Pure Michigan 400 Betting News and Notes

Pure Michigan 400 Betting News and Notes

Michigan International Speedway Data

Season Race #: 23 of 36 (08-17-14)
Track Size: 2-miles
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 18 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 18 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 2 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 3,600 feet
Backstretch Length: 2,242 feet
Race Length: 200 laps / 400 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Michigan

Greg Biffle 107.8
Matt Kenseth 104.5
Jimmie Johnson 102.9
Carl Edwards 102.2
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 97.5
Tony Stewart 95.8
Jeff Gordon 91.2
Kyle Busch 91.1
Kurt Busch 90.0
Kyle Larson 89.7

Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Michigan International Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data

2013 pole winner:
Joey Logano, Ford
203.949 mph, 35.303 secs. 08-16-13

2013 race winner
:
Joey Logano, Ford
144.593 mph, (02:45:59), 08-18-13

Track qualifying record:
Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
204.557 mph, 35.198 secs. 06-13-14

Track race record:
Dale Jarrett, Ford
173.997 mph, (2:17:56), 06-13-99

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Re: Pure Michigan 400 Betting News and Notes

Michigan Driver Tale of the Tape


Greg Biffle (No. 16 Roush Performance Ford)


· Four wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.6
· Series-best Average Running Position of 8.9
· Series-best Driver Rating of 107.8
· 311 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Series-high 3,085 Laps in the Top 15 (82.5%)
· Series-high 864 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green)

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)

· Two wins, four top fives, nine top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 20.9
· Driver Rating of 90.0, ninth-best
· 175 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 2,350 Laps in the Top 15 (62.9%), ninth-most
· 597 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)

· One win, four top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 17.8
· Average Running Position of 14.8, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 91.1, eighth-best
· 139 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 2,464 Laps in the Top 15 (65.9%), seventh-most
· 685 Quality Passes, eighth-most


Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)

· Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 16.0
· Average Running Position of 12.6, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 97.5, fifth-best
· 189 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,435 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 177.819 mph, sixth-fastest
· 2,513 Laps in the Top 15 (67.2%), sixth-most
· 786 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Kellogg’s / Cheez-It Ford)

· Two wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 9.1
· Average Running Position of 10.9, third-best
· Driver Rating of 102.2, fourth-best
· 198 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 1,348 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 178.038 mph, fifth-fastest
· 2,925 Laps in the Top 15 (78.2%), third-most
· 850 Quality Passes, second-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)

· Two wins, 18 top fives, 26 top 10s; five poles
· Average finish of 12.3
· Average Running Position of 14.1, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.2, seventh-best
· 184 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 2,351 Laps in the Top 15 (62.9%), eighth-most
· 637 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)

· One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.4
· Average Running Position of 14.8, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 88.7, 12th-best
· 138 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 1,516 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· 1,966 Laps in the Top 15 (52.6%), 11th-most


Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's / Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet)

· One win, five top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 16.2
· Average Running Position of 11.2, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 102.9, third-best
· Series-high 389 Fastest Laps Run
· Average Green Flag Speed of 178.387 mph, second-fastest
· 2,772 Laps in the Top 15 (74.1%), fourth-most
· 731 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet)

· One win, eight top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 15.9
· Driver Rating of 89.1, 11th-best
· 174 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 1,447 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 177.658 mph, seventh-fastest
· 696 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)

· Two wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s
· Average finish of 9.8
· Average Running Position of 10.2, second-best
· Driver Rating of 104.5, second-best
· 164 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 1,315 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 178.146 mph, fourth-fastest
· 2,989 Laps in the Top 15 (79.9%), second-most
· 833 Quality Passes, third-most

Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet)

· One top 10
· Average finish of 8.0
· Average Running Position of 13.6, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 89.7, 10th-best
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 178.478 mph

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet)

· One win, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s
· Average finish of 11.7
· Average Running Position of 12.6, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.8, sixth-best
· 104 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 177.587 mph, eighth-fastest
· 2,610 Laps in the Top 15 (73.7%), fifth-most
· 735 Quality Passes, fifth-most

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Re: Pure Michigan 400 Betting News and Notes

Desperate Kahne capable of taking checkers at Michigan
By: Micah Roberts   
Sportingnews.com

LAS VEGAS -- In June, Jimmie Johnson won at Michigan International Speedway for his first-ever victory at the track. It was his 25th start there, by far the most attempts at any venue in the Cup series without a win. Now there are only four tracks remaining on the circuit that Johnson has yet to conquer.

