Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI — August 10, 2019
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars and stars are at Michigan International Speedway this weekend. They are joined by the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. There are some interesting storylines to follow as racing starts this afternoon with the Corrigan Oil 200 for the trucks. Followed by the Consumers Energy 400 for the Cup cars on Sunday.
PJ1 Traction Compound Used for the 1st Time at Michigan
NASCAR has opted to treat the top grove at MIS with the PJ1 traction compound for this week’s racing. The substance that provides the racing surface with more grip has been met with mixed reviews at other race track.
The bottom grove of the Speedway is the preferred place to run. It’s the shortest distance around the track and since the 2019 performance package has reduced horsepower at MIS the drivers are running wide open all the way around the two-mile tri-oval.
For the most part, cars have stayed away from the top grove during practice and qualifying. The trucks are likely to experiment with it during today’s race. You can count on the compound getting some use during restarts on Sunday as everyone is looking for that advantage to gain as much track position as possible while everyone is bunched up. Will the drivers like it? Opinions see mixed. Will the fans like it? You bet.
Video Courtesy of Roy Akers / www.midwestsportsscene.com
Erik Jones Fastest in Final Practice
Byron, Michigan native Erik Jones is on a recent run of success. His streak of four consecutive races with a top 5 finish looks like it could continue at Michigan. Jones posted the fastest time in the Cup series final practice Saturday afternoon. He was also the fastest in the 5 and 10 consecutive lap timing segments.
The Last Chance for Truck Drivers to Qualify for the Playoffs
The Gander Outdoors Truck Series regular-season ends at Michigan today. Eight spots are at stake for the playoffs that begin Thursday, August 15th at Bristol. There have been 7 winners so far this year. Greg Biffle won at Texas in the only race he entered, so he is ineligible for the playoffs. Ross Chastain(45), Brett Moffit(24), Stewart Friesen(52), Austin Hill(16), Johnny Sauter(13), and Tyler Ankrum(17) all have won and are locked in.
Two spots remain for someone to qualify on points or if another 1st-time winner this year goes to victory lane at Michigan, only 1 driver will get in on points. Grant Effinger(98) sits atop of the standings and starting today essentially locks him in. Matt Crafton, 2nd in points, is in if a previous winner this year captures MIS. Ben Rhodes(99) 5th in points, Harrison Burton(18) 6th, Todd Gilliland(4) 7th, and Sheldon Creed(2) in 8th all need a win to qualify for the post-season.
Ben Rhodes Still Mad About Kentucky Incident with Brennan Poole
Ben Rhodes, driver of the #99 Ford F-150, in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series is 5th in the point standings coming to MIS. But, he needs a win to make the playoffs. Rhodes was the strongest truck at Kentucky and it looked like he would cash his ticket to the post-season. Unfortunately, an incident with Brennan Poole cost Rhodes a shot at the win.
Commenting on the pressure to make the playoffs, Rhodes is still bitter about being denied the win at Kentucky. “For me, I don’t feel the pressure right now, I feel mad more than anything. I am still mad about Kentucky, I’m mad that I am even in this situation because of things that have happened that I have no control over.”
“I feel more motivated…to make it into the playoffs no matter what. I am going to do whatever I have to do to make it in and I don’t really care who it effects at this point. I just know what I need to do for myself and my team…That’s the situation we have been put in.”
Rhodes traded paint with a few drivers last week at Eldora and had words with Tyler Dippel after the green-white-checkered finish. Safe to say the anger and the motivation will carry over to the race at Michigan.
Results of the Corrigan Oil 200
Unfortunately, Ben Rhodes had another dust-up today. Again with a truck strong enough to win the race, he was three-wide in a battle for the lead when he rubbed fenders and cut down the right-side tires. Pitting for replacement rubber took Rhodes out of contention for the win and out of the playoffs.
Austin Hill, already a winner this year, won after the race went into overtime due to a big wreck on the front stretch with four laps to go. So the playoff picture remained unchanged from the order coming into the race. Hill won the first race of the year at Daytona and the last race of the regular season at Michigan.
More Live Coverage from The Lasco Press for tomorrow’s Consumer’s Energy 400.