NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: FireKeepers Casino 400
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, August 7
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
The Purse: $7,125,085
TV: USA, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 400 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: New Holland 250
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, August 6
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
The Purse: $1,269,941
TV: USA, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 250 miles (125 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 125)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Worldwide Express 250 for Carrier Appreciation
The Place: Richmond Raceway
The Date: Friday, August 13
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
The Purse: $744,951
TV: FS1, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 187.5 miles (250 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 70),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 140), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 250)
NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR Cup Series is set to bring all the high-speed action to Michigan
Sparks are flying as the NASCAR Cup Series regular season is winding down and with just four races to go, the competitors head to Michigan International Speedway this weekend for the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday, August 7 at 3 p.m. ET (USA Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Victory Lane has had a rotating door this season with 14 different Cup winners having already secured their spot in the Playoffs heading into this Sunday at Michigan; including last weekend‘s Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course winner, Tyler Reddick, who wrestled away his second victory of the season in impressive fashion.
Challenging the competitors this week will be the massive Michigan International Speedway, which 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 two-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 International Speedway was held on June 15, 1969, and the event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough in the Wood Brothers Racing‘s No. 21 Mercury at an average speed of 139.254 mph.
The NASCAR Cup Series events at Michigan International Speedway have been run at multiple different lengths. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan was 500 miles in length; the second was scheduled for 600 — one of only three tracks all-time with a Cup Series event scheduled for 600 miles or more; joining Charlotte Motor Speedway and Trenton (New Jersey) Speedway. Michigan 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 the two 2020 races during the pandemic that were 312 miles each and run on consecutive days.
Michigan International Speedway has hosted a total of 104 NASCAR Cup Series races producing 50 different pole winners and 39 different race winners. 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 39 NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Michigan are active this weekend.
Active Michigan Race WinnersWinsSeasonsKevin Harvick52020 sweep, 2019, 2018, 2010Joey Logano32019, 2016, 2013Kurt Busch32015, 2007, 2003Kyle Larson32017 sweep, 2016Denny Hamlin22011, 2010Ryan Blaney12021Kyle Busch12011
A total of 50 different drivers have qualified on the pole at Michigan International Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson with 10 poles (1969, 1974 sweep, 1975, 1976, 1977 sweep, 1978 sweep and 1979). Joey Logano leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in poles at Michigan with four (2013, 2016 sweep, 2019).
Active Michigan Pole WinnersPolesSeasonsJoey Logano42019, 2016 sweep, 2013Kurt Busch32018, 2011, 2010Brad Keselowski22019, 2017Denny Hamlin12018Kyle Larson12017Kevin Harvick12014JJ Yeley12007
This weekend at Michigan, the NASCAR Cup Series on-track activity kicks off with practice on Saturday, August 6 at 12:35 p.m. ET directly followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 1:20 p.m. ET — both events can be viewed on the NBC Sports App at 12:30 p.m. ET.
The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more NASCAR Cup Series winners (22) than any other starting position at Michigan International Speedway: 21 winners 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.
Team Penske‘s Ryan Blaney returns to Michigan looking to go back-to-back
Needing a win to secure his spot in the Playoffs this season, Team Penske‘s Ryan Blaney revisits Michigan International Speedway with hopes of returning to Victory Lane this weekend and making it back-to-back victories at the two-mile facility. If Blaney wins this weekend, he will become the 11th different driver to win consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway joining:
Bobby Allison (1971 sweep),David Pearson (1972 sweep — 1973), (1974-1975),Cale Yarborough (1983 sweep),Bill Elliott (1985 sweep — 1986 sweep),Bobby Labonte (1995 sweep),Mark Martin (1997-1998),Ryan Newman (2003-2004),Greg Biffle (2004-2005), (2012-2013)Kyle Larson won three-straight at Michigan (2016-2017).Kevin Harvick (2019, 2020-1, 2020-2) — only driver to win in consecutive days at a single track.
The 28-year-old from High Point, North Carolina, Blaney, is currently ranked 15th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff outlook, 121 points ahead of Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Kevin Harvick in 17th — the first spot outside the postseason cutoff. In 22 starts this season, Blaney has scored five stage wins, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.
Last season, Blaney only led the final eight laps of the race after taking the lead on the final restart en route to his win. In total, Blaney has made 13 starts at the two-mile track, posting one win (2021), four top fives and six top 10s. His average finish at Michigan is 15.231 — 10th best among active drivers.
