The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolled a routine convoy of colorful haulers into the traditional home of the automotive industry in Michigan.
The NSCS competition will be on the two-mile D-shaped oval with 18-degree banking at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, but manufacturer bragging-rights will echo throughout the Detroit area.
Ford Racing has captured the most wins with 36 visits to the victory lane since MIS opened on June 15, 1969. Chevy Racing has accumulated 20 wins, while Toyota Racing has managed four wins since arriving to the NSCS series in 2007.
The edge, for some reason, belongs to Ford as the sanction returns to the fast track on Sunday, Aug. 18. The last two MIS races have been won by Greg Biffle in his Ford Fusion and many look to him as factor this weekend.
Carl Edwards has been at the top—near the No. 48 wonder team of Jimmie Johnson—nearly all season and carries that momentum coming to MIS.
Both he and Biffle would relish another win right now.
Other Ford drivers want to win as well. Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Rickly Stenhouse Jr. and Marcos Ambrose are not close enough to called contenders, but a pair of wins could change that. Brad Keselowski is in eighth position right now and even one win could put him in the Chase for the Sprint Cup if he continues to have top finishes.
Comments from NSCS drivers going into almost all races tend to be upbeat, positive and hopeful. But perhaps some words from the Ford drivers might give an indication if the motor company racing effort has peak momentum going into MIS.
Biffle can’t hide his enthusiasm.
“I’m looking forward to Michigan,” Biffle said. “It would be three in a row if I can pull off another win. I feel one more win would lock us into the Chase. Michigan is one of my favorite tracks; it’s a big fast place and has lots of room to race.”
Edwards hasn’t been as vocal this year after performing well, but he seems ready.
“We’ve got two wins there,” Edwards said. “We got our 1000th NASCAR win for Ford there with Greg Biffle. I love racing there and hopefully we can bring in another victory for Ford.”
Keselowski is the reigning NSCS champion. Missing the Chase would be painful for him and team.
“Repaved tracks have not been our strong suit,” Keselowski said. “But we’re confident that we can at least get a solid finish like we did in the spring there. I see no reason why we can’t maintain our position in the points, if not improve.”
Logano is aware of the late-season pressure.
“The time to try and make something happen is getting smaller and smaller," Logano said. “We need to put a good finish on these strong runs. I feel I’m really good at a couple of tracks, including Michigan. So we will just go out there and do our thing.”
Almirola understands the math of 18th place in the points.
“We probably need to get a least two wins," Almirola said. “Michigan is a good place, since we have run so strong there.”
Winning at MIS is special for a manufacturer. It resonates all week in the city that has had more than its share of hardship in modern times. Bragging rights will lead to outbursts of winning glee for the fortunate manufacturer. That won’t stop for a while in Michigan restaurants, golf courses or even retail stores where various automotive employees and executives meet routinely.
All teams backed by Ford Racing, Team Chevy and Toyota Racing are aware of the urgency of wins and top finishes right now.
Top speed will mean more at MIS as only four races remain before the Chase contenders are determined. Some drivers have to win to get in. Others have to finish strong if they hope to cling to their lofty spot and be ready for 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs.
A lot more is at stake than bragging rights, but the manufacturer that gets the checkered flag at MIS will enjoy a little swagger, if only briefly.
Fans without tickets to one of the 85,000 seats overlooking the D-shaped oval at MIS can enjoy the action on ESPN at 1 p.m ET.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.