NASCAR Notes – Michigan Preview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 12, 2007) ? As a team owner, Jack Roush has been to Victory Lane nine times at Michigan International Speedway, second all-time to the Wood Brothers? 11 wins at the two-mile oval. If there was ever a time when his Roush Fenway Racing teams were looking for a repeat performance, then this Father?s Day weekend certainly fits the bill.

Two members of the Roush Fenway team ? Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford) and Greg Biffle (No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford) ? have each won twice at Michigan. Kenseth also has six top fives and 10 top-10 showings at Michigan, while Biffle has four top fives and six top-10 finishes, in addition to his two wins.

?It’s just a fun track,? Kenseth said. ?You move around and try to find a groove that works for your car, and there’s always a lot of passing there and I think it’s always an exciting race.?

Kenseth has moved up to second in the standings and has been a model of consistency thus far in 2007, with 10 top 10s, six top fives and one win (at California).

?I feel really good about where we’re at,? Kenseth said. ?Obviously we’re in a nice position in points and halfway through I think on the way to the Chase (for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup). I feel pretty comfortable where we’re at in the points, and we’re just working really hard to get our cars better for the end of the year when it really counts.?

While Biffle has struggled to regain his 2005 form, when he finished second in the Chase while winning a series-high six races, Roush Fenway teammate Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) has been a solid fixture in the top 10 for most of 2007. Edwards is currently seventh in the standings.

Will Hendrick Motorsports Continue Its Winning Ways This Week?
Thus far this season, Hendrick Motorsports has won 10 of the 14 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races. Roush Fenway Racing has won just one ? Matt Kenseth at California Speedway.

This weekend?s Citizens Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway might be the perfect opportunity for Roush Fenway to close the gap a little bit.

Roush Fenway has excelled at MIS in the recent past with three wins in the last five races. Kenseth won the second Michigan race last season and Greg Biffle won one apiece in 2004 and 2005. Add Carl Edwards? three top-five finishes in fives races and Roush Fenway has to be optimistic heading into the season?s 15th race.

The three drivers sit at or near the top of a handful of key Loop Data statistics taken over the last two years at Michigan. They rank 1-2-3 in the all-encompassing Driver Rating category. Biffle is first with a 118.1, Kenseth second at 111.3 and Edwards third with a 109.8.

They also hold the top three spots in Average Running Position. Biffle has a 6.527, Edwards has a 7.970 and Kenseth has a 10.208.

Of the three, Biffle has the best numbers. He also sits in first in Fastest Laps Run with 65, Green Flag Speed and Laps in the Top 15 (680).

Edwards ranks second in Laps in the Top 15 with 626 and Kenseth is third with 607.
Additionally, Edwards and Biffle rank 1-2 in Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 while under green). Edwards has 210 Quality Passes and Biffle has 188.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one driver not with Roush Fenway who could also run up front. Earnhardt, who has not won a race since May 6, 2006 (Richmond), has tremendous numbers at Michigan over the last four races. Earnhardt has a Driver Rating of 99.1 (fifth best), Average Running Position of 11.250 (fourth best), 45 Fastest Laps Run (fifth best), 486 Laps in the Top 15 (eighth best) and 176 Quality Passes (third best).

Newman Turning Things Around For No. 12 Dodge Team
Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge) has been one of the hottest drivers on the circuit the past month. Thanks to back-to-back second-place finishes at Dover and Pocono and five top-10 showings over the last six races, Newman has climbed 13 spots in the championship standings over this stretch and is knocking on the door of cracking the Top 12.

Currently in 13th place, Newman trails 12th-place driver Mark Martin (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet) by just 22 points. Newman has won twice at Michigan (2003-04) and is beginning to resemble the Ryan Newman of old, highlighted by his series-best eight victories and 11 poles in 2003, the year he finished a career-best sixth in the championship race.

Newman, the 2002 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, posted four consecutive top-10 finishes from 2002-05, a period in which he won 12 races, had 50 top five and 74 top-10 finishes, and sat on 34 poles.

?The last two weeks at Dover and Pocono have been really good for our team,? Newman said, ?and we know we?re on the cusp of getting that next win and I think these last two weeks, our team has proved that we?re capable of getting there, we just need to complete the deal.?

Newman slumped to an 18th-place finish a year ago, but with new crew chief Mike Nelson at the helm, things are looking up for the South Bend, Ind. native, who goes by the nickname ?Rocketman? for his ability to win the pole.

“I consider Michigan my home track,? Newman said. ?My dad used to take me up there when I was younger to watch the races before NASCAR came to Indianapolis and so it?s got a special meaning to me and it would be great to get my next win there this weekend and give my dad a great Father?s Day gift. We?ve won at this track before and we?re close to doing it again.?

Next Race: Citizens Bank 400
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, June 17
The Time: 2 p.m. (ET)
TV: TNT, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 2-mile oval
Distance: 200 laps/400 miles
Purse: $5,137,383

2006 Winner: Kasey Kahne
2006 Pole: Kasey Kahne

Series Standings
Pos. Driver Pts.
1 J. Gordon 2,249
2 Kenseth 2,007
3 Hamlin 2,002
4 Johnson 1,944
5 J. Burton 1,828
6 Stewart 1,733
7 Edwards 1,710
8 Bowyer 1,659
9 Harvick 1,648
10 Kyle Busch 1,613
11 Truex Jr. 1,597
12 Martin 1,586

Michigan Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (local/ET time): Friday?Practice, 11:30 a.m. ? 1 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:10 p.m.
Saturday?Practice, 10-10:50 a.m.; Final Practice, 1:20 ? 2:20 p.m.

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