Driver Handicaps: Michigan

Michigan

Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth each have an 8.0 average finish in the last 10 races at Michigan Int'l Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

Driver Averages |  Loop Data eBook (pdf) Driver Ratings Past Winners

Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Who's HOT at Michigan
• Tony Stewart has finished ninth or better in his last five starts.
• Two-time winner Carl Edwards leads all drivers with an 8.4 average finish.
• Two-time winner Matt Kenseth has only finished outside of the top 15 three times in 26 starts. 
• Two-time winner winner Greg Biffle has the best driver rating in the last 15 races.
• June winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has the fourth-best average finish (11.5) in the last 10 races among drivers entered in this weekend's race. 
• Five-time winner Mark Martin leads all drivers with 31 top 10s.
• Kyle Busch has finished in the top three in two of his last three starts, including a win in this event last year.
• Jeff Gordon has finished sixth or better in five of his last seven starts. 
• Clint Bowyer is coming off his third consecutive top 10 after recording a seventh-place finish in his first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing.
• Denny Hamlin has finished in the top 10 in five of his last seven starts, including two wins.

Keep an Eye On at Michigan 
• Kevin Harvick (7.0), Jimmie Johnson (7.5), Martin Truex Jr. (10.0) and Ryan Newman (11.0) are among the drivers ranked in the top 10 in average finish in the two races contested at 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan) this season.
• Kasey Kahne, who was involved in an accident in his first Michigan start with Hendrick Motorsports in June, has recorded an average finish of 7.0 in the last five races of the season.
• Marcos Ambrose, last week's winner at Watkins Glen, is coming off his first top 10 at Michigan in eight starts after winning the pole.
• Juan Pablo Montoya finished eighth in June for his second top 10 in his last four starts at Michigan.
• Brad Keselowski, who scored his only top 10 (third) at Michigan last year in this event, will return in the same car he finished fifth with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Michigan Qualifying Facts

*Active Pole Leaders
*Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Jeff Gordon - 5
1. Jimmie Johnson - 9.0
Pole - 16 times
2. Bobby Labonte - 4
2. Jeff Gordon - 11.1
Top Five - 52 times
3. Ken Schrader,
3. Ryan Newman - 11.3
Top 10 - 66 times
Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch 4. Kasey Kahne - 11.6
Top 15  - 73 times
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton - 2 5. Mark Martin - 11.9
Worst - 32nd, one time

* - Must be entered in the Pure Michigan 400.

*Best Average Finish at Michigan

Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Jimmie Johnson
3.5
Four Races
Matt Kenseth
5.0
Six Races
Tony Stewart
7.7
Eight Races
Tony Stewart
8.1
10 Races
Matt Kenseth/ Tony Stewart
8.0

* - The best average finish is based off a driver who has competed in every race during that time span.

Michigan Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2012)

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Greg Biffle
1. Greg Biffle
1. Greg Biffle - 8.3
2. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
2. Jimmie Johnson - 10.3
3. Matt Kenseth
3. Jimmie Johnson
3. Matt Kenseth - 10.4
4. Carl Edwards
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Carl Edwards - 10.4
5. Tony Stewart
5. Matt Kenseth
5. Tony Stewart - 11.9 
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Greg Biffle - 2503
1. Carl Edwards - 723
1. Greg Biffle - 108.1
2. Carl Edwards - 2391
2. Greg Biffle - 692
2. Matt Kenseth - 105.4
3. Matt Kenseth - 2377
3. Matt Kenseth - 673
3. Jimmie Johnson - 105.0
4. Jimmie Johnson - 2237
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 637
4. Carl Edwards - 104.7
5. Tony Stewart - 2230
5. Tony Stewart - 635
5. Tony Stewart - 98.6

*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.


For a look at all the pre-race Loop Data for Michigan, view the Pure Michigan 400 Pre-Race eBook (pdf).

Season Loop Data Leaders

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Greg Biffle - 8.4
2. Kyle Busch
2. Kasey Kahne
2. Matt Kenseth - 8.7
3. Mark Martin
3. Jeff Gordon
3. Jimmie Johnson - 9.5
4. Denny Hamlin
4. Matt Kenseth
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 10.1
5. Jeff Gordon
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Denny Hamlin - 11.2
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Matt Kenseth - 5098
1. Brad Keselowski - 1347
1. Jimmie Johnson - 109.9
2. Jimmie Johnson - 4958
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1308
2. Greg Biffle - 104.1
3. Greg Biffle - 4886
3. Kyle Busch - 1265
3. Matt Kenseth - 103.5
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 4860
4. Marcos Ambrose - 1138
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 100.8
5. Martin Truex Jr. - 4740
5. Greg Biffle - 1136
5. Denny Hamlin - 98.1

*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.


MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Greg Biffle 
Pete Pistone: Jimmie Johnson
Ricky Hamber: Kyle Busch
John Singler: Denny Hamlin

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings
(All stats/notes are in regards to Michigan unless noted)

Jimmie Johnson: 3.5 average finish in last two starts; Runner-up in this event last year is best in 21 starts; Sixth-best average finish (9.2) in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 720) that he finished fifth with at MIS in June.

Greg Biffle: Coming off eighth top five (fourth) in 19 starts; Last of two wins came in the 2005 June race; Has combined to lead 258 laps in last four starts; 11.2 average finish in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 817) that he finished third with at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month.

Matt Kenseth: Has finished in the top 10 in the last four races; Third-place finish in June is 12th top five in 26 starts; Last of two wins came in this event in 2006; Second-best average finish (7.0) in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 787) that he finished third with in the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Won the June race after leading 95 laps; Win was second in nine starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Tied for the seventh-best average finish (10.2) in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 716) he took to Victory Lane at MIS in June.

Brad Keselowski: Third-place finish in this event last year is only top 10 in six starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 826) that he finished fifth with at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

Martin Truex Jr: 16.4 average finish in five starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Has posted a 17.2 average finish in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club).

Clint Bowyer: Finished seventh in first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in June; Finish was third consecutive top 10; 17.5 average finish in 13 starts; Fifth-best average finish (8.6) in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 727) that he raced at MIS in June.

Tony Stewart: Has finished ninth or better in last five starts; Second-place finish in June was 11th top five in 27 starts; Best average finish (6.4) in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 706) that he races at MIS in June and won with at Auto Club Speedway in March.

Kevin Harvick: Coming off eighth top 10 (10th) in 23 starts; Won this event in 2010; 11.8 average finish in last four starts; Tied for the seventh-best average finish (10.2) in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 381) that he finished 11th with at Kentucky Speedway in June.

Denny Hamlin: Has finished in the top 10 in five of his last seven starts; Accident in June snapped two-race win streak in that event; 34.5 average finish in last two starts; 13.8 average finish and 148 laps led in 13 overall starts.

Kasey Kahne: Finished 33rd (accident) in first track start with Hendrick Motorsports in June; Finished seventh in this event last year for seventh top 10 in 17 starts; Won the 2006 June event with Evernham Motorsports; 18.2 average finish in the last five races on 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 729) that he raced at Pocono Raceway in June where a cut tire sent him to the garage while running in the top 10.

Carl Edwards: Two-time winner; Leads all drivers with 8.4 average finish; Has finished in the top five in five of his last eight starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 739) that he finished fifth with at Las Motor Speedway.

Ryan Newman: 8.7 average finish in last three starts; 17.0 average finish in seven starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Scored two wins in previous 15 starts with Penske Racing; Third-best average finish (7.6) in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 733) that he finished seventh with at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month.

Kyle Busch: Defending race winner; 32nd-place finish in June snapped streak of consecutive top-three finishes; 16.6 average finish in 15 starts; Second in laps led (80) in the two races this season at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Fourth-best average finish (8.2) in the last five races at 2-mile speedways.

Jeff Gordon: Coming off consecutive sixth-place finishes; 11.3 average finish in 39 starts; Last of two wins came in the 2001 June race; 14.6 average finish in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club).

Paul Menard: 17.3 average finish in three starts with Richard Childress Racing; Fourth-place finish in the 2011 June race is only top 10 in 12 starts; 17.4 average finish in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 397) that he finished 22nd with at MIS in June.

Marcos Ambrose: Won the pole and finished ninth in June; 24.8 average finish in eight starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 784) that he raced at MIS in June.

Joey Logano: 18.0 average finish in seven starts; Last of three top 10s came in this event in 2010; Has yet to lead a lap.

Jeff Burton: Last of nine top 10s came in the 2010 June race; 16.5 average finish in 37 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 367) that he finished 15th with at Pocono Raceway in June.

Jamie McMurray: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in five starts with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing; Last of four top 10s came in this event in 2008; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1208) that he finished 14th with at MIS in June.

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