Driver Handicaps: Michigan

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    This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the Citizens Bank 400. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 200-lap event.

    Who's HOT at Michigan
  • Mark Martin has four victories and 27 top 10's in 42 career starts.
  • Greg Biffle's average driver rating of 118.1 leads all drivers.
  • Two-time winner Matt Kenseth has only finished outside of the top 15 once in 15 starts.
  • Jeff Gordon has the best finishing average (11.9) among all drivers that have entered every race since 1998.
  • Kasey Kahne, who is the defending race winner, has finished in the top five in four of his six starts.
  • Carl Edwards has led a combined 74 laps in the last three races and has posted four top-10 finishes.

    Keep an Eye on at Michigan
  • Kevin Harvick will race the same car that was in contention for the win at California before a flat tire forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop.
  • Reed Sorenson leads all drivers with a 6.5 average finish at Michigan.
  • Tony Stewart has finished ninth or better in seven of the last nine Michigan races.
  • Jimmie Johnson will return in the same car that finished third at California in February.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. is coming off his best Michigan finishes of third and sixth.
  • Ryan Newman will look took continue his recent hot streak driving the same chassis that won the pole at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
  • Martin Truex Jr. has an average finish of 8.2 in his last five starts in 2007.

    Track Performers
    Jeff Gordon leads all active full-time drivers with five wins and 1,313 laps led on 2-mile speedways. Carl Edwards, who has made 11 starts, holds the best finishing average on 2-mile tracks at 8.6. Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin are second and third in finishing average, respectively, at 9.1 and 10.0. Mark Martin leads all drivers with 34 top 10s and Gordon leads all active full-time drivers with six poles. Part-time driver Bill Elliott, who will make his fourth start of the season with the Woods Brothers, is the leader in wins and poles with seven a piece.

    Michigan Rookie Report
    Paul Menard is the only Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate that has made a NEXTEL Cup start at Michigan International Speedway. Last year, Menard started 36th and finished 20th in the August race. Both Menard and David Reutimann are the only rookies that have raced in the Busch Series at MIS, each scoring a best sixth-place finish. David Ragan, who was the top finishing rookie at California, raced in the Truck Series at MIS along with Reutimann. Rookie Standings

    Qualifying Tidbits
    In the last 14 events at Michigan International Speedway there have been three drivers - Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon - that have won multiple poles. Both Labonte and Gordon are tied for the lead among active full-time drivers with four poles each. Ryan Newman is the current qualifying record holder with his June 2005 lap of 194.232 mph. Last year in this event, Kasey Kahne became the 15th driver at MIS to win from the pole. Earlier this season, Gordon captured his seventh pole on a 2-mile speedway after taking the top spot at California Speedway with a lap of 185.735 mph. Kahne, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick and Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five qualifiers in the Fontana event.

    Michigan Int'l Speedway Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2006)
    *Fastest Early in a Run
    *Fastest Late in a Run
    Avg. Running Position
    1. Greg Biffle
    1. Greg Biffle
    1. Greg Biffle - 6.5
    2. Matt Kenseth
    2. Carl Edwards
    2. Carl Edwards - 8.0
    3. Kurt Busch
    3. Matt Kenseth
    3. Matt Kenseth - 10.2
    4. Carl Edwards
    4. Tony Stewart
    4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 11.3
    5. Jeff Burton
    5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    4. Jimmie Johnson - 11.3
    Laps in Top 15
    *Quality Passes
    *Driver Rating
    1. Greg Biffle - 680
    1. Carl Edwards - 210
    1. Greg Biffle - 118.1
    2. Carl Edwards - 626
    2. Greg Biffle - 188
    2. Matt Kenseth - 111.3
    2. Matt Kenseth - 607
    3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 176
    3. Carl Edwards - 109.8
    4. Mark Martin - 553
    4. Denny Hamlin - 166
    4. Kurt Busch - 100.1
    5. Jimmie Johnson - 546
    5. Kasey Kahne - 163
    5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 99.1


    *Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
    *Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
    *Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
    *Driver Rating : Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


    Dale Jr. Reality Cup Tiebreakers

    Last Five Number of Lead Changes
    2006-26
    2006-17
    2005-19
    2005-20
    2004-25

    Average: 21.4

    Last Five Number of Cautions Laps
    2006-36
    2006-37
    2005-30
    2005-23
    2004-33

    Average: 31.8

    *RacingOne Staff Picks

    Jeff Wackerlin: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    Pete Pistone: Ryan Newman
    Jorge Mondaca: Greg Biffle
    Rachael West: David Ragan

    *Note: Drivers can be selected only one time per season. Race points will be added up each week. This is the 12th race of the season for this section of the handicaps. Standings

    Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings

    1. Jeff Gordon (Points: 2249): Gordon has two wins, four poles, 15 top fives and 19 top-10 finishes in 28 starts at Michigan International Speedway. His four Bud Poles is currently tied with Bobby Labonte for the active full-time driver lead. Gordon is first among active full-time drivers in laps led, with 856. Last year in this event, Gordon started second and led 50 laps en route to an eighth-place finish. In August he finished second.

    2. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind: -242): Kenseth has competed in 15 races at Michigan International Speedway. He has two wins, 10 top 10s, including six-straight from 2002-2005, and has led 150 laps at MIS. Kenseth's win last August lowered his finishing average to 7.9, which is the best among all drivers with three or more starts. He will be racing the same car (chassis RK-323) that led 87 laps last year at MIS en route to the win. This car most recently raced last month at Lowe's Motor Speedway where it finished 12th.

    3. Denny Hamlin (Points Behind: -247): Hamlin finished 12th and ninth, respectively, in 2006 at Michigan International Speedway. He will be driving a new car (chassis No. 183) when he makes his third career start at MIS.

