Vol. 6 – Michigan – June 19, 2011
This week brings the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to Michigan, home of the International Cherry Spitting Championships held each year in Eau Claire. The event is held each 4th of July weekend where in 2003, Eight-Time Champion Brian Krause broke the North American record by spitting his cherry 93’6 1/2”.
[media-credit name=”mis.com” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Michigan is a track, if known for anything, is known for high speeds and violent wrecks. In 1984, a large wreck involving Al Unser Jr and Chip Ganassi would end Ganassi’s driving career. Ernie Irvan crashed in practice in 1994 following a right front blowout, and subsequently was given a 10% chance of survival that night. He would make a full recovery and return to racing in 1995, but five years to the date following his near fatal wreck in 95’, Irvan was airlifted from the track yet again. The wreck in practice would be the cause for Irvan’s retirement just two weeks later. MIS has improved safety as of late, and provisions have been made to help avoid the violent wrecks of the 1980’s and 90’s.
I was looking good with my picks last week early on in the race, but as we all know, anything can happen between lap one and two hundred. I had a point in the race where maximum imaginary points were on the board with Juan Montoya at the point, and Denny Hamlin in second, but that was on lap 24 of the 200 that made up the 5 Hour Energy 500. In a race that was full of pit-stops (teams averaging a pit every 28-32 laps), pit strategy became ever-so important. Montoya would gamble on two tires – three times last Sunday, a decision that netted Montoya a seventh place finish, and netting me an undisclosed amount of points in my own Pick Um’ competition. My winner pick in Denny Hamlin ran very well until a flat tire on lap 161 dropped him from the pace. He would eventually lose his breaks on top of the flat tire and bring his FedEx Toyota home in nineteenth place, netting me zero points.
Moving along quickly this week, we’re already to my Dark Horse for the week. Kasey Kahne is familiar with Victory Lane at Michigan, scoring his first and only win at the track in 2006. Along with the win, Kahne has six Top 5’s including three runner ups. Kahne has had some tough luck in the Sprint Cup Series in the past month, but this week the #4 car will put up his best finish since his fourth at Darlington Mother’s Day Weekend.
Kevin Harvick is the guy to watch Sunday Afternoon. He scored his first win of the season earlier this year at Auto Club Speedway, a track that is a twin to Michigan. He scored a win last August at Michigan, and is flying high after his cat and mouse game with Kyle Busch last week. Michigan has averaged 20.3 lead changes in the past four seasons, but look for Harvick to linger towards the Top 5 all race and make his move late in the race.
Happy Father’s Day and until next time…YOU STAY CLASSY NASCAR NATION!