BROOKLYN, Mich. – The Irish Hills of Michigan are going to be filled with the roar of racecars as Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers seek the ever-elusive pot of gold in Victory Lane. They will be joined by the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Meanwhile, the Xfinity Series heads to the ups and downs, twists and turns of the Mid-Ohio road course.
Cup action is heating up around the cutoff point with only four races to go until the Playoffs begin. Right now, Clint Bowyer sits 15th just 12 markers ahead of Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson. The cutoff point is whoever is in 16th place after Indy. A first-time winner in 2019 would quickly alter that scenario.
As far as history at the superfast track of MIS goes, they are all past winners. However, Newman has the edge earning two victories to one by Bowyer and Johnson.
In regards to the overall points, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch returned to the top spot after Watkins Glen last weekend. He is now +13 ahead of Team Penske wheelman Joey Logano in second.
Busch has a single victory at MIS (2011), but the place has not been one of his best with an average finish of 17.9 in 29 starts. That average for him is the second worst mark among the 14 remaining tracks this season.
If you’re looking for a favorite, be sure to give Kevin Harvick a look. He’s won twice at MIS and is the reigning victor of this event. Since punching his ticket to the Playoffs with the New Hampshire win, he’s achieved two top-10 finishes and is showing signs of getting back to his multiple-win groove of 2018.
Raceday is Sunday at 3 p.m. ET and can be seen on NBCSN-TV and heard on MRN Radio.
Dinger the Ringer in Xfinity
AJ Allmendinger returns to the Xfinity Series action with Kaulig Racing this weekend. The massive road-course experienced driver led the most laps at Watkins Glen last Saturday but came up a close second to Austin Cindric. However, post-race inspection showed the back end of his No. 10 Chevrolet was too low and was disqualified.
No biggie, just get back in the car and win this weekend to redeem yourself, right? Maybe. But, another road course ace is jumping into a car for JR Motorsports to give Allmendinger a challenge. The driver-turned-broadcaster-turned-driver will make his first start of the season.
There are six races to go until the Playoffs start and six drivers have solidified their place. That leaves six positions open to fill the 12-car Championship Contenders field. Will six more winners do that, or will it be filled by points…or a combination of both?
Neither Allmendinger or Smith are championship points eligible, so if they win that leaves five races left for five drivers to win and get in.
The Big Three of Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick have dominated the series with 13 wins in 20 starts. The past two events have been the only back-to-back races one of them haven’t won with Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric earning those victories.
The 2.25-mile, 13-turn, multi-elevation road course of Mid-Ohio could be a deciding factor to see who gets in with the win on Saturday afternoon.
Race time is 3 p.m. ET, airing on NBCSN-TV and MRN Radio.
Trucks Trekking at MIS
The Gander Outdoor Series has one race left and one position open for their Playoffs. Stewart Friesen FINALLY earned his first victory series and checked himself in to the “Playoff Palace” to contend for a championship last week at Eldora Speedway.
Grant Enfinger, though winless in 2019, is the points leader and gets in by simply starting the race on Saturday. This leaves only one opportunity for one other driver to become part of the Championship.
Points contenders Ben Rhodes and Harrison Burton are separated by one marker going into MIS. Whoever bests the other gets in, unless someone out of the picture wins the race. Then, they are both left looking back at would could have been in 2019.
Race fans get a double header on Saturday with the green flag at 1 p.m. ET, airing on FS1-TV and MRN Radio before switching over at 3 p.m. for the Xfinity race.