Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
NASCAR duel of dominators hits Michigan
Two organizations are atop the all-time Michigan International Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins list, with Roush Fenway Racing and Wood Brothers Racing tied at 11. Both organizations will compete Sunday in the Quicken Loans 400 at the track, Wood Brothers with the single-car No. 21 Ford entry driven by Trevor Bayne and Roush Fenway Racing entering three Fords, the No. 16 driven by Greg Biffle, the No. 17 of Matt Kenseth and the No. 99 of Carl Edwards.
But this isn’t the same old Michigan. With a newly-paved surface, the track now provides more grip for higher speeds. As a matter-of-fact, during a test session on Thursday, all 43 cars participating in the test posted speeds faster than Ryan Newman’s old track record.
I don’t think anyone knows what’s going to happen with the new surface yet.
“It’s really, really fast here,” Biffle said of the new surface. “The one thing that I have liked seeing is that the track is pretty wide. The groove is all the way up in the middle of the second groove and that is certainly going to help racing around here at those speeds because it gives us some options.”
That new surface doesn’t change the fact, though, that Roush Fenway Racing is a dominant force in team owner Jack Roush’s backyard. Roush’s Roush Industries is located nearby in Livonia, Mich., and while Wood Brothers Racing boasts the same number of wins at MIS as RFR, Roush has been the Michigan dominator as of late.
“Racing at Michigan is a big weekend for us since the area is the headquarters for Roush Industries and Ford Motor Company,” Kenseth said.
Two of the Roush Fenway drivers have multiple wins at Michigan, with Kenseth and Edwards having two apiece. Between them, Edwards is the most recent victor, claiming a win in August 2008.
“A win at Michigan is as big as any win on the circuit because it’s in Ford & Jack Roush’s backyard,” Edwards said. “It’s huge to be able to win a race there and we need a win right now. I don’t think anyone knows what’s going to happen with the new surface yet. Last week we were able to adapt and make our car fast, and hopefully we can do the same thing this week to get our Fastenal Ford to victory lane.”
Roush Fenway Racing and Wood Brothers Racing may be the dominating forces when it comes to racing at Michigan, but none of the drivers from either camp have dominated the track. Instead a former Roush driver, Mark Martin, lays claim to that honor with five wins at the track, the most among active drivers.
Martin now pilots the No. 55 Toyota at Michael Waltrip Racing. MWR entries, including its other two cars, the No. 15 Toyota driven by Clint Bowyer and the No. 56 driven by Martin Truex Jr., have been running up front most of the season in search of their first win of the year. It just so happens that Martin posted the fastest speed in the morning session of Thursday testing with a top lap speed of 201.089 mph. His MWR teammate, Truex, was also among a handful of drivers who got up over 200 mph.
“It's kind of interesting that we go to two race tracks in a row that are repaves, because it's totally different with a test day at them,” Truex said.
The interest is slated to continue on Sunday, with the Quicken Loans 400 taking the green flag shortly after 1 p.m. ET. Qualifying is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.