Pure Michigan 400 (Michigan) | Bonehead Picks

Pure Michigan 400 (Michigan)

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The road course portion of the 2017 Monster Energy season is offiicially in the books as we now head to one of the few two mile tracks that is just as fast as a restrictor plate race but doesn’t require one (at least not yet by NASCAR standards anyway). From this point forward towards the playoffs, it is ovals all the way big or small, and it all starts at Michigan International Speedway. This will be the 97th Monster Energy race run overall as there are 12 active winners among the field.

Among the 12, Kyle Larson has won the last two overall, the last one from the pole but has since fell from the wayside and lost sight of the regular season points lead. Within the last seven races, even with two second place finishes, one was encumbered due to failing postrace inspection at Kentucky. In between, Larson had other penalties follow him around losing his pole position at Loudon and to make things worse, has finished 23rd or worst during that stretch. Michigan is the perfect place to turn his bad luck around.

For three time winner Matt Kenseth, he almost tasted victory at Watkins Glen last week finishing behind Martin Truex Jr, but during the Joe Gibbs Racing team surge appears to be on his way to getting at least one more win for his current boss. Kenseth won this race from the pole two years ago and with three top fives in the last four in 2017, looks to become driver number 14 to punch his ticket into the postseason. Kenseth’s winless streak now runs at 39 going back to Dover in 2016.

With perhaps the best streak of top tens at Michigan, it is also the perfect opportunity for Joey Logano to make up for encumbered win at Richmond. Since losing his playoff win, Logano has only three top tens along with a recent streak of five consecutive finishes of 21st or worst. In at least three starts or more, Logano has the third best average finish among active drivers (12.1), and since joining Team Penske in 2013 the average has been way better. A third Michigan win will raise in higher.

It will be the 36th and final go around for another two time winner Dale Earnhardt Jr, finishing ninth earlier in the season at Michigan. Since his 2012 Spring win, Dale has six top tens in the last nine races. But in the last six races in 2017 however, Dale has finishes of 12th or worst, crashing in three of them. Even with Kasey Kahne’s win at Indianapolis, almost the entire team has went into a summer slump and winning one last time at Michigan could get Hendrick rolling again.

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