front Row Motorsports fire suit for a Snap Fitness T-shirt, a pair of athletic shorts and sneakers, Landon Cassill stood at Michigan International Speedway 's start/finish line ready to take his daily workout to the 2-mile track and turn some laps Friday morning -- on foot. Donning sunglasses and handling his 1-year-old son Beckham via stroller, the No. 38 wheelman wore his signature smile, eager for some cardio before driver duties called. "I feel like I get out more than most of the other race car drivers," Cassill told NASCAR.com, admitting that he even tries to get in a "bike ride Saturday afternoons." All of this is to help the 27-year-old train for his various competitions, which include triathlons and other races. Cassill recently spent a rare off weekend in Ireland to compete in a half Ironman (a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run) on Aug. 14. His answer was simple when asked why he traveled to Europe for the 70.3-mile race instead of enjoying some hard-earned downtime. "It's just my hobby. I really look forward to it. … (We) made a vacation of it." His "hobby" correlates nicely with his primary sponsor, Snap Fitness, and helps the six-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver as he balances his racing career on top of his off-track interests. "Snap really supports what I do," he furthered while jogging toward Turn 1. "They give me the resources to train on the road because their fitness centers are open 24 hours." When Cassill isn't racing by foot and bike or behind the wheel, he is connecting with his fans on social media, making sure his personality comes across on his time line -- from his token "38, nice" slogan to adorable shots of his young family. And with no upcoming Ironman races planned, Cassill can now focus solely on his driving responsibilities as he gears up for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Race day, however, presumably will commence with a workout before he gets behind the wheel.
Michigan gives final sneak peek at proposed '17 aero package
The prospective 2017 aerodynamic rules package for NASCAR's premier series will receive what likely will be its final dress rehearsal this weekend at Michigan International Speedway . NASCAR officials announced the move July 28, one month ahead of Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). The 400 -mile race is expected to be the last step before NASCAR's competition department delivers final, formal aero rules to teams as preparations for next season begin. The rules at the 2-mile track this weekend will be a repeat of what the series competed with earlier this year in a 400 -mile event won by Joey Logano . The rules are designed to reduce the over-stabilizing effects of downforce and sideforce with smaller spoilers, fewer cooling fans, and a neutral body alignment that eliminates rear axle offset, or "skew." The Sprint Cup Series began the season with a five-stage process for testing and validating the potential 2017 rules setup. With last month's announcement, there's an unexpected sixth stage, intended to help competition officials accumulate more data and feedback before finalizing the package. Similar incarnations of the package went through testing at Michigan (May 17) and Kentucky Speedway (June 13-14) before being used in race conditions at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 21), Michigan (June 12) and Kentucky (July 9). Competition officials have indicated they do not intend to adjust aero rules for any of the 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, which begin Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway . The reduction of downforce and other aerodynamic stability has been an evolving philosophy during the last two seasons. The guiding principles behind the trends involve placing more control and input into the drivers' hands, and promoting side-by-side racing by minimizing the advantages of undisturbed, "clean" air for leading cars. Last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway , several drivers mentioned their desire for further testing of the package at more varied tracks before the 2017 rules are decided. Carl Edwards , winner of the series' two most recent Coors Light Pole Awards, still said he was encouraged by the push toward lower downforce, saying, "I think that the less we have, the better." " Michigan is a tough place because even though we're reducing downforce, there is still a lot of it, but it's a very high-speed track so any aero changes, they are magnified there," Edwards added. "Hopefully the track has aged some there. It's a little hotter the second time back and there's a little more rubber down, and hopefully it provides a really good race. "I hope it's a good test of that package. You test it at a new repave like Kentucky and you test it at a really, really fast single-groove track right now like Michigan and it's really hard to gauge where it's at, but I really applaud NASCAR trying and going that direction. I think what you've seen this year with all the great racing and the passing and all that is due in large part to the reduced downforce. If we can keep going that way, it's going to be good." </p>
Chase-clinching scenarios for Michigan and Road America
With three races remaining in the regular season, 10 drivers have clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , assuming each driver starts the remaining races. The 10 clinchers: Brad Keselowski , Kyle Busch , Carl Edwards , Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Joey Logano , Martin Truex Jr . and Denny Hamlin . Everyone who has a win this season is locked in -- except for Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher , both of whom have yet to clinch a top-30 spot. Stewart can clinch a top 30 spot at Michigan with some help as he must be 91 points ahead of the 31st position in the standings. A number of drivers who currently have no wins can clinch this weekend, but only if they win the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Winless drivers in the standings from Austin Dillon all the way to Aric Almirola could lock in a spot with a victory. See the Sprint Cup standings here . Possible to Clinch: -- Tony Stewart (1 Win, 400 Points, +85 Points Ahead of 31st): Could Clinch a Top 30 spot with help (magic number is 91 points), which is all he needs to do to clinch on wins. The following drivers would clinch with a win: -- Austin Dillon (0 Wins, 596 Points, +281 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Chase Elliott (0 Wins, 588 Points, +273 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Jamie McMurray (0 Wins, 583 Points, +268 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Ryan Newman (0 Wins, 576 Points, +261 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Trevor Bayne (0 Wins, 541 Points, +226 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Kyle Larson (0 Wins, 537 Points, +222 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Kasey Kahne (0 Wins, 537 Points, +222 Points Ahead of 31st) -- AJ Allmendinger (0 Wins, 518 Points, +203 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr (0 Wins, 514 Points, +199 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Ryan Blaney (0 Wins, 508 Points, +193 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr (0 Wins, 461 Points, +146 Points Ahead of 31st)** -- Greg Biffle (0 Wins, 441 Points, +126 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Danica Patrick (0 Wins, 432 Points, +117 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Paul Menard (0 Wins, 431 Points, +116 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Clint Bowyer (0 Wins, 407 Points, +92 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Aric Almirola (0 Wins, 406 Points, +91 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Casey Mears (0 Wins, 375 Points, +60 Points Ahead of 31st): With a win, he could clinch a Chase spot on wins if he got help with clinching a Top 30 spot. **Not entered at Michigan XFINITY The following drivers have already clinched a spot in the top 30 of the points standings, so a win at Road America (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) would lock them into the Chase field -- Justin Allgaier , Ty Dillon , Brendan Gaughan , Brennan Poole , Brandon Jones , Darrell Wallace Jr ., Ryan Reed , Blake Koch , Ryan Sieg , Ross Chastain , Dakoda Armstrong , Jeremy Clements , Ryan Preece , Ray Black Jr . and BJ McLeod . Joey Gase would also clinch a Chase spot with a win. Camping World Truck With a win at Michigan (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), any of the four drivers currently sitting with one win would clinch their Chase spot. -- Johnny Sauter (1 Win, 306 Points, +243 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Christopher Bell (1 Win, 296 Points, +233 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Ben Kennedy (1 Win, 287 Points, +224 Points Ahead of 31st) -- John Hunter Nemechek (1 Win, 281 Points, +218 Points Ahead of 31st) Daniel Hemric (0 Wins, 312 Points, +249 Points Ahead of 31st) -- With a win and help, he would clinch a Chase spot on wins. (The help would be in the form of all winless drivers being eliminated from leading the standings after Chicago.)