Outside Looking In: Harvick circles Michigan as winless streak continues
This week, Stewart-Haas Racing announced a reshuffle of their competition leadership within the organization and one driver hoping it pays dividends in their success is veteran Kevin Harvick, who sits 17th in the Playoff outlook standings 96 points back from the postseason cutline with just four races left in the regular season.
The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season wins leader (nine wins), Kevin Harvick, returns to Michigan International Speedway still riding a winless streak that dates back to Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 19, 2020 — 65 races ago.
Looking to snap his winless stretch this weekend and lock himself into the Playoffs, Harvick will be making his 42nd career start at the two-mile facility in the Irish Hills. And luckily for him, Michigan has been a bastion of success, as he leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in wins at the track with five (2010, 2018, 2019, 2020-1, 2020-2); including becoming the first driver in series history to win on back-to-back days at the same track (2020). In 41 starts at Michigan, the Bakersfield, California native has managed to put up five wins, 15 top fives and 21 top 10s. He finished 14th in the Michigan race last season.
Race to the Playoffs: Winning might be the only option soon
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season has produced 14 different winners, tied with the 2017 season for the most different winners through 22 races during the elimination-style Playoff Era (2014-2022), leaving just two spots still up for grabs on points as the series heads to Michigan International Speedway for race No. 23 of the season.
Just four races remain in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season and tensions are running high in the garage for the competitors that haven‘t secured their spot in the postseason. Currently, the final two remaining transfer Playoff spots on points are occupied by Team Penske‘s Ryan Blaney (15th, +121 points above the cutline) and Joe Gibbs Racing‘s Martin Truex Jr. (16th, +96 points above cutline).
Heading into Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, several former winners at the track will be looking to return to Victory Lane this weekend, especially those that are winless this season. Of that group, Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Kevin Harvick bolsters the most success at the two-mile track with wins in all three of NASCAR‘s national series; including the series-most among active drivers (five) in the NASCAR Cup Series. He also has a victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2003) and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2011). Harvick and Kyle Busch are the only two active drivers with wins in all three NASCAR national series at Michigan. Team Penske‘s Ryan Blaney is the only other former active Cup Series Michigan winner still looking for his first win of the season.
RFK Racing‘s Brad Keselowski (two wins) and Richard Childress Racing‘s Austin Dillon (one win) each have NASCAR Xfinity Series victories at Michigan International Speedway, and both need a win this season to get into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. In last season‘s Cup race, Keselowski finished ninth and Dillon was caught in an incident relegating him to a 36th.
23XI Racing‘s Bubba Wallace and Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Aric Almirola each have NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins at Michigan and are looking for their first wins of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. Last year, Almirola finished 17th and Wallace 19th in the Cup race.
Austin Hill to make NASCAR Cup Series debut at Michigan
Richard Childress Racing has had an action-packed few weeks winning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course over the weekend with Tyler Reddick, and then announcing this week that rising star Austin Hill will be making his NASCAR Cup Series career debut for the organization this Sunday, August 7 in the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Hill will become the 42nd different driver to make a start in the NASCAR Cup Series for Richard Childress Racing.
Prior to this weekend, Hill has been spending his 2022 season competing for a championship in the NASCAR Xfinity Series piloting the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. In 20 Xfinity Series starts this season, Hill has accumulated two wins (Daytona, Atlanta), eight top fives and 13 top 10s. He also leads the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. Hill will pull double duty this weekend competing in both series races at Michigan.
“As a kid growing up in this sport, getting the chance to run a NASCAR Cup Series car is the ultimate dream, especially with a team like Richard Childress Racing that has so much history and success,” said Hill. “I‘m so thankful that Richard Childress and everyone at RCR have so much faith in me. It will be a learning weekend, for sure, but I‘ve had success at Michigan International Speedway in the past and can‘t wait to take on the track‘s wide, sweeping corners in a NASCAR Cup Series Chevrolet.”
Austin Hill won at Michigan International Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2019.
Keselowski & Jones chasing home track success this weekend at Michigan
RFK Racing driver Brad Keselowski from Rochester Hills and Petty GMS Motorsports‘ Erik Jones from Byron are returning to the great state of Michigan this weekend to compete at their home track – Michigan International Speedway.
