Driver Handicaps: Michigan

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This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for Sunday's LifeLock 400. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 200-lap event.

Who's HOT at Michigan
• Carl Edwards leads all drivers with a 7.3 average finish.
• Two-time winner Matt Kenseth has only finished outside of the top 15 twice in 17 starts.
• Jeff Gordon has the best finishing average (12.5) among all drivers that have entered every race since 1998.
• Mark Martin has four victories and 27 top 10's in 44 career starts.
• Tony Stewart has finished in the top 10 in six of his last seven starts.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been the most consistent driver in the last four races based on his finishing average of a 6.5.

Keep an Eye on at Michigan
• Jimmie Johnson is coming off his best finish in 12 races at Michigan after finishing third.
• Michigan is one of three tracks in which Greg Biffle has scored multiple wins at.
• Kyle Busch finished fourth at Fontana in February - his first start on a 2-mile track with Joe Gibbs Racing.
• Last August Michigan winner Kurt Busch has the second best driver rating in the last six races at 106.8.
• Brian Vickers has captured three top 10s on 2-mile tracks since joining Team Red Bull.
• Denny Hamlin has a 10.0 average finish at Michigan in four starts.

Track Performers
Jeff Gordon leads all active full-time drivers with five wins, 29 top 10s, eight poles and 1,479 laps led on 2-mile speedways. Carl Edwards, who has made 15 starts, holds the best finishing average on 2-mile tracks at 7.0. Matt Kenseth is second in average at 10.2 and Gordon (10.6), Jimmie Johnson (10.5) and mark Martin (13.0) round out the top five. Part-time drivers Bill Elliott and Martin also have stellar records on 2-mile tracks with both posting seven and five wins, respectively. Martin leads all drivers with 35 top 10s.



Michigan Rookie Report
None of the Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates have made a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Michigan International Speedway. Regan Smith and Sam Hornish Jr. are the only rookies that have made at least one Nationwide Series start at MIS. In the Cup race at California in February, Smith was the top finishing rookie in 31st. Rookie Standings

Qualifying Tidbits
In the last 15 events at Michigan International Speedway there have been three drivers - Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon - that have won multiple poles. Gordon is coming off his fifth career pole at the track after breaking a tie with Labonte last August for the active full-time driver lead. Ryan Newman is the current qualifying record holder with his June 2005 lap of 194.232 mph. In this event in 2006, Kasey Kahne became the 15th driver at MIS to win from the pole. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Michigan Winners

Michigan Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2007)
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Matt Kenseth
1. Carl Edwards
1. Carl Edwards - 7.9
2. Carl Edwards
2. Greg Biffle
2. Jimmie Johnson - 8.8
3. Jimmie Johnson
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Greg Biffle - 9.7
4. Kurt Busch
4. Tony Stewart
4. Kurt Busch - 10.7
5. Greg Biffle
5. Denny Hamlin
5. Jeff Gordon - 11.3
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Carl Edwards - 998
1. Carl Edwards - 329
1. Carl Edwards - 112.3
2. Jimmie Johnson - 932
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 281
2. Kurt Busch - 106.8
3. Greg Biffle - 908
3. Greg Biffle - 279
3. Greg Biffle - 105.4
4. Kurt Busch - 876
4. Jimmie Johnson - 254
4. Jimmie Johnson - 104.7
5. Matt Kenseth - 821
5. Kurt Busch - 244
5. Matt Kenseth - 104.1


*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.


RacingOne Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Pete Pistone: Jeff Gordon
Rachael West: Denny Hamlin
Kym Opalenik: Carl Edwards

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by Current Standings

1. Kyle Busch: Busch started 17th and finished ninth in his first career Sprint 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 - his only DNF at MIS. Last year in this event, he scored his best finish in six starts after coming home sixth. This weekend he will be making his first start at Michigan with Joe Gibbs Racing. Earlier this season he finished fourth with JGR at MIS' sister track - Auto Club Speedway.

2. Jeff Burton: Burton has captured eight top-10 finishes in 28 starts at Michigan International Speedway, all coming with Roush Racing from 1996-2004. Michigan is one of three tracks on the circuit in which Burton has yet to post a top 10 with Richard Childress Racing. His worst finish (42nd) with RCR came in the 2006 August race when the No. 31 Chevrolet lost an engine on the 17th lap after starting from the pole position. This weekend Burton will be racing a new car (chassis No. 252) in the LifeLock 400.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Earnhardt Jr. has been the best driver in the last four races at Michigan International Speedway based on his finishing average of a 6.5. His two career top fives in 17 starts came in that span with both coming in the June event. His fifth-place finish in this event last year came despite suffering a flat rear tire during the race. This weekend Earnhardt will climb into the same car (chassis No. 88-488) that finished eighth in the All-Star race and was tested at Pocono.

4. Carl Edwards: Edwards won his first Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in this event last year after leading 63 laps from the 12th starting position. He went on to earn his sixth top 10 in the August race with a seventh-place finish. Edwards, who holds the best average finish (7.3) at MIS, will be driving the same car (chassis No. RK-551) that last finished 19th in the All-Star race.

5. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin's best finish at Michigan International Speedway came last August when he placed fifth. The finish was his first top five and it gave him a finishing average of 10.0 in four starts. This weekend he will be back in the same car (chassis No. 208) that finished 24th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

6. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson is coming off his best finish in 12 races at Michigan International Speedway after finishing third last August. In the 2004 August race 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. Last year in this event, Johnson led 56 of his track total 154 laps en route to a 19th-place finish. This weekend he will be behind the wheel of the same chassis (No. 502) that was in contention for the win in the Coca-Cola 600 until an engine failure knocked him out late in the race.

7. Greg Biffle: In last year's race, Biffle scored his worst finish (38th) at Michigan International Speedway after the team missed the setup on the No. 16 Ford. In the five races prior, Biffle captured five consecutive finishes of seventh or better, including two consecutive wins starting with the 2004 August race. This weekend he will be driving the same car (chassis RK-571) that finished fourth at Atlanta.

8. Jeff Gordon: Gordon has two wins, four poles, 15 top fives and 20 top-10 finishes in 30 starts at Michigan International Speedway. Last August, he broke a tie with Bobby Labonte for the active full-time driver pole lead after he scored his fifth with a lap of 189.026 mph. Gordon is first among active full-time drivers in laps led, with 899. In February at Michigan's sister track, California, Gordon led 68 laps en route to a third-place finish.

9. Kasey Kahne: Kahne will look to carry over his winning momentum from Pocono to Michigan in hopes of capturing his fifth top 10 at the 2-mile track. Last season Kahne posted his worst Michigan finishes of 32nd and 21st, respectively. In 2006, he won this race from the pole.

10. Kevin Harvick: 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 the June race in 2001, 2006 and 2007. He will race chassis No. 238 for the fifth time in 2007. The best finish for this particular car came at Atlanta in seventh.

11. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer's 26.2 average finish is hampered by an accident not of his doing in the June event and an engine failure in the August event in 2006. He was running third with three laps to go when the engine failed in the No. 07 relegating him to a 33rd-place finish. Last year in this event, Bowyer posted his best finish at MIS in 16th. This weekend he will pilot the same car (chassis No. 241) that crashed in final practice at Las Vegas.

12. Tony Stewart: Stewart has two third place finishes and a 10th-place finish in his last three starts at Michigan International Speedway. Those finishes, which contributed to his 12 top 10s at MIS, have come from way back in the pack. Stewart's 41st-place finish in the 2006 June race marked his third - first since 2000 - DNF at MIS. His lone win at Michigan came in the 2000 June race.

13. David Ragan: Ragan posted an average finish of 19.5 in his two starts at Michigan International Speedway during his rookie season in 2007. Ragan, who is just seven points out of 12th in the standings, will race the same car (chassis No. RK-584) in the LifeLock 400 that finished 12th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

14. Ryan Newman: Nine of Newman's starts at Michigan International Speedway have been from within the top 10, including one start from the pole in 2005. Newman has won twice at Michigan and has finished in the top five four times. The No. 12 Alltel team is bringing chassis PRS-558 to the track this weekend. This is the same car Newman drove at Texas to a fourth-place finish.

15. Matt Kenseth: With the exception of this event last year, Kenseth has put together a stellar career in 17 races at Michigan International Speedway. Last June saw Kenseth record his first DNF, and first finish outside the top 20, after crashing on lap 75. He has two wins, 11 top 10s, including six-straight from 2002-2005, and has led 181 laps at MIS. Kenseth's win in the 2006 August race lowered his finishing average to 9.7, which is second best among all drivers. This weekend Kenseth will be racing the same car (chassis RK-564) that started 38th and finished eighth at Atlanta.

16. Martin Truex Jr: Martin Truex Jr. has made four starts at Michigan and has finished in the top 10 twice, a pair of second-place finishes in 2007. He led 54 laps in this event last year starting eighth.

17. Brian Vickers: Some of Vickers' best finishes since joining the Red Bull Team have come on the 2-mile tracks of Michigan and Fontana. In five combined starts he has posted an average finish of 15.6, which includes three top 10s. Earlier this season he finished 11th in his first race with the new car at Fontana.

18. Travis Kvapil: This weekend Kvapil will be making his first start at Michigan since the 2006 season. That year saw Kvapil post his best finishes at the track, with a pair of 21st-place finishes. The LifeLock 400 will mark his first track start with Yates Racing. He will make that start in the same car (chassis No. 530) that finished 36th at California.

19. Bobby Labonte: Labonte will be making his fifth start at Michigan International Speedway with Petty Enterprises. He scored his first top 10 with the team at the 2-mile track last August after finishing ninth. Labonte has won three times MIS with Joe Gibbs Racing, with the last occurring in 1999. His average start, supplemented by four poles, is 12.4. On the strength of 16 top 10s and nine top fives, Labonte's average finish is 13.5.

20. Juan Montoya: Michigan International Speedway is Montoya's worst oval on the circuit based on his 34.5 finishing average. His best success at the track came in the CART series where he posted a win and a second-place finish with Chip Ganassi. This weekend he will be driving the same car that finished 30th in the Coca-Cola 600.

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