Race: Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400
Date: Sunday June 19th, 2011
Track: Michigan International Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
Bet on the Sour Cream Dips 400 at one of the oldest and most trusted sportsbooks on the web: Intertops.
The Tricky Triangle proved to be a great track for Jeff Gordon, despite some pretty bad luck here in the past. His brakes held out as did his luck with some of the top frontrunners having big problems throughout the race. Denny Hamlin, who easily led the field for some time, ended his race with a disappointing 19th. Carl Edwards ended up finishing 37th after having a valve failure. It was an odd day for the strongest contenders. Needless to say, Gordon picked up a much needed win and some motivation and confidence to go along with it.
This weekend, we are heading to Michigan. This 2 mile D-shaped oval is actually pretty similar to the triangle track in the way that it drives, despite having an additional turn. The turns are 18 degrees. The frontstretch is 12 degrees, and the backstretch is 5 degrees. The frontstretch comes in at 3600 feet, which is sure to give these guys plenty of speed going into turn 1. The backstretch is nothing to sneeze at, coming in at 2242 feet.
What we saw last weekend was again pit strategy. It seems like this year, more than any other, we are focusing on the technicalities of pitting and how that is going to win the race for these drivers. Fuel mileage has been the big story over the last few weeks, even last week. It’s interesting because we are seeing more and more of the drivers coming in during green flags and staggering their pit stops to work with fuel mileage rather than track position as has been the story for decades. Track position has proven to be not as hot a commodity as everyone thought. That being said, these fuel strategy pit stops eventually put the drivers where they want to be, but usually not until the end of the race.
It will be interesting to see what happens here at Michigan. We are going to see if tires or fuel play a bigger role this weekend, but the way that things have been going, it would seem that fuel mileage is going to be the name of the game. Short pitting may win the race. Now, when we talk about contenders, I think that we are going to see similar success from those guys that were strong at Pocono. This weekend, though, I am going with Kurt Busch to take the win. Kevin Harvick will be close as well, but Busch is still running strong and seems to have the pit strategy down. Denny Hamlin will certainly have a good run here as he is the defending winner, but it seems like he has some very random bad luck, so putting money on him is risky sometimes.
I’m hoping for the sake of his team that Jeff Gordon can carry the momentum from Pocono into Michigan for another top 5 win, but we will have to wait and see. Other notables for this race are going to be Carl Edwards, Juan Montoya, and Dale Jr. Jr. has been running great and just needs to get to the front and stay out there. He and crew chief, Steve Letarte, are working on communication, which will certainly help their pit road strategy.
Here’s a look at your current top 10 in the points after Pocono:
1. Carl Edwards
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Kyle Busch
6. Kurt Busch
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Tony Stewart
10. Ryan Newman
Ryan Newman has managed to hold on for yet another week, but Jeff Gordon has made it a 6 point battle to get back in the game. Now, remember, those guys in 11th and 12th can still make the Chase on the wild card depending on wins, so Gordon and Hamlin are in it as of right now. Hamlin fell a spot to 12th, though, so he needs a good finish this weekend to solidify his chances of staying in the Chase. There was no movement from 1st through 7th, so you can see that those guys are doing what they need to do in terms of being consistent week in and week out.
Stay tuned this weekend for Michigan, and we will see how far some of these guys will take this fuel mileage battle to get to victory lane!
Virginia’s Prediction to Win: Kurt Busch.