A total of 101 different drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Michigan, and nine of the 101 have won at least one race in a NASCAR national series. Michigan drivers have combined to win 158 NASCAR national series races, led by RFK Racing‘s Brad Keselowski, who has won a combined 75 NASCAR national series races – nearly half of the state‘s total.
Winners From Michigan:
DriverCupXfinityTruckCombinedBrad Keselowski3539175Paul Goldsmith9009Erik Jones29718Johnny Benson131418Tim Fedewa0404Butch Miller0213Tracy Leslie0101Jack Sprague012829Bob Keselowski0011Totals475952158
Next to Martin Truex Jr.‘s 31 winless starts at Michigan, Brad Keselowski has made the second-most starts among active drivers at Michigan without a trip to Victory Lane at 24. But in his 23 previous starts, he has put up seven top fives and 13 top 10s; including three runner-up finishes (2012, 2018, 2020). His average finish is 12.5 — fourth-best among active drivers.
Petty GMS Motorsports‘ Erik Jones is tied with Johnny Benson Jr. for the third-most combined NASCAR national series wins by a driver from Michigan with 18 wins each, behind only Keselowski with 75 and Jack Sprague (Spring Lake) with 29. Jones has made nine Cup Series starts at Michigan posting one top five (third in 2017). His average finish is 16.6, and he finished 18th at Michigan last season.
Michigan could be the place Kyle Larson rights the ship
The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season‘s wins leader (10 victories), Kyle Larson, rolled into Michigan International Speedway last season already with five victories under his belt, fast forward to this season and the California native heads back to the two-mile track having not celebrated a series win since Auto Club Speedway back in February. With the Playoffs looming, and the series heading to a similarly shaped two-mile track this weekend, could Michigan be the site in which Larson gets back to his winning ways?
The phenom from Elk Grove, California, Larson, is looking to build some momentum heading into the Playoffs as he continues his quest to become the first driver since Jimmie Johnson (2006-2010, 2013, 2016) to win consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championships and join Kyle Busch as the only active multi-time title holders.
Larson has made 13 NASCAR Cup Series career starts at Michigan International Speedway posting three wins (2016, 2017 sweep), six top fives and seven top 10s. Larson (2016) and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett (1991) are the only two drivers in NASCAR Cup Series history to win their first career series race at Michigan.
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Ford Motor Company goes for eighth straight win at Michigan — This weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Ford will be looking to visit Victory Lane for the eighth consecutive time in the NASCAR Cup Series at the engine manufacturers‘ home track.
Ford enters this weekend having won the last seven consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway (2018-2021) and this weekend will look to keep the streak alive — the longest consecutive streak of wins by a manufacturer at the two-mile facility.
OEMDateMichigan WinnerFordSunday, June 10, 2018Clint BowyerFordSunday, August 12, 2018Kevin HarvickFordMonday, June 10, 2019Joey LoganoFordSunday, August 11, 2019Kevin HarvickFordSaturday, August 8, 2020Kevin HarvickFordSunday, August 9, 2020Kevin HarvickFordSunday, August 22, 2021Ryan Blaney
Eight different manufacturers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan; led by Ford with 42 victories; followed by Chevrolet with 26, Mercury (12), Dodge (nine), Toyota (five), Buick (four) Pontiac (four) and Oldsmobile (two).
NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: FireKeepers Casino 400 — Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend‘s event.
Tyler Reddick vs. Denny Hamlin
The Fan Vote this week wanted to see last week‘s winner, Tyler Reddick, matched up against Denny Hamlin. Both are winless in the last five races at Michigan, but Joe Gibbs Racing‘s Denny Hamlin finished in the top-five in three of his last four starts at the two-mile track. Hamlin was competing for the win last year at Michigan, but ultimately finished fifth. Reddick was running in the top 10 all day, but got loose late and spun out, finishing 29th. Hamlin may have the edge on paper in this matchup, but Reddick has been outrunning his odds all year.
Ryan Blaney vs. William Byron
Who can forget the battle these two put on last year at Michigan? Ryan Blaney held off multiple runs from William Byron with perfectly timed blocks and beat Byron by half a car length to the finish line to win the 2021 FireKeepers Casino 400. Blaney and Byron are two of the better full throttle drivers in the Cup Series, which is perfect for a track like Michigan where drivers will rarely brake. Both of these wheelmen will be looking forward to Michigan as a potential spot to grab a much-needed victory.
