The NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit moves to Brookland, MI this weekend for the second of two Cup races at MIS for the year. My picks below:
17-Kenseth- winner - Matt, like the other Roush Fords, is good at MIS. He won this race last year and was strong in June. I happen to think that Matt Kenseth is the master of mile and a half tracks, and as soon as Roush gets its COT program up to speed (pardon the pun) I think he is due another championship.
48- Johnson- never won at Michigan (which is an amazing stat in itself) but is good at these cookie cutter tracks, generally speaking. I think he'll be in the top ten, but I doubt he'll win.
20- Stewart- has also never won at MIS, but he is HOT right now. I don't know that he'll make it four out of five (he might), but I definately see him in the top 10 on Sunday.
12- Newman- won back to back races at Michigan in 03 and 04. He needs a good run to get firmly back into the Chase hunt. I see the 12 in the top 10.
2- Busch- will also be in the top 10. He is in 12th with a mildly comfortable 100 point cushion. He knows how to get around Michigan, and given his new, so far very effective pairing with crew chief Tryson, will be in the thick of the Michigan race.
8- Earnhardt Jr. - has has terrible luck recently and will have to experience great luck to clich a Chase berth. However, he has finished top 6 in his last three MIS starts. If he is going to gain enough points on Busch to get a Chase spot, it will have to start this weekend. Another bad finish will put him out of the playoffs for good.
24 - Gordon- has been in the top 10 in an incredible 20 of 22 races this year. I can't bet against that, much as I would like to.
16 - Biffle- will be in the top 10. He is another member of the Roush squad who does very well at the cookie cutters. He has been off lately, but there have been signs of life in his team.
99 - Edwards - won the June Michigan race. Another Roushie. I am sure that he will be in the top ten, and could very well be the repear winner.
31 - Burton - JB is the best mile and a halfer in the Childress garage, and he is a very good points racer. I am sure he will post a top ten finish.
Pretty safe list, but I think I should have at least 6 or 7 right out of these lists. Statistics are very powerful predictors of finishes in these intermediate races. Ironically, the ones that I feel the least sure of are the three who each need strong finishes here vis a vis the Chase: the 12, 2, and 8.