Two of NASCAR’s three national series are in action this weekend at Michigan International Speedway with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday. The NASCAR XFINITY Series also races on Saturday – at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Storylines for this weekend follow…

The Race: Pure Michigan 400
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, August 13
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 60), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

Truex Wins Series-Best Fourth Race

Saving fuel in the closing laps, Martin Truex Jr. passed Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney, who had to pit for gas, to win the I LOVE NEW YORK 355 at Watkins Glen International – his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series-high fourth victory of the season.

Truex leads second-place Kyle Busch by 116 points in the series standings. He boasts a series-high 34 playoff points, 18 more than Jimmie Johnson’s 16. If Truex completes the regular season as points leader, he’ll gain an additional 15 playoff points.

The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver’s four wins match his previous career-high total set last season. His nine top fives in 2017 are the most he’s ever accumulated in a single campaign.

Truex also leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in top 10s (15), stage wins (14), average start (7.0), average running position (7.9), driver rating (113.9), fastest laps run (760) and laps led (1,315, 22.2%).

He’ll try to keep his dream season going in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He claims five top fives and eight top 10s in 23 career starts at the two-mile track. He finished sixth in the June race there after leading 62 laps.

Can Michigan Be The Site Of Earnhardt Jr.’s first win?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in playoff trouble. He hasn’t finished better than 12th since his sixth-place showing at Sonoma and needs a win to make the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Michigan might be his best bet of the remaining four tracks (Bristol, Darlington, Richmond) to reach Victory Lane. In 35 career starts at the two-mile track, he has two wins, eight top fives, 15 top 10s and a 15.6 average finish.

Still, if Earnhardt can’t pull off the victory at Michigan, he has recorded a triumph at Bristol and three wins at Richmond in the past.

Larson Goes For Third-Straight Michigan Win

Kyle Larson seems to have Michigan International Speedway figured out. He’s won the last two races and boasts three consecutive top-three showings at the two-mile track.

Larson could use a strong performance in the Pure Michigan 400. He fell to third in the points standings after Watkins Glen and now trails leader Martin Truex Jr. by 122 markers. He hasn’t finished better than 23rd in his last three races, which were preceded by consecutive runner-up showings at Kentucky and New Hampshire.

The No. 42 Chevrolet driver led a race-high 96 laps on his way to the checkered flag at Michigan in June.

Four Races Remain Until Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

A mere four races remain for winless drivers to capture one of the three remaining playoff berths.

The following drivers would be in the playoffs if the season ended today: Martin Truex Jr. (four wins, 34 playoff points), Jimmie Johnson (three, 16), Kyle Larson (two, 13), Brad Keselowski (two, 13), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (two, 10), Kyle Busch (one, 14), Kevin Harvick (one, eight), Ryan Blaney (one, eight), Denny Hamlin (one, seven), Ryan Newman (one, five), Kasey Kahne (one, five), Austin Dillon (one, five), Chase Elliott (39 points above Clint Bowyer on the cutoff line, two playoff points), Jamie McMurray (+34, 0),  Matt Kenseth (+28, 2).

The driver currently outside the playoffs with the best shot to get in on points is Bowyer (28 points below Kenseth on the cutoff line, one playoff point).

Joey Logano – who’s made the Championship 4 in two of the last three seasons – finds himself 95 points behind Kenseth and virtually needs to win to make the playoffs. He has two victories each at Michigan, Bristol and Richmond. His April win at Richmond did not earn him a playoff berth because it was encumbered for a rear suspension violation.

Michigan: Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Logano

Bristol: Kenseth, Earnhardt Jr., Logano

Darlington: Kenseth

Richmond: Bowyer, Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Logano

Suárez Earns Career-Best Third-Place Finish

Daniel Suárez notched a career-best third-place finish and earned his first stage win at Watkins Glen. The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing driver has hit his stride lately with four consecutive top-10 finishes.

Suárez, an alumnus of the NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity programs, leads second-place Erik Jones in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by 17 points.

The 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion ranks 15th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings on the strength of eight top 10s.


The Race: Mid-Ohio Challenge
The Place: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
The Date: Saturday, August 12
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 169.35 miles (75 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 20), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on lap 75)

Mid-Ohio: The Next Road Racing Test For The XFINITY Competitors

Up next on the schedule is the second of three road courses this season, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, for the Mid-Ohio Challenge on Saturday, August 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

In the four NASCAR XFINITY Series races held at Mid-Ohio, the series has seen four different winners – the 2013 winner was Team Penske’s A.J. Allmendinger, 2014 went to Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher, the 2015 winner was JR Motorsport’s Regan Smith and last season’s victory went to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Justin Marks.

The series has also seen four different pole winners at Mid-Ohio in the four events held on the 2.258-mile course – 2013 Michael McDowell, 2014 Sam Hornish Jr., 2015 Alex Tagliani and 2016 Sam Hornish Jr.

This time around, the NASCAR XFINITY Series will be running the Mid-Ohio Challenge with the new stage racing format. The event will be broken up into three stages – the first two stages are 20 laps each, with the final stage being the last 35 laps of the race.