Kevin Harvick vs. Joey Logano
Winners of four of the last five races at Michigan, this is a track that Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano both love. They also hold the two of the three best driver ratings in the field, with Harvick at 122.9 and Logano at 105.2. It‘s safe to say that both of these Fords will be threats to win on Sunday.
Daniel Suarez vs. Bubba Wallace
Daniel Suarez and Bubba Wallace are both having the best years of their careers. Suarez got his first career win at Sonoma earlier this season, while Bubba has had three top fives this year, the most in his career. Following a fifth-place finish at Indianapolis, Wallace has garnered tons of momentum as the regular season winds down. Both of these teams deliver cars that perform well at higher downforce tracks, so Michigan should be a promising opportunity for both 23XI and Trackhouse.
Keselowski to visit National All-Doman Warfighting Center during Northern Strike Exercise – Ahead of next week‘s race weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Michigan native and 2012 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski will make a special visit to the National All-Doman Warfighting Center during the Michigan National Guard‘s signature exercise, Northern Strike 22.
Keselowski will meet with Soldiers and Airmen participating in Northern Strike, the National Guard‘s largest joint, reserve component exercise held annually at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center, which includes Camp Grayling and Alpena Combat Readiness Center.
Michigan State Coaches Tom Izzo and Mel Tucker to Serve as Co-Grand Marshals on Sunday – Michigan International Speedway announced in July that Michigan State University Men‘s Basketball Head Coach Tom Izzo and Football Head Coach Mel Tucker will serve as co-Grand Marshals for the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 on August 7.
As part of their responsibilities, the Spartan coaches will give the command “Drivers, Start Your Engines” to kick off the 200-lap race, the biggest of the year at MIS. The FireKeepers Casino 400 starts at 3 p.m. ET and will air on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“I‘m excited to serve as a co-Grand Marshal for the FireKeepers Casino 400 alongside my good friend and colleague Mel Tucker,” Izzo said. “Getting the chance to be a part of a NASCAR event was a thrill for me in 2010 and it was great to get the first-hand experience of seeing some of the best in their profession up close. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to represent Michigan State Athletics and our great University at a NASCAR event and in one of auto racing‘s premier facilities at Michigan International Speedway. A special thank you goes to Aaron Zeigler for showing his Spartan Pride with the Michigan State University/Zeigler Automotive Chevrolet.”
“I want to thank the Michigan International Speedway for the opportunity to be the co-Grand Marshal of the FireKeepers Casino 400, along with Coach Izzo,” Tucker said. “I also want to thank Aaron Zeigler and his partnership with Michigan State Athletics. He has a relentless mindset, and this is an innovative way to represent MSU. I‘m looking forward to seeing the Michigan State University/Zeigler Automotive Chevrolet car in person and in front of thousands of fans at Michigan International Speedway.”
The duo will be guests of Zeigler Auto Group, an anchor sponsor of Josh Bilicki‘s Spire Motorsports Chevrolet. In addition, Bilicki‘s No. 77 Michigan State University/Zeigler Automotive Chevrolet will feature a special Michigan State paint scheme.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
For AJ Allmendinger, dreams do come true
When asked what Indianapolis Motor Speedway means to A.J. Allmendinger he responded, “There is no bigger track for me.” Then it should be no surprise that it was a dream come true for the road course ace to win for the second year-in-a-row at the one facility that is so dear to his heart.
Kaulig Racing‘s AJ Allmendinger raised his level of performance to meet the occasion last weekend when he won the pole for the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard and went on to dominate the closing laps of the race to win by 2.084-seconds over second-place Alex Bowman.
Although that was his first NASCAR Xfinity Series win at the track, he was no stranger to kissing the bricks. In last season‘s Cup Series race at Indianapolis, he shocked the premier series by racing his way to the finish line to claim his first career win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was also Kaulig Racing‘s first Cup win.
Allmendinger seems to have a knack for road courses as all three of his wins this season have been on road courses (COTA, Portland, Indianapolis) and he currently sits as the all-time road course wins leader in the Xfinity Series with nine victories.
