Harvick looks ready to take down Michigan

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For the second time this season the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Michigan International Speedway’s wide 2-mile layout with only four races remaining before the Chase field is set.

The one big difference from Sunday’s race and the one run June 14 is the set-up being used by all the teams.

In June, the teams ran the new aero package that was introduced at the beginning of the season. But after seeing some rather boring uncompetitive races on the 1.5-and 2-mile tracks, NASCAR changed some things up for a couple of races just to see if they could slow the cars down while also making the racing better.

At Kentucky, NASCAR mandated a new low-down force package and it turned out to be the best race of the season. At Indianapolis they instituted a high-drag package where they raised the spoiler up three inches and the racing was ordinary to weak.

This week at Michigan they’ll be using that same high drag package from Indianapolis, and we’ll see if the racing will be better. The rain-shortened June race won by Kurt Busch had 17 lead changes among 11 drivers, which looks competitive. Indy saw 16 lead changes among only six drivers.

Kyle Busch ended up winning at Indy with the high drag package, but it was Kevin Harvick who led a race-high 75 of the 164 laps. Harvick’s domination under the regular package was part of the reason NASCAR made changes, but the funny thing is, despite leading so many laps this season, his last win came at Phoenix in March. He’s only got two wins on the year.

However, I think that will change this week with Harvick finally getting back into victory lane. He won there in 2010 and had been runner-up in four straight races until getting shuffled to 29th in the rain delay before the race was called. Harvick led a race-high 63 of the 138 laps.

I’m not going to put as much emphasis in the changes like I did for Kentucky, or even for Indy, so I’ll be keying on the meat and potatoes drivers who have been showing the most horsepower all season. However, over the past eight weeks we’ve seen the Joe Gibbs drivers get to the level Harvick is at while also seeing Hendrick Motorsports drop off a little bit.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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