Former Mid-Ohio race winners Justin Marks, Regan Smith and former pole winner Sam Hornish Jr. are all entered this weekend to take on the 13-turn course. Marks returns to the Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief Mike Shiplett. Last season, the duo set the series track record at Mid-Ohio for winning from the furthest starting position (16th). Smith will be driving the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Camry with crew chief Eric Phillips, and Sam Hornish Jr. will be strapped into Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang with crew chief Greg Erwin.


Road Course Ringers In The XFINITY Series

A total of thirty different NASCAR XFINITY Series competitors have won a road course race, led by Marcos Ambrose with five victories (four at Watkins Glen and one at Montreal).

Since the inception of the NASCAR XFINITY Series (1982), only nine drivers have multiple road course wins – Marcos Ambrose (5),

Ron Fellows (4), Terry Labonte (4), Carl Edwards (3), AJ Allmendinger (2), Joey Logano (2), Kevin Harvick (2), Kurt Busch (2) and Kyle Busch (2).

The record for the series most road course wins at a single track is four, held by Marcos Ambrose and Terry Labonte at Watkins Glen International.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series has competed on six different road courses through the years, currently just three are active – Watkins Glen International, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Road America – the three inactives are Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal, 2007-2012) Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (Mexico City, 2005-2008) and Road Atlanta (1986-1987).

Playoff Points Will Payoff Come Post-Season Time

With just a handful of races left in the regular season, accumulating playoff points should be top of mind for the NASCAR XFINITY Series competitors, especially those with a win or who are inside the top 12 in the championship driver standings. Once the playoffs start, drivers will be seeded by their playoff points, making stage and race wins that much more significant.

Currently seven drivers have scored playoff points this season, led by William Byron with 17. Byron also has the series-most wins (three), and therefore will be the No. 1 seed in the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs when they kick off on Sept. 23 at Kentucky Speedway. Byron’s JRM teammate Justin Allgaier with a win and eight playoff points will be seeded second and Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed will be seeded third due to his win and five playoff points.

For the drivers without race wins this season, playoff points are even more crucial to their playoff success. Of the nine winless title contenders, only four have playoff points, led by Elliott Sadler with five – all from stage wins – the series-most this season. Sadler’s five playoff points will have him seeded fourth, just behind the drivers with wins. The other three winless drivers with playoff points (Daniel Hemric, Blake Koch and Brendan Gaughan) each have one point and will be seeded ahead of the drivers without playoff points.  Theoretically, Koch would jump from 10th in points to the seventh seed (+3 spots), and Gaughan would go from 12th in points to the eighth seed (+4 spots) just because of playoff points.  The remaining five drivers will be seeded by their regular season points.

With six races left in the regular season that means 42 playoff points are still on the table – 12 from Stage 1 and 2 wins and a total of 30 playoff points from race wins.


The Race: LTI Printing 200
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, August 12
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200 miles (100 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 100)

Trucking Into Michigan

Following a week off, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series picks back up at Michigan International Speedway for the LTI Printing 200 Saturday, August 12 (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Brett Moffit is the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner at Michigan, while Ben Rhodes (sixth), Matt Crafton (seventh), Grant Enfinger (eighth) and Johnny Sauter (ninth) all finished inside the top-10.

Johnny Sauter Makes Case For Michigan Dominance

2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter is looking for his second win of the season this week at Michigan International Speedway.

Sauter is having another championship-worthy season, as he currently is second in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver points – only 18 points back of leader Christopher Bell. The GMS Racing driver is currently third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff standings – racking up 10 playoff points this season – the third-most among active drivers.

In eight career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Michigan, Sauter has been a wolverine – scoring one win (2014), two top fives and three top 10s. He’s led 46 career laps at Michigan and has never finished outside the top-20.

He will look to continue that run this weekend.

First Timers At Michigan

There are six Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders making their track debut at Michigan International Speedway in Saturday’s LTI Printing 200 (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). They include: Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Stewart Friesen, Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala and Justin Haley.

Other NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie contenders who have made starts at Michigan International Speedway include Wendell Chavous, Cody Coughlin and Grant Enfinger.

In 17 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Michigan International Speedway, current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (06/18/2005), Joey Coulter (08/18/2012) and Brian Ickler (06/13/2009) are the only three drivers to win their first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series poles at Michigan.

Johnny Benson (06/17/2006), Colin Braun (06/13/2009) and Brett Moffitt (08/27/2016) are the only three drivers to win their first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.

Kyle Busch Running In NASCAR Camping World Truck Series At Michigan: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch will be running in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota at Michigan International Speedway. Busch has nine NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Michigan with one win (2015) and seven top fives.

Bubba Wallace Jr. Returns To NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Darrell Wallace Jr. will be back on track this weekend and return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Michigan International Speedway. Wallace Jr. will pilot the No. 99 Chevrolet for owner Matthew Miller in the LTI Printing 200. He has five career wins in the Camping World Truck Series, including a four-win campaign in 2014 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

source – NASCAR communications