The No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet driver has posted at least one win on all Xfinity Series road courses on the circuit except for one — Watkins Glen International. But he just might check it off his list when the Xfinity Series heads to “The Glen” on August 20 as he has posted a runner-up finish in two out of his three starts at the track.
With three wins, nine top fives and 17 top 10s this season thus far, Allmendinger is definitely keeping his eye on the Regular Season Championship. He currently leads the standings with 789 points, up 17 points from JR Motorsports‘ Justin Allgaier in second place and up 30 points from Ty Gibbs in third.
To keep his lead, he‘ll have to bring the heat to the remaining tracks on the regular season schedule — Michigan, Watkins Glen, Daytona, Darlington, Kansas and Bristol.
Here‘s a look at how he‘s done on the tracks that make up the rest of the regular season:
Michigan — Posted a win in his only Xfinity Series start at the track (2021)
Watkins Glen — Two runner-up finishes (2018, 2021) in three starts
Daytona — Three top fives and three top 10s in five starts. He finished runner-up there in February
Darlington — Has posted one top 10 (2022) in three Xfinity Series starts
Kansas — One top five and one top 10 in two starts
Bristol – One win (2021), one top five and two top 10s in two starts
Back on the oval in the Michigan Irish Hills
The NASCAR Xfinity Series had some fun making left and right turns last weekend but will now switch gears to race on Michigan International Speedway‘s two-mile oval for the New Holland 250 on Saturday, August 6 at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR radio.
Michigan International Speedway has produced 21 race winners and 22 pole winners in 29 Xfinity Series races. Of the 29 Xfinity events, only three races have been won from the pole or first starting position (Brad Keselowski — 2010, Carl Edwards — 2008, Jeff Burton — 1998).
Eight different drivers are tied for most wins at the track with two victories each – Todd Bodine (1992, 2000), Kyle Busch (2004, 2015), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1999, 2006), Denny Hamlin (2007, 2017), Carl Edwards (2008, 2011), Brad Keselowski (2009, 2010), Mark Martin (1993, 1995) and Ryan Newman (2001, 2005). Of the 21 former winners at Michigan International Speedway, only one is entered in this weekend‘s New Holland 250 — AJ Allmendinger (2021).
Michigan International Speedway is a place of firsts for a few drivers — Ryan Newman (2001) and Daniel Suarez (2016) each posted their first win at the track while Derrike Cope (1994), Kasey Kahne (2003) and Austin Dillon (2012) each won their first pole.
The drivers will jump start the weekend on Saturday with practice at 9:05 a.m. ET followed by qualifying at 9:35 a.m. ET streamed on the NBC Sports App.
Michigan winners streak
Michigan International Speedway is currently riding a wave of different winners in the NASCAR Xfinity Series that has reached 11 different winners and dates back to 2010. This weekend, the New Holland 250 has the chance to produce a 12th different winner and keep the streak going. Only one former winner is entered in this weekend‘s Xfinity Series race in hopes of becoming the first repeat winner in 11 races and defend his 2021 victory, A.J. Allmendinger.
The streak of different winners began in 2010 with Brad Keselowski, then Carl Edwards (2011), Joey Logano (2012), Regan Smith (2013), Paul Menard (2014), Kyle Busch (2015), Daniel Suarez (2016), Denny Hamlin (2017), Austin Dillon (2018), Tyler Reddick (2019) and AJ Allmendinger (2021). The series did not compete at Michigan in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Although Allmendinger is the only driver entered in this weekend‘s New Holland 250 with a win, there are a few drivers that may bring the heat to keep the streak alive.
In JR Motorsports‘ Noah Gragson‘s two starts at the two-mile Michigan track, he‘s posted a runner-up finish (2019) and third-place finish (2021). This season, he‘s already posted three wins and has brought his A-game on superspeedways, finishing third in Daytona and posting a win at Talladega. Perhaps win number four will come this weekend at Michigan.
JRM teammate Justin Allgaier has given the track a go 10 times, posting two top fives and six top 10s. He‘s had a standout season thus far, already with three wins, nine top fives and 14 top 10s. With the experience he has on the track, he‘ll look to use it to his advantage to pull off his fourth win of the season and the 20th of his Xfinity Series career.
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
RCR‘s Austin Hill to make Cup Series debut — NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie Austin Hill will be making his Cup Series debut this weekend at Michigan International Speedway in a third Richard Childress Racing entry. He will be behind the wheel of the No. 33 Chevrolet.
