Idriver Handicaps:/I Michigan
August 18, 2005 | 12:27 P.M. EST
Avg. Start: 19.4
Avg. Finish: 13.1
In June, Stewart scored his eighth top-10 finish at Michigan Int'l Speedway when he finished second. The finish was the start of Stewart's current hot streak of eight consecutive top-10 finishes. Heading into the June MIS race, Stewart was ranked 11th in the standings, and he now sits in first - 105 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson. Stewart has one win at Michigan in the June race in 2000. This weekend, he will be back in the same car (chassis No. 83) that he captured his emotional victory with in this month's Brickyard 400.
Quotable: "I'll be honest. I've had zones where I've finished in the top-three when I was in Midgets and Sprint Cars where I could go week-in and week-out and not fall out of the top-three. But to win five out of the last seven and be in the top-five for the last eight weeks is a pretty good record."
2. Jimmie Johnson
Avg. Start: 14.1
Avg. Finish: 18.1
Johnson posted his best finish (fourth) in seven races at Michigan Int'l Speedway in the June event last season. Last August, Johnson started from the pole - after rain washed out qualifying - but his day ended after 81 laps when the engine expired in the Lowe's Chevrolet placing him 40th, his worst finish and only DNF at MIS. In the 2003 August race Johnson led 50 of his track total 82 laps. This weekend's primary chassis (No. 48359) for Johnson will be the same car that raced at Pocono and the All-Star race.
Quotable: "We had a good race up there last time (finished 19th, led two laps). We were fair and just didn't get the finish we wanted at the end of the day."
3. Greg Biffle
Avg. Start: 20.6
Avg. Finish: 12.0
Biffle has three top-five finishes at Michigan Int'l Speedway, including a win in the last two events. He will bring back the same car (chassis No. RK-239) that led a combined 136 laps en route to his two victories at MIS. Biffle also has two wins in the Truck Series at Michigan. The No. 16 will sport a special National Guard PRISM paint scheme at the 2-mile speedway.
Quotable: "We need a strong run to rebuild the momentum we have lost in the last few weeks. A win this weekend would be a great rebound from the points we lost last week and a victory in Ford's backyard is always something we want."
4. Rusty Wallace
Avg. Start: 13.9
Avg. Finish: 14.2
Wallace is second in wins, with five, behind Bill Elliott (seven) at Michigan Int'l Speedway. His last win came on August 20, 2000. Overall, Wallace ranks third in laps led (854), fourth in top 10s (21) and is tied for second in top-fives (15). Wallace will race chassis PRS-035 for the fifth time this season. This car has finished 10th at Texas, Lowe's and Michigan.
Quotable: "Michigan has been a great track for us through the years. You have to have a great handling car and a ton of horsepower and durability."
5. Mark Martin
Avg. Start: 11.1
Avg. Finish: 11.6
This past June, Martin finished third at Michigan Int'l Speedway for his 15th top five at the track. He finished second in this event one year ago. His 26 top-10 finishes at MIS currently leads all active full-time drivers. Martin's last of four victories at Michigan came in the June event back in 1998. He has led 23 races at MIS for a total of 872 laps. He will return in the same car (chassis RK-314) that finished seventh at Indy in its first start.
Quotable: "Michigan is a great race track. It's easy to pass and if you have your car set up right you can really have a great time there."
6. Kurt Busch
Avg. Start: 12.2
Avg. Finish: 20.3
Busch has one win (June 15, 2003) at Michigan Int'l Speedway in nine starts. Last year he finished 11th and sixth respectively at MIS from the seventh starting position. In his first two starts, he got off to a rough start finishing last for two of his three DNFs at Michigan. Busch, who has led five races at MIS for 130 laps, will race chassis No. 65 that went to Victory Lane at Pocono last month and finished 12th at MIS in June.
Quotable: "Fuel mileage also seems to usually play a part in the final outcome so there's a strategy element involved that keeps everyone on their toes."
7. Jeremy Mayfield
Avg. Start: 16.3
Avg. Finish: 19.1
Mayfield has two top-five and three top-10 finishes in 23 races at Michigan Int'l Speedway. His best finish (fourth) at MIS came with Penske Racing on June 10, 2001. Mayfield, who finished 22nd in the last race at MIS, was ranked 13th in the series standings when the series rolled into the Irish Hills this past June. He will be racing a new car (chassis No. 108) that was tested at MIS last week.