In that June race, Johnson came in as the 7-to-1 co-favorite. Since he finally got the Michigan monkey off his back, Johnson opened at the LVH SuperBook as the 5-to-1 favorite to win this week's Pure Michigan 400.

Michigan native Brad Keselowski is the co-second choice at 6-to-1 odds. His best career finish on the 2-mile, wide-open D-shaped oval was second-place in 2012, and he finished third there in June.

Michigan NASCAR races always have a little extra sizzle because of the manufacturer executives from nearby Detroit who come to watch their brands win. The all-time scoreboard reads Ford with a 34-21 advantage over Chevy, but in the June race, it was the guys in bow-ties doing the high-fiving.

Seven of the first eight finishers were in Chevrolets, with Keselowski’s Penske Ford the only outsider to crash the party. His teammate, Joey Logano – who won this race last season – finished ninth.

The most disappointed of all from that race had to be Jack Roush, whose cars didn’t fare well on his home track. Roush-Fenway Racing has 13 wins at Michigan, but the best his team could do in June was a 20th-place finish out of four-time winner Greg Biffle and a 23rd from two-time winner Carl Edwards.

Don’t expect much to change this week. We know what teams have generated the most horsepower this season, and it’s been just about any team running the Hendrick Chevy engines, which include Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing and Stewart-Haas Motorsports. All four Hendrick drivers finished seventh or better in the June race. The Penske Fords have been just as good, but there are only two of them compared to the Chevy masses. The best Joe Gibbs Racing finisher was Matt Kenseth in 14th.

When Kevin Harvick won his second race of the season, at Darlington in early April, it looked as though he was going to be the driver to beat every week – and to a degree he still is – but he hasn’t won since then. However, he has been the master bridesmaid with five second-place finishes, including the June race at Michigan. In fact, he’s finished second at Michigan in three consecutive races. He won this race in 2010 and is listed at 6-to-1 odds this week.

Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Gordon comes in next at 7-to-1. Surprisingly, he has only two wins in 43 career starts at Michigan, the last coming in 2001, when he beat Ricky Rudd by 0.085 of a second, which remains the closest margin of finish in track history. Harvick has a long way to go to catch Gordon’s track record of eight second-place finishes. Gordon has also led 990 laps at Michigan, the most among active drivers, including his 36 laps led in June when he finished sixth.

Prior to this season, Michigan was the only venue at which Dale Earnhardt Jr. had won for Hendrick Motorsports, finishing first in 2008 and again in 2012. Now he’s got three wins on the season and looks like one of the favorites to win the Sprint Cup. He finished seventh in June and is listed at 8-to-1 odds to win this week.

Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne are both listed at 10-to-1 odds. Kahne’s objective, with four races to go before the Chase starts, is to claim one of the four remaining spots in the field. He currently sits 18th in points, 12-points behind Clint Bowyer, who occupies the 16th and final position. It’s a close enough margin to race for points and hope for the best, but if one of the winless top-30 drivers wins a race, Kahne’s chances of getting in on points dwindles with each race.

Kahne is one of the many desperate drivers this week trying to get a win, but outside of rookie Kyle Larson, he is way more capable of winning on Sunday than any of the others. Matt Kenseth (13th in Chase standings) has been consistent, but hasn’t been fast enough to capture a win. Ryan Newman (14th) has only two top fives on the year, and Clint Bowyer (16th) has three top fives but doesn’t look close to visiting victory lane any time soon.

Then you have drivers, like Kahne, on the outside looking in, such as Biffle, Austin Dillon, Brian Vickers and Paul Menard, who appear to need rain or irregular pit cycles to win over the next four races. Kahne, the 2006 Michigan winner, looks to have enough urgency mixed in with horsepower to make him a solid selection to win this week.

As for Larson, this kid just continues to impress each week. He’s finished 11th or better in his last four starts overall and was eighth at Michigan in June. And for whatever it’s worth, he was second on Michigan’s 2-mile sister track at Fontana in March. Larson is 18-to-1 this week.

Tony Stewart is listed at 15-to-1, but there is uncertainty about whether or not he’ll drive this week. If he doesn’t race, the driver of his No. 14 ride – maybe Regan Smith, who is racing Saturday at Mid-Ohio in the Nationwide series – will be part of the betting 'field' at 75-to-1.

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Pure Michigan 400 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

Only four races remain until the 16-driver field is set for the new Sprint Cup Chase playoff format and four spots are still open for any driver to gain by simply winning a race as long as their within the top-30 in points.

Last weeks winner at Watkins Glen, A.J. Allmendinger, currently sits 24th in points and wouldn’t be in the Chase under the old format, but is now one of the 12 guaranteed a spot because the new format rewards wins. Aric Almirola is 22nd in points, but he also gets into the Chase because of winning at Daytona. I can’t imagine anyone going on record before the season started saying both of those drivers would be participants in this year's Chase.

The biggest surprise among the non-winners so far has been Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne. Kenseth led the series with seven wins last season, but even if he doesn’t win within the next four, it’s probable he’ll make the Chase just because of points where he leads all non-winners by a large margin.

Kahne doesn’t have that luxury. He has to go all out for wins but also be mindful that he’s 12 points from the current 16th-place diver, Clint Bowyer. These next four tracks at Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond are all good tracks for him. Win and you're in, which also makes drivers further down like Jamie McMurray and Brian Vickers dangerous. The more new drivers that win in these next four races, the less points mean to drivers like Kahne.

Kahne might be able to do some damage this week on Michigan's 2-mile layout, a place he ran fifth at June. His teammate Jimmie Johnson won that race, which was the first win there of his career. Kahne won there in 2006 and finished seventh in this race last season. Despite all his inconsistencies this season, Kahne is a live play Sunday at about 12/1 odds.

In that June race, Kevin Harvick led the most laps with 63 and finished second, followed by Michigan native Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard. Harvick has actually finished second the past three events at Michigan.

Jeff Gordon was sixth in June and has led 990 laps over 43 career starts, but like Johnson, Michigan wins have been difficult. He has only two wins there, the last coming in 2001. However, he's been consistent enough to take a long look at him to win, but his odds are low in the 7/1 range, which doesn't make him attractive.

Two-time Michigan winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was seventh in June meaning that all four of the Hendrick Motorsports cars have this track figured out. Junior's only two wins for Hendrick Motorsports prior to 2014 came at Michigan.

Joey Logano won this race last season and Greg Biffle won the previous two events. Biffle currently sits 17th in points, just ahead of Kahne outside looking in. This has been a good track for Roush-Racing (track record 13 wins) over the years, but they don't look to have the power to compete with Hendrick engines in 2014.

The only two cars capable of winning other than a Chevy this week look to the two Penske Fords. They'll have a lot of Chevy's to go through to get the win, just like in the June race. The desperation of Kahne and his odds are a great look this week.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #5 Kasey Kahne (12/1)
2) #4 Kevin Harvick (8/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)
4) #2 Brad Keselowski (8/1)
5) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10/1)

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Chassis Selections
Jayski.com