“Austin Hill has shown talent in every series he‘s raced in during his career, so I couldn‘t be more excited to have him behind the wheel of a Cup Series car,” said Richard Childress. “He‘s having a strong season in the Xfinity Series, and I know he will be just as competitive and eager to learn behind the wheel of a Cup Series car.”
Hill will become the eighth different driver to make their NASCAR Cup Series career debut this season; joining Todd Gilliland (Daytona), Noah Gragson (Daytona), Loris Hezemans (COTA), Josh Williams (Bristol Dirt), Zane Smith (Gateway), Ty Gibbs (Pocono) and Daniil Kvyat (Indianapolis RC).
Ty Gibbs to make third Cup Series start at Michigan — Nineteen-year-old Ty Gibbs was called up to fill in for Kurt Busch in his No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota following an incident during Busch Light Pole Qualifying at Pocono Raceway. Although his only prior experience in a Cup Series car was on a simulator, he pulled off a 16th-place finish.
After Busch was not cleared to run in last weekend‘s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, Gibbs was once again asked to get behind the wheel of Busch‘s No. 45 Toyota for the race and he seemed a little more comfortable this time around racing his way up to a 17th-place finish after starting in the 26th position.
Now, Gibbs will have to run double duty this weekend and get into the No. 45 Toyota for a third time as Busch has still not been cleared to get behind the wheel. Busch released the following statement via social media:
“While I am continuing to make improvements every day and can‘t wait to get back in the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD, I have yet to be cleared to return to competition and will not be participating in the NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. I know Ty (Gibbs) will continue to do a great job representing 23XI and the No. 45 Monster Energy team this weekend in Michigan. I am working hard to get back to 100% and it‘s my hope to be back in the car at Richmond Raceway. Thanks to everyone for the continued support and I look forward to being back on track soon.”
Gibbs has posted one Xfinity Series start at Michigan International Speedway (2021) and finished 13th.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
GMS Racing‘s Grant Enfinger jumps out front with victory in Playoff opener
Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park‘s first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in 11 years did not disappoint. Tasked with opening the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, the 0.686-mile flat paved track located just outside Indianapolis, Indiana produced some stellar side-by-side racing that went into overtime ultimately naming Grant Enfinger of GMS Racing the victor. Enfinger, winless on the season before Friday‘s race, grabbed the impressive victory along with a spot in the next round of the Playoffs. The win last weekend at Indianapolis was Enfinger‘s seventh career victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and his third Playoff win of his career (Las Vegas in 2018 and Martinsville in 2020).
Now, the Fairhope, Alabama native will look to carry this postseason momentum to Richmond Raceway where he can focus on racking up Playoff points as he is the only driver currently locked into the Round of 8.
With Enfinger being the only Playoff driver for GMS Racing this season, he will also look to keep their Championship 4 Round streak alive, as they have had at least one driver earn a spot in the Championship 4 in each of the last seven seasons since the current Playoff format was introduced in 2016.
Playoffs have busted wide open after just one race
GMS Racing‘s Grant Enfinger entered last weekend‘s Playoff opener as the ninth seed and now, on the heels of his big win last weekend at Indianapolis, finds himself as the only driver that has clinched a spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs Round of 8. With the Playoff standings shuffled like a deck of cards, nine other drivers are still vying to secure their spot in the next round of the Playoffs as the series prepares for Richmond Raceway‘s Worldwide Express 250 for Carrier Appreciation on Saturday, August 13 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The favorite to join Enfinger in the next round in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs has to be 2022 Regular Season Champion, Zane Smith. Coming into the Playoffs as the No. 1 seed and Regular Season Champion, the driver of the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford brought with him 37 Playoff points, and after his third-place finish at Indianapolis, he is the first driver without a win in the Playoff outlook standings, up +50 points on Round of 8 cutline (2,079 points).
Finishing runner-up to Enfinger at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park was ThorSport Racing‘s Ben Rhodes. The 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion looks poised to go after his second title this season carrying 2,065 points into Richmond next weekend. Rhodes sits third in the Playoff outlook, +36 points above the cutline and just 14 back from Zane Smith in the Playoff point standings lead.