Quotable: "We realize what the big picture is. We didn't panic at Watkins Glen when the caution came out and messed our whole strategy up. We kept digging, did what we had to do and almost worked our way back to the top 10."
8. Ryan Newman
Avg. Start: 6.8
Avg. Finish: 13.9
Newman captured his first win at Michigan Int'l Speedway in this event back in 2003. He went on to win the next event at MIS the following June. Newman scratched Michigan off his list of tracks he had yet to win a pole at in June after he set the new qualifying recored with a lap of 194.232 mph. His average MIS career start of 6.8 leads all actice drivers. He will drive chassis PRS-87 for the first time this season. This car has been tested at Indy and Atlanta. Newman will also run the Busch Series race at MIS, which is the site of his first NBS win 2001.
Quotable: "From a driver's standpoint you get to draft and bump draft on the straightaways. You can get off line and go three or four-wide in the corners. It's relatively not bumpy and that makes it good for racing."
9. Jamie McMurray
Avg. Start: 26.8
Avg. Finish: 20.8
McMurray posted his first top-10 finish (fourth) at Michigan Int'l Speedway last August. In June, he finished 13th and led one lap. It was the second time he has held the lead at MIS. The first time came in this event last season when he led for three circuits. Last year in the June event, he posted his worst finish at the track after the engine expired on lap 114. The No. 42 will be back in its orginal colors on chassis No. 208 at Michigan. This car will make its seventh appearance of 2005. It best finish was a runner-up at Texas. This car will make its 2005 debut after competeting in five races last season.
Quotable: "Last week was a big week for us in the points. I'm trying not to focus on it too much though, because I made myself sick thinking about it last year. Still, it's hard to completely block it out."
10. Carl Edwards
Avg. Start: 23.0
Avg. Finish: 7.5
Edwards finished fifth in June at Michigan Int'l Speedway to mark his second top 10 in two starts. His 10th-place finish in this event last year was Edwards' first career NEXTEL Cup start. He will race the same car (RK-302) that raced at Dover and Michigan. The No. 99 will carry the colors of AAA for the last of three times in 2005. Edwards will make an appearance on QVC on Friday from 8:15 - 8:45 p.m. (ET).
Quotable: "I don't think that this time last year we could have even imagined sitting where we are today with two wins and a chance to be in the 'Chase'. That's awesome."
11. Elliott Sadler
Avg. Start: 20.1
Avg. Finish: 22.8
Sadler scored his best finish (fourth) at Michigan Int'l Speedway in the June event in 2004. He captured his second top-10 finish this past June after he started 18th and finished eighth. Last year Sadler led in both races for a combined total of 21 laps.
12. Dale Jarrett
Avg. Start: 18.1
Avg. Finish: 14.8
Jarrett has four wins and 15 top-five finishes in 37 career starts at Michigan Int'l Speedway. Last year, Jarrett finished third in both races for his 10th and 11th top-five finish in the last 16 races.
13. Jeff Gordon
Avg. Start: 9.6
Avg. Finish: 10.2
Gordon has two wins, four poles, 14 top-fives and 17 top-10 finishes in 25 starts at Michigan Int'l Speedway. His four Bud Poles is currently tied with Bobby Labonte for the active full-time driver lead. Gordon is fourth in laps led, with 280, at MIS. He will be driving his California car, which was tested last week at Michigan.
14. Kevin Harvick
Avg. Start: 14.8
Avg. Finish: 17.7
Harvick's best finish at Michigan Int'l Speedway was second in the 2003 August race. The finish came after leading 46 laps. It was the second time in Harvick's career he led laps at MIS. The other time came in the summer prior when he held the lead for 42 circuits en route to a third-place finish. Harvick's only other top-10 finish came in his first start the track in 2001. He will race chassis No. 148 for the seventh time in 2005. This car has two top-10 finishes at Pocono. Heading into the June event in June, Harvick was ranked seventh in the standings.
15. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Avg. Start: 10.3
Avg. Finish: 20.8
Earnhardt Jr. has finished inside the top 10 twice at Michigan Int'l Speedway, most recently in the June event in 2003. Michigan is the only track Junior has earned multiple poles (August race in 2000, 2002). He finishes 17th in June, and 21st in both events last year.