Hornish Jr. to fill in for McDowell at Michigan
CONCORD, N.C. (August 23, 2016) – Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) has announced that Sam Hornish Jr . will fill in for Michael McDowell on Friday and Saturday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend at Michigan International Speedway . McDowell is scheduled to race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Road America for Richard Childress Racing on Friday and Saturday. He will then travel to Michigan International Speedway and drive the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet on Sunday in the Pure Michigan 400 for Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing .
Jeff Gordon won't drive No. 88 car at Michigan
RELATED: Dale Jr. offers rehab update on social media BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition remains undetermined. But if the series' most popular driver remains sidelined when the series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the Aug. 28 Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), it will be Alex Bowman and not Jeff Gordon handling the driving duties of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. Gordon, who made his fourth start for the team at Bristol Motor Speedway , will not be available due to a prior commitment, according to Hendrick officials. However, the four-time series champion will travel to Michigan to support the team on Sunday. Earnhardt is recovering from concussion-like symptoms that have kept him sidelined since July. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol was the fifth race he's missed. Bowman drove for the team at Loudon, New Hampshire, following Earnhardt's initial diagnosis. Gordon took over the following week, and has competed at Indianapolis, Pocono and Watkins Glen prior to Bristol. Bowman, 23, finished 26th in his fill-in role for Earnhardt at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Gordon, meanwhile, has finishes of 13th, 27th, 14th and 11th, respectively, in his four starts with the team. . @JeffGordonWeb has prior commitment that won't allow him to be in Mich. for entire race wknd. @AlexBRacing to sub if @DaleJr isn't cleared. — Hendrick 88 Team (@Hendrick88Team) August 19, 2016 Happy to be on standby for @DaleJr and @TeamHendrick at @MISpeedway . Hopefully Dale is cleared but if not I'm ready to go! — Alex Bowman (@AlexBRacing) August 20, 2016 UPDATE: The 88 team does not expect to make an announcement for Michigan until Wednesday afternoon. We don’t expect to make an announcement regarding @MISpeedway before Wednesday afternoon. — Hendrick 88 Team (@Hendrick88Team) August 22, 2016 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Full schedule for Michigan and Road America
RELATED: Find NBCSN in your area " Watch live online at NBCSports.com The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series will gather for a doubleheader showing at Michigan International Speedway this weekend while the XFINITY Series makes a stop at Road America . Check out the full schedule below. Note: All times are ET FRIDAY, AUG. 26: ON TRACK: MICHIGAN -- Noon-1:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series first practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) -- 1:30-2:25 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series first practice, FS2 ( Follow live ) -- 4-4:55 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS2 ( Follow live ) -- 5:15 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- 11:30 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series -- 1 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 11:30 a.m.: Tyler Reddick -- 11:45 a.m.: Cameron Hayley -- 2 p.m.: Austin Dillon -- 2:15 p.m.: Greg Biffle -- 3:45 p.m.: Alex Bowman -- 6:30 p.m. approx.: Post-NSCS Coors Light Pole Qualifying ON TRACK: ROAD AMERICA -- 10-10:55 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series first practice ( Follow live ) -- Noon-1:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice ( Follow live ) -- 6:35 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) SATURDAY, AUG. 27: ON TRACK: MICHIGAN -- 8:30-9:25 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, CNBC ( Follow live ) -- 9:45 a.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, CNBC ( Follow live ) -- 1 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers for Veterans 200 Presented by Cooper Standard and Brad Keselowski 's Checkered Flag Foundation (100 laps, 200 miles), FS1 ( Follow live ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 3 p.m. approx.: Post-NCWTS race ON TRACK: ROAD AMERICA -- 3 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville (45 laps, 182.16 miles), NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) SUNDAY, AUG. 28: ON TRACK: MICHIGAN -- 2 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 (200 laps, 400 miles), NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 5:30 p.m. approx.: Post-NSCS race
Logano snags the pole for the Pure Michigan 400
Joey Logano puts the pedal to the floor as he earns the Coors Light Pole Award at Michigan International Speedway for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 with a lap of 201.698 mph.
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.