Halmar Friesen Racing‘s Stewart Friesen is currently fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff outlook standings following his fourth-place finish at Indianapolis, up +28 points on the Round of 8 cutline. Friesen has earned a spot in the Playoffs three times in his career and in all three appearances he advanced to the Round of 8 (2018, 2019, 2021).
Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates John Hunter Nemechek and Chandler Smith are tied the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs standings following Indianapolis, but Nemechek holds the tie breaker of best finish in the with his 10th-place run last weekend to Smith‘s 18th. Both drivers are currently 24 points up on the Round of 8 cutline.
The two drivers currently occupying the last two spots that would move them forward to the Round of 8 are Ty Majeski and Carson Hocevar. Majeski had a very well-rounded run at Indianapolis, which involved a stage win and an eighth-place outing. Hocevar, while running up near the front for most of the night, had a late incident with the No. 91 truck of Colby Howard that relegated him to 21st-place finish. Majeski heads into Richmond next week up +19 points above the Round of 8 cutline. Niece Motorsport‘s driver Carson Hocevar only has a seven-point lead on ninth in the Playoff outlook standings, but what should be making the young driver even more nervous is with two races to go, if one of the drivers below him in the Playoff standings were to win, he would be bounced below the cutline being in the final transfer spot on points.
Outside Looking In: ThorSport Racing teammates Crafton, Eckes need to bounce back
Following Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, ThorSport Racing teammates Matt Crafton and Christian Eckes find themselves below the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Round of 8 cutline with just two races left to turn their postseason runs around.
Last weekend, three-time series champion Matt Crafton rallied to a ninth-place finish at Indianapolis and left the 0.686-mile track just seven points back from the Round of 8 cutline. Crafton is the only driver in series history to participate in each of the series‘ Playoffs since its inception in 2016 and has earned a spot in the Round 8 in all six previous postseason appearances.
Unlike the extensive Playoff experience Crafton has, his teammate Christian Eckes is just in his second appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs and is hoping to build on his postseason debut in 2020 where he was eliminated in the Round of 10. Eckes finished 16th at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and has the same points total as Crafton at 2,029. Eckes is currently seven points behind Carson Hocevar in the eighth and final transfer spot to the Round of 8 on points.
Playoff Clinch Scenarios: Looking Ahead to Richmond
With one of the three races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs in the books, here is a look at the clinch scenarios for the 10-driver field in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs:
The following driver has clinched a spot in the 8-driver field of the next round of the Playoffs: Grant Enfinger.
Can Clinch via Points
If there is a repeat winner (Enfinger) or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the seventh winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, Stewart Friesen, John Hunter Nemechek, Chandler Smith or Ty Majeski.
Zane Smith: Could only clinch with helpBen Rhodes: Could only clinch with helpStewart Friesen: Could only clinch with helpJohn Hunter Nemechek: Could only clinch with helpChandler Smith: Could only clinch with helpTy Majeski: Could only clinch with help
If there is a new winner from Carson Hocevar or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the sixth winless driver in the standings.
Zane Smith: Could only clinch with helpBen Rhodes: Could only clinch with helpStewart Friesen: Could only clinch with helpJohn Hunter Nemechek: Could only clinch with helpChandler Smith: Could only clinch with help
Can Clinch via Win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, Stewart Friesen, John Hunter Nemechek, Chandler Smith, Ty Majeski, Carson Hocevar, Matt Crafton, and Christian Eckes.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.
Camping World Truck Series Owners Playoffs Update — None of the current trucks in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owners Playoffs won last weekend at Indianapolis, therefore the Front Row Motorsport‘s No. 38 Ford leads the postseason standings by 14 points over ThorSport Racing‘s No. 99 Toyota and up 50 points over the Round of 8 cutline.
At the other end of the standings along the Round of 8 cutline sits Niece Motorsport‘s No. 42 Chevrolet in the eighth and final transfer spot on points, up seven points over ThorSport Racing‘s No. 98 team in ninth and 12 points up on Team DGR‘s No. 17 Ford.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year update — Kyle Busch Motorsport‘s Corey Heim posted a fifth-place finish this past weekend at Indianapolis and in the process opened up his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year point standings lead over second place Lawless Alan by 62 points.
Heim, for most of the season was running a part-time schedule but has announced he will be in the No. 51 truck for the rest of the season in pursuit of the rookie of the year honors and the owners championship.
— NASCAR —