#1-Jamie McMurray: chassis not reported on race preview.
#2-Brad Keselowski: Primary Chassis: PRS-914. Last Raced: Dover (finished 2nd). Backup Chassis: PRS-853. Last Raced: Loudon backup (not raced)
#3-Austin Dillon: will pilot Chassis No. 481 in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. This is the same Chevrolet SS that Dillon raced to a 10th-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July.
#5-Kasey Kahne:Crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-888 for Sunday's race at Michigan. Kahne drove this chassis to a sixth-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July and most recently raced it at Pocono Raceway earlier this month, where he started 12th and finished 10th.
#7-Michael Annett: chassis not reported on race preview.
#9-Marcos Ambrose: chassis not reported on race preview.
#15-Clint Bowyer: Chassis No. 813 serves as the primary chassis for Bowyer at Michigan. This chassis raced at Michigan in June where Bowyer finished 10th and Charlotte in May where he finished 17th. Chassis No. 804 serves as the back-up chassis and finished 12th at Darlington and 15th at Bristol earlier this year.
#16-Greg Biffle: Primary Chassis: RK-908 Last ran Michigan - finished 20th. Backup Chassis :RK-879 Last ran Las Vegas - finished 22nd.
#17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Primary Chassis: RK- 902 - last raced at Pocono- finished 15th. Backup Chassis: RK- 877 - last raced at Loudon - finished ninth.
#18-Kyle Busch: chassis not reported on race preview.
#20-Matt Kenseth: chassis not reported on race preview.
#22-Joey Logano: Primary Chassis: PRS-913. Last Raced    Dover (finished 8th). Backup Chassis: PRS-844. Last Raced:    Kentucky backup (not raced).
#24-Jeff Gordon: Crew chief Alan Gustafson has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-895 for this Sunday's race. This chassis has been raced once with Gordon securing a record-breaking fifth Brickyard 400 victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July.
#27-Paul Menard: will pilot chassis No. 480 in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. This No. 27 Chevrolet SS was utilized earlier this year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the Richard Childress Racing team started 29th and finished in the 34th position due to an on-track incident.
#31-Ryan Newman: will drive chassis No. 479 in Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. This chassis was utilized earlier this season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where Newman qualified fourth and finished 11th.
#34-David Regan: chassis not reported on race preview.
#38-David Gilliland: chassis not reported on race preview.
#42-Kyle Larson: chassis not reported on race preview.
#43-Aric Almirola: chassis not reported on race preview.
#48-Jimmie Johnson: Crew chief Chad Knaus has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-891 for this weekend's event. This chassis is the same Chevy SS Johnson finished 14th with at Indianapolis last month. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-799, which last saw on-track action at Kansas in May.
#51-Justin Allgaier: chassis not reported on race preview.
#55-Brian Vickers: Primary: 808 finished 26th at Darlington and 42nd at Michigan on June 15. Backup: 801 finished 13th at Las Vegas.
#78-Martin Truex Jr.: chassis not reported on race preview.
#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 crew will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-877. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to a fifth-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in June.
#99-Carl Edwards: Primary chassis RK-927 is a new chassis. Backup chassis RK-904 was last brought to Pocono in 2014 as the back-up car.

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Re: Pure Michigan 400 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Michigan
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Racingone.com

MRN.com's detailed notes and statistics to help you set your fantasy racing lineup for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Who's HOT at Michigan

• Kevin Harvick has finished second in the last three races and led the most laps (63) in June.
• Clint Bowyer is the only driver that has finished in the top 10 in the last seven races.
• Jimmie Johnson won the June race for his first win at the track.
• Greg Biffle leads all drivers with four wins.
• Joey Logano has led 101 laps and posted an average finish of 6.3 in his three track starts with Team Penske.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. has posted three top 10s, including a win, in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced.
• Brad Keselowski (8.4) and Paul Menard (10.6) each rank in the top five in average finish in the last five races.

Who to Keep an Eye On at Michigan

• Kyle Larson finished eighth in June at Michigan and leads all drivers with a 5.0 average in the two races this season at 2-mile tracks.
• Matt Kenseth (11.0), Carl Edwards (11.6), Marcos Ambrose (13.6), Ryan Newman (13.8) and Martin Truex Jr. (15.6) round of the top 10 among all drivers that have competed in all five races since Michigan was resurfaced. Truex will not practice and qualify his car on Friday.
• Roush Fenway Racing tested at Michigan last month.
• Watkins Glen winner AJ Allmendinger has posted a 15.0 average finish in the two races at 2-mile speedways this season.
• Jeff Burton will drive Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet this weekend. Burton has finished in the top 10 in his last two Michigan starts.
• Kurt Busch has combined to lead 80 laps in his last three starts at Michigan.
• Marcos Ambrose has finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the last two August Michigan races..
• Denny Hamlin does have two wins at Michigan, but will be looking to turn around his record at the track since it's been resurfaced. Hamlin's teammate Kyle Busch has one top 10 in the last five Michigan races, but did win at Auto Club this season and is third in laps led in the five races at 2-mile speedways with the Gen-6 car.

Tire Notes: Sprint Cup teams will run the same combination of left- and right-side tires they ran at Michigan in June. Jimmie Johnson won that race after leading 39 laps. Second-place finisher Kevin Harvick led the most laps with 63.

MRN.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Kasey Kahne
Pete Pistone: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dustin Long: Kyle Larson
John Singler: Greg Biffle

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by Current Standings

Dale Earnhardt Jr.:
Won the June race in 2012 for his second win in 13 Michigan starts with Hendrick Motorsports. He leads all drivers in laps led (175) in the five races since the track was resurfaced. Earnhardt participated in the Goodyear Tire test before the June race and will return in the same car (chassis No. 877) that he finished fifth with at Kentucky Speedway.