16. Matt Kenseth
Avg. Start: 23.2
Avg. Finish: 8.5
Kenseth has competed in 12 races at Michigan Int'l Speedway. He has one win (June 16, 2002), eight top-10s, including five-straight, and has led 54 laps at MIS. His 8.5 finishing average currently leads all active drivers that have started five or more races. Kenseth will be racing the same car (chassis RK-39) that led 176 of 267 laps at Chicagoland en route to his best finish (second) of the season.
17. Joe Nemechek
Avg. Start: 18.7
Avg. Finish: 24.1
Nemechek scored his first top-10 finish since 1998 in June after he started 11th and finished sixth. He also led for one lap, which was the first time he has held the lead at MIS.
18. Brian Vickers
Avg. Start: 10.3
Avg. Finish: 24.0
Vickers best finish (ninth) in three starts at Michigan Int'l Speedway came in his first start in June, 2004. Since then, he has finished 22nd and 41st, respectively.
19. Kasey Kahne
Avg. Start: 16.3
Avg. Finish: 8.3
Kahne has two top-five finishes in three starts at Michigan Int'l Speedway. His best finish (second) came in the June race (first MIS start) last season. Kahne started fourth and finished 18th in June. He led a race at MIS for the first time last August, leading for six circuits. He will be in the same car (chassis No. 119) that finished second at Indy two weeks ago.
20. Kyle Busch
Avg. Start: 17.0
Avg. Finish: 9.0
In June, Busch started 17th and finished ninth in his first career NEXTEL Cup start at Michigan Int'l Speedway. Last year, he won the Busch Series event at MIS in his first series start at the track.
21. Michael Waltrip
Avg. Start: 21.4
Avg. Finish: 19.8
Waltrip has eight top-10 finishes in 40 starts at Michigan Int'l Speedway. His best finish (fourth) came in the June event in 2002. In June, Waltrip started 30th, led three laps, and finished seventh. He has one Busch Series win (2002) at MIS.
23. Casey Mears
Avg. Start: 13.0
Avg. Finish: 22.6
Mears notched his best start (second) and led for the first time (seven laps) at Michigan Int'l Speedway this past June. He finished 21st after a pit road miscue put him a lap down. Mears will be racing the same car that already has a pair of top-10 finishes at Indy and Chicagoland.
24. Bobby Labonte
Avg. Start: 11.5
Avg. Finish: 12.1
Labonte has two wins and 15 top-10 finishes at Michigan Int'l Speedway in 26 starts. He will pilot the same car (chassis No. 91) that finished 13th at Chicagoland last month.
25. Ricky Rudd
Avg. Start: 15.6
Avg. Finish: 18.5
Rudd leads all active drivers with 57 career starts at Michigan Int'l Speedway. His best finish over the past ten races at MIS was a pair of runner-up's in August 2000 and June 2001. Rudd won this event back in 1993 and has led a total of 347 laps at MIS.
28. Sterling Marlin
Marlin has one win (August 19, 2001) and 12 top-10s in 40 starts at Michigan Int'l Speedway. In June, he finished 40th after the engine expired giving him his eighth DNF at MIS. He will drive chassis No. 114 for the first time this season. Marlin's teammate Casey Mears has piloted this car twice this year at Atlanta and Pocono.
44. Bill Elliott
Avg. Start: 9.0
Avg. Finish: 13.5
Elliott will make his seventh regular season start (744th overall) this weekend at Michigan Int'l Speedway. Although Elliott is racing part-time, he leads all active drivers with the most poles, wins, top fives, top 10s, and laps led at MIS.
RacingOne Staff Picks:
Pete Pistone: Kurt Busch
Rick Benjamin: Greg Biffle
Ron Lemasters: Tony Stewart
Jeff Wackerlin: Matt Kenseth
Jeff (Greg Biffle-California, Kevin Harvick-Bristol, Jeff Gordon-Martinsville, Tony Stewart-Daytona)
Rick (Jeff Gordon-Talladega, Greg Biffle-Michigan)
Ron (Tony Stewart-Infineon, Tony Stewart-Indianapolis, Tony Stewart-Watkins Glen)
GFS Marketplace 400
Michigan International Speedway
TV: TNT, 1:30 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
Race length: 200 Laps, 400 miles.