This week, the NASCAR crowd heads to Michigan Speedway. With four races to go before the Playoffs begin at Richmond, the intensity has ramped up heading into the race. Here are the five best stories to follow this week.
Getting In The Playoffs
The Playoff berths are limited, with just sixteen offered and 38 entrants for this race. Ryan Newman and Jimmy Johnson come into the weekend tied for sixteenth in points, but Johnson has the tiebreaker with a higher best finish this year. Only twelve points ahead of them is Clint Bowyer, but he has hope for this weekend. He said, "In the end, we have to keep our wits about ourselves, do our job, and know that there's a whole bunch of racing left."
Two Michigan natives are starting the race - Erik Jones and Brad Keselowski. Keselowski hopes for a win this weekend, with a start from the pole. He's already locked in the Playoffs, but another win would bring the Championship much closer. Starting 16th, Jones hopes that his Toyota can find speed in the race. He was fast in the practices, with some of the fastest times. Jones wants to keep his four-race top-10 momentum going to secure him a Playoffs berth.
The Toyotas were fast in the practices, but struggled to find speed in qualifying. Not one broke into the final round of twelve cars. Their best starting position is Denny Hamlin's 14th. However, qualifying is not entirely indicative of the race speed, and perhaps the Toyotas are better suited for long runs. The Fords and Chevys are in better position to win from the start, though.
Keeping the Streak
Ford has won the last three of the races in Detroit's backyard. They're looking to do it for the fourth consecutive time this year. Before the Ford streak, Chevrolet accumulated three straight victories and would like to set off on a streak again. Toyota hopes that their cars can find speed and can win in the home of American manufacturing.
Before the NASCAR Monster Energy Series Championship, there's the regular season champion to be crowned. Joey Logano and Kyle Busch have been fighting for it all season. With a strong 11th-place at the Watkins Glen road course, Busch has the advantage. However, neither driver has been particularly strong in practice or qualifying. Logano will roll off eighth and Busch will start far back in 22nd.