Jeff Gordon: Coming off 26th top 10 in 42 starts with a sixth-place finish. An engine issue and an accident gave Gordon and average finish of 28.0 in the previous three races. He is a two-time Michigan winner, with his last coming in the 2001 June. This weekend, Gordon will return in the same car (chassis No. 895) that he scored the win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with.

Matt Kenseth: Last top 10 (sixth) came in his first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing in the 2013 June race. Kenseth holds an 11.0 average finish among all drivers in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced. His is also second in average finish (9.2) among drivers that have raced in all five races on 2-mile speedways with the Gen-6 car.

Brad Keselowski: Ranks fourth in average finish (8.4) among drivers that have raced in all five of the races since Michigan was resurfaced. Led 38 laps and finished 26th due to a tire failure in the race on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in March. He followed that up with a third-place run at Michigan in June. This weekend, Keselowski will return in the same car (chassis No. 914) that he finished second with at Dover International Speedway.

Joey Logano: Defending race winner. Logano has led 101 laps and posted an average finish of 6.3 in his three track starts with Team Penske last season. He ranks sixth in average finish (12.2) among drivers that have raced in all five races on 2-mile speedways with the Gen-6 car. This weekend, Logano will return in the same car (chassis No. 913) he finished eighth with at Dover International Speedway.

Carl Edwards: Ranks eighth among all drivers in average finish (11.6) since Michigan was resurfaced. Edwards' last of two wins at Michigan came in the 2008 August race. He is tied for third in average finish (11.0) among drivers that have raced in all five races on 2-mile speedways with the Gen-6 car. Edwards, who tested at Michigan, will debut a new car (chassis No. 927) in the Pure Michigan 400.

Jimmie Johnson: Coming off first win in 25 starts for his second top 10 in the five races on Michigan's new surface. Engine issues have taken Johnson out of contention in two of the last four races. Johnson did dominate at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway earlier this season, leading 104 laps, up until a blown tire with seven laps-to-go. This weekend, Johnson will return in the same car (chassis No. 891) that he finished 14th with at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kevin Harvick: Finished second in the last three races to help give him the best average finish (6.7) among all drivers in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced. Harvick also is tied for third in average finish (11.0) among drivers that have raced in all five races on 2-mile speedways with the Gen-6 car.

Ryan Newman: Only top 10 in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced came in the 2012 August race in 12th. Newman, who won earlier in his career at Michigan with Team Penske, finished 15th in his first track start with Richard Childress Racing in June. The car (chassis No. 480) Newman will drive in the Pure Michigan 400 is the same one he finished 29th with at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kyle Larson: Finished eighth in his first Cup Series track start in June. Larson also finished second at Auto Club Speedway to give him a 5.0 average finish in the two races this season at 2-mile speedways.

Clint Bowyer: Holds the distinction of being the only driver that has finished in the top 10 in the last seven Michigan races. He ranks third among all drivers in average finish (7.2) in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced. This weekend, Bowyer will return in the same car (chassis No. 813) that he finished 10th with at Michigan in June.

Greg Biffle: Is the leader in active wins (4) at Michigan and has won two of the last four races, including this event in 2012. Biffle is also second in both average finish (7.0) and laps led (140) in the five races since the speedway was resurfaced. He holds a 15.2 average finish in all four races on 2-mile speedways with the Gen-6 car. Biffle, who tested at Michigan, will return in the same car (chassis No. 908) that he finished 20th with at Michigan in June.

Kasey Kahne: Coming off third top 10 (fifth) in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced. Two crashes have raised his average finish to 17.2 in that span. Kahne does have one win at Michigan, coming in the 2006 June race with Evernham Motorsports. This weekend, Kahne will pilot the same car (chassis No. 888) that he last finished 10th with at Pocono Raceway.

Austin Dillon: 19.8 average finish in four starts at Michigan. Will return in the same car (chassis No. 481) that he finished 10th with at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch: Fourth-place finish in the 2013 June race is his only top 10 in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced. Busch, who won at Auto Club Speedway in March, ranks third in laps led (130) among drivers that have raced in all five races on 2-mile speedways with the Gen-6 car.