    4. Jimmie Johnson (Points Behind: -305): Johnson posted his best finish (fourth) in 10 races at Michigan International Speedway in the June event in 2004. In the August race that same season, 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 83 laps. Johnson, who finished sixth and 13th, respectively, in 2006, will be behind the wheel of the same chassis (No. 339) that finished third at California in February.

    5. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: -421): Burton has captured eight top-10 finishes in 26 starts at Michigan International Speedway, all coming with Roush Racing from 1996-2004. In his five Michigan track starts with Richard Childress Racing, Burton has finished 12th, 11th, 26th, 11th and 42nd, respectively. The 42nd-place finish came when the No. 31 Chevrolet lost an engine on the 17th lap after starting from the pole position. This weekend he will race the same chassis (No. 155) that won the Texas race in April.

    6. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: -516): Last August, Stewart scored his seventh top-five finish at Michigan International Speedway when he finished third. Stewart's 41st-place finish in this event last year marked his third - first since 2000 - DNF at MIS. His lone win at Michigan came in the 2000 June race. This weekend Stewart will race chassis No. 120 for the seventh time in 2007. This car's best finish came at Atlanta when it placed second.

    7. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: -539): Edwards has finished in the top 10 in four of his five starts at Michigan International Speedway. Edwards' runner-up finish in this event last year is currently his best-to-date. Edwards, who has led a combined 74 laps in the last three MIS races, will drive chassis No. RK-272 in his 100th NEXTEL Cup Series start. This is the same car that finished 15th last month at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

    8. Clint Bowyer (Points Behind: -590): Bowyer's 36.0 average finish is hampered by an accident not of his doing in this event last year and an engine failure in the August race. He was running third with three laps to go when the engine failed in the No. 07 relegating him to a 33rd-place finish. This weekend he will look to turn around his Michigan luck driving the same car (chassis No. 152) that finished sixth in March at Atlanta.

    9. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind: -601): Harvick's best finish at Michigan International 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 finishes came in his first track start in 2001 and in this event last year - both 10th-place finishes. He will race chassis No. 174 for third time in 2007. This is the same car Harvick raced at California where it was in contention for the win before a flat tire forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop.

    10. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: -636): Busch started 17th and finished ninth in his first career NEXTEL Cup start at Michigan International Speedway. In the second race that same year, he started fourth and led 28 laps before the car overheated and fell out of the race on lap 81. Busch finished 14th and 29th, respectively, and led a combined 12 laps last year at Michigan. This weekend he will race the same car (chassis No. 394) that finished ninth at California in February.

    11. Martin Truex Jr. (Points Behind: -652): Truex finished 16th and 30th, respectively, in 2006 at Michigan International Speedway. This weekend he will look to continue his climb up the NEXTEL Cup point standings by returning in the same car (chassis No. 053) that finished third at Pocono last weekend.

    12. Mark Martin (Points Behind: -663): Martin finished fifth in his last Michigan race with Roush Racing last August. The finish marked his 16th top finish in 42 career starts. Martin's last of four victories at Michigan came in this event back in 1998. He has led 24 races at MIS for a total of 882 laps. This weekend will be Martin's first start at MIS in a Chevrolet.

    13. Ryan Newman (Points Behind: -685): Newman has yet to score a top 10 finish in his five starts at Michigan International Speedway since winning this event in 2004. He has started ninth or better in eight of his 11 races at MIS, including a pole in the 2005 June race. His starting average took a hit last June after he had a tire go down on his qualifying attempt. He started 42nd. Newman will looks took continue his recent hot streak driving chassis PRS-071. This is the same car that won the pole before losing an engine early in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

    14. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind: -718): Earnhardt Jr. has finished inside the top 10 four times at Michigan International Speedway, most recently last year when he placed third and sixth, respectively. Michigan is the only track where Junior has earned multiple poles (August races in 2000 and 2002). He will race the same car (chassis No. 039) that most recently finished eighth at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

    15. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind: -762): McMurray posted his only top-10 finish (fourth) at Michigan International Speedway in the 2004 August race, driving the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi. Last year he finished 23rd and 17th, respectively, in his first track starts with Roush Fenway Racing. McMurray will race a brand new car (chassis No. RK-273) that was built just a couple weeks ago.

    16. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: -795): Busch has one win (June 15, 2003) at Michigan International Speedway in 12 starts. Last year in this event, Busch made his first start at MIS with Penske Racing and finished ninth for his fifth top 10 at the track. In his first two track starts in 2001, he got off to a rough start finishing last for two of his four DNFs at Michigan. Busch, who has led eight races at MIS for 196 laps, will race the same car (chassis No. PRS-081) that finished eighth last November at Texas.

    17. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind: -803): Labonte has three wins and 15 top-10 finishes at Michigan International Speedway in 29 starts. Last year, Labonte finished 28th and 19th, respectively, in his first starts at MIS with Petty Enterprises.

    18. J.J. Yeley (Points Behind: -824): Yeley will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 138) that he captured his career best NEXTEL Cup finish (second) with at Lowe's Motor Speedway as he looks to improve his 38.5 average finish at Michigan International Speedway.

    19. Greg Biffle (Points Behind: -837): In eight career races, Biffle has five finishes of seventh or better at Michigan International Speedway, including two consecutive wins starting with the 2004 August race. He will be driving the same car (chassis No. RK-431) that finished 15th at California in February.

    20. Elliott Sadler (Points Behind: -882): Last August, Sadler finished 10th at Michigan International Speedway in his first career start with Evernham Motorsports. He scored his best MIS finish (fifth) in the 2004 June event driving for Robert Yates Racing. In 2004, Sadler led in both races for a combined total of 21 laps - the last time he led at MIS.

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