Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Up to Speed: Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan Preview

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

After last weekend’s race at Watkins Glen saw Chase Elliott go back-to back on the upstate New York road course, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads back to Michigan for the second time this season to race on one of the biggest and fastest tracks on the circuit, Michigan International Speedway and Sunday’s running of the Consumers Energy 400.

With this race taking place near the home of two of the three manufacturers (Chevrolet and Ford), teams put extra emphasis on winning this race for bragging rights.

The two-mile speedway tends to favor the teams that can get the most horsepower out of their cars and since being repaved in 2012, the track’s groove has widened out every race since allowing drivers to race from the wall down to the apron. Though horsepower is key, fuel mileage is also a big key as races at this track come down to fuel mileage more often than not.

Unlike the first race of the season at the track back in June, PJ1 traction compound will be sprayed in the upper groove, giving this race another x-factor for the drivers and teams to have to adjust to.

By the Numbers

What: Consumers Energy 400, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race No. 23 of 36

Where: Michigan International Speedway – Brooklyn, Michigan (Opened: 1968)

When: Sunday, August 11

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network, 3:00 pm ET / MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90

Track Size:  2.0 mile D-shaped oval

Banking: Turns: 18 degrees; Straights: 12 degrees (front), 5 degrees (back)

Race Length: 200 laps, 400 miles

Stage Lengths: First two stages – 60 laps each, Final stage – 80 laps

June 2019 Race Winner: Joey Logano– No. 22 Ford (Started on pole, 163 laps led)

August 2018 Race Winner:  Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Ford (Started third, 108 laps led)

Track Qualifying Record: Jeff Gordon (34.857 seconds, 206.558 mph – 8/17/2014)

Top-10 Highest Driver Ratings at Michigan International Speedway:

  1. Chase Elliott – No. 9 Chevrolet – 101.9
  2. Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Ford – 98.7
  3. Joey Logano – No. 22 Ford – 98.6
  4. Kyle Larson – No. 42 Chevrolet – 96.3
  5. Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford – 96.3
  6. Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 Chevrolet – 94.3
  7. Ryan Blaney – No. 12 Ford – 92.1
  8. Kurt Busch – No. 1 Chevrolet – 91.8
  9. Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota – 89.8
  10. Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota – 89.2

From the Driver’s Seat

“There’s not much time between each race there, which is always kind of interesting when you go back, but the races do seem to act a little different when you go back there the second time,” said Joey Logano. “Some of that rubber we laid down from the first time is still there.  Whether or not they add some traction compound to the outside lane will change the race dramatically, so depending on how all that goes will definitely be interesting.

“That was the first time we went there with this rules package and now we’re going back there the second time.  When you go there the first time there’s a lot of questions.  Do we go this direction?  Do we want downforce?  Do we want drag out?  That’s the decision all these teams have to make, and after you race there once it becomes a little bit more clear on the direction a lot of teams want to go, so I’m sure it will be kind of interesting for me to see, at least the cars that weren’t competitive the first time if they’ve become more competitive from going a different direction.”

Last Time at Michigan

Joey Logano may have dominated the June race at Michigan, leading 163 laps after starting from the pole, but it wasn’t without excitement after a late caution pushed the race into overtime for a thrilling finish.

On the final restart, Logano got the jump, but Kurt Busch was hot on his heels after leapfrogging Martin Truex, Jr. when the green flag flew to move into second place. Busch tried all he could to get past Logano and score his first win for Chip Ganassi Racing, but in the end, Logano was just too tough, taking home his second win of the season.

“It feels so good to get into victory lane,” Logano said. “I gotta thank the fans, everyone that stuck it out through the rain yesterday and came out today to watch a great race and a wild ending. You don’t want to see cautions there at the end when you are the leader but as a fan that is like the one thing you do want to see. I am glad we got the best of both worlds.

“This one, outside of the crown jewel events I consider this the biggest race to win because it is Ford Motor Company’s backyard and Roger Penske’s backyard and there are a  lot of die-hard Ford fans out here in the grandstands right now and it feels great to represent that company and get to victory lane today.”

Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Friday, August 9

  • MENCS Practice (12:35 pm to 1:25 pm – NBC Sports Network)
  • MENCS Qualifying (5:05 pm – NBC Sports Network

Saturday, August 10

  • MENCS Practice (8:35 am to 9:25 am – No TV, NBC Sports App)
  • MENCS Final Practice (11:30 am to 12:20 pm – No TV, NBC Sports App)

Sunday, August 11

  • MENCS Consumers Energy 400 (3:00 pm – 200 laps, 400 miles – NBC Sports Network)

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.