For two straight Cup races now, the order in which drivers crossed the finish line didn’t reflect official results.
Will Michigan buck the trend?
The NASCAR Cup Series arrives at Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday. The race’s green flag will drop a little after 3 p.m. and be broadcast on USA Network with radio coverage from MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR radio.
The two-mile, 200-lap, D-shaped track offers a return to normalcy after two wild weeks of racing: The first week, at the “Tricky Triangle” at Pocono, made decades worth of history when top finishers of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch (both of Joe Gibbs Racing) were pushed to the back of the pack after their cars failed post-race inspection. The second, at the perilous 14-turn Indy road course, saw Ross Chastain cross the finish line second but doing so only after using the access road and avoiding Turn 1 entirely in overtime, a move NASCAR later deemed illegal to the tune of a 30-second penalty.
Will MIS see something similar?
Drivers have since weighed in on the penalty-defined Cup races. Brad Keselowski, part-owner of Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing who commands the No. 6 car, told local media earlier this week that he doesn’t know what to expect out of the race in Michigan. But he added that NASCAR “needs more penalties” and that “the sport needs to be handing them out like candy right now to get control of the garage.”
“The reality is that NASCAR is setting precedents that needed to be set,” he said on Tuesday, “that we support being set, that are important to the future of our industry.”
Other drivers have shared similar sentiments. On the Door Bumper Clear podcast, Hamlin said that he expects more penalties will be levied this season: “I think they’ve set a precedent,” Hamlin said of NASCAR on the podcast hosted by Casey Boat and veteran spotters Brett Griffin, T.J. Majors and Freddie Kraft. “I’ll say this: Hopefully others get DQ’ed this year. I believe that that will be the case. I think that they’re really laying down the law here.”
In qualifying on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, Mich., Bubba Wallace took the pole for the first time in his career. He’ll lead the pack on Sunday alongside Christopher Bell and just in front of Kyle Busch — all three of whom are driving Toyotas.
Kurt Busch, for a third straight week, will not race after sustaining a concussion in a crash during qualifying at Pocono Raceway. Ty Gibbs will replace him in the Toyota for 23XI Racing for his third Cup series start.
Kyle Busch and his family reportedly were in Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis on Thursday evening when someone fired gunshots. The family escaped safely, per the social media of Busch’s wife, Samantha.
Ryan Blaney won the last time the Cup Series descended on MIS, and Kevin Harvick has won there five times in his career.
The 200-lap track has its three stages ending in Lap 45, Lap 120 and Lap 200.
How to watch NASCAR race at Michigan
Race: FireKeepers Casino 400
Distance: 400 miles, 200 laps
Where: Michigan International Speedway
When: 3 p.m.
TV: USA Network
Radio: Sirius XM NASCAR Radio
Starting lineup: FireKeepers Casino 400
Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.