Marcos Ambrose: Has finished fifth and sixth, respectively in the last two August Michigan races. Ambrose scored the pole in the first race on Michigan's new surface in 2012 and has three top 10s in the five races since.

Paul Menard: Has posted a 10.6 average finish in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced. Menard ranks first in average finish (7.8) among drivers that have raced in all five races on 2-mile speedways with the Gen-6 car. This weekend, Menard will return in the same car (chassis No. 480) that he last finished 34th with at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Brian Vickers: Won the 2009 August race with Red Bull Racing. His lone start in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced came in June when he finished 42nd. This weekend, Vickers will return in the same car he raced at Michigan earlier this summer.

Jamie McMurray: Coming off best finish in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced in 12th. McMurray's last of four top 10s in 23 overall starts came in this event in 2008.

Denny Hamlin: Won the 2011 June for his second Michigan win, but has yet to finish in the top 10 in his last six starts. Hamlin's average finish in the five races since Michigan was resurfaced is 24.8. His best finish in that span came in this event in 2012 in 11th.

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Pure Michigan 400 Post-Practice Notes
By: Micah Roberts 
Sportingnews.com

LAS VEGAS -- A day after setting the track record in qualifying, Jeff Gordon came back just as strong on Saturday during final practices at Michigan International Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400. Nobody over the last two days has been as good as Gordon, who made it clear with his efforts that he's the driver to beat.

In the early session, Gordon was third fastest -- one of 33 drivers to record a lap at over 200 mph. In the final session, Gordon had the fastest lap and was the only driver to top 200 mph under much warmer conditions.

Of all the practice sessions, the final one is the most telling because the time of the day ran will be most similar to when the green flag drops Sunday. On Friday, the main concern for the team is qualifying, so most of the fast laps run are with intent of only running one or two consecutive laps. Saturday's times get you closer to race day conditions because they're all in race trim and looking for the best setup over what will be long green flag runs. By the time they run the final practice, the cream typically rises to the top.

That driver is Gordon. Beyond all his fast laps on Saturday, the thing that stands out the most is how good the No. 24 team has that car on the long runs during the final session. Among the 17 drivers that ran 10-consecutive laps or more, Gordon had the best lap average, slightly better than Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Even though Gordon hasn't won at Michigan since 2001, the overall performance by Hendrick Motorsports during the first Michigan race on June 16 is an indicator that Gordon already was one of the drivers to beat this week. Gordon finished sixth in that race among the four HMS drivers that finished seventh or better.

Gordon also has a good luck charm going for him this week. The chassis he's using won at the Brickyard in July, and while the two tracks don't necessarily correlate aside from needing lots of horsepower to power down the straights, a driver in a winning ride seems to always give the team a little extra boost of confidence.

Kevin Harvick looked to be the second best among all drivers. He's almost as good as Gordon and comes in with three straight second-place finishes at Michigan. In June, Harvick led the most laps. In 2010, he won his only race at Michigan.

The most welcomed surprise with speed on Saturday was Greg Biffle, who finished with the fifth fastest lap. Biffle, a four-time Michigan winner, had struggled in the June race with a 20th-place finish. Car owner Jack Roush has won a track record 13 times on his home track.

The most disappointing pre-race performances came from Jimmie Johnson. Apparently the winning setup from June didn't translate over as crew chief Chad Knaus couldn't find any speed Friday -- 39th in practice and 30th in qualifying. They came out better on Saturday with race setups, but didn't get into the stratosphere of Gordon or of where they were in June's final practices.

The best mid-to-longshot range driver would be Kyle Larson. We've said 'he's going to win soon' a few times this season, but Sunday could really be his day. His average speeds are up there with the best, he's been fast all season, and he's using one of the Hendrick Chevy engines. He was eighth in June, one of seven Chevy drivers to finish in the top-eight.

The only non-Chevy to crash the Michigan June party was Michigan native Brad Keselowski who appears to be the best of the Ford chances to win Sunday along with Joey Logano and Biffle.

A noticeable omission from our top-10 this week is a driver from Joe Gibbs Racing. This has been a good track over the years for JGR because they've had horsepower in the past, but not so much anymore which is a bad sign as the Chase nears.

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