I don’t think there’s one individual in NASCAR, fan…team…driver…official…not even a media member, that can say they hate Michigan. Sure, some drivers have experienced better luck than others at this place, but the fact is this place almost has the best of everything in one two-mile setup.
Let’s look at all it has to offer: first, it’s in the shadow of the Motor City. Winning here is extremely important when it comes to the manufacturers. So many representatives from the three makes come here to watch the race, hoping their brand takes a victory. That makes for a better Monday at the office, and it goes right down to those new buyers for cars and trucks, as they want to be at the wheel of a winning brand.
For the drivers, this place has everything one can ask for, and with this package, it’s going to feel a lot like Daytona, but without the sharp banking.
Michigan’s sweeping corners have given so many different lines, changing setups and handling is as easy as moving up a car-width.
This package in particular reminds me a lot of what NASCAR was doing back in 2015 where they were doing some unique in-race testing of a new rules package, one that involved a lot of drag. Like then, the leading edge of the splitter was rather obvious, and the spoiler was extremely tall. But, unlike now but similar to Talladega this past May, the cars had a wicker on the spoiler to catch a lot of air.
The turbulence these cars are creating is going to make the draft absolutely crazy at such high speeds. The downforce these cars now have is practically planting the cars into the track, so much so that side drafting like we have seen at the 1.5-mile speedways will become a main way to stop momentum.
For me, I still have a feeling Michigan is going to eventually come down to who is able to stretch it during the final stage.
This place has always been known to create a fuel mileage strategy, especially late in the going. We have seen more races won, lost, and even just lucked into, because of how much fuel was still in the cell. A few years back, both Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle saw their fuel run dry heading to the white and checkered flag, respectively, and that let a true veteran of the sport, Mark Martin, drive around and secure the victory at a place he’s always enjoyed.
With these engines, reduced horsepower, the fuel mileage hasn’t changed much, but how it’s saved certainly has. As the laps wind down, and no sight of a caution is evident, every drop of Sunoco will make a difference.
No doubt, this will be a fun day in Michigan. Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday.