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Citizen’s Bank 400 Preview

Posted by Matt on June 17, 2007

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The NASCAR Preview makes it’s triumphant return on this Father’s Day with a prayer that it isn’t a Hendrick boy in victory lane come 5:00PM EST today.  Question: if Dale Earnhardt, Junior wins today, does that somehow continue the Hendrick Motor Sports dominance this season in a weird sort of way?  Regardless of what owner really gets accredited with his wins, do not count Junior out as he now has his contract issues behind him and can focus strictly on the race-at-hand.  I am not calling a win for Earnhardt and Company, but he will post a strong showing.  Look for “Little E.” to be in the Top 10 by the time the Checkered Flag drops.  Junior starts in the 23rd position.

The Citizen’s Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway is bit of a tough race to break down as it doesn’t follow some of the normal patterns of the other NASCAR tracks.  There also wasn’t a Busch Series race there last night so we didn’t see how most of the boys fared in a tune up race at this track.  There hasn’t been a repeat winner at this race at all in the past six years, or has there been a season sweep in both the races at this track since Bobby Labonte in 1995, and it hasn’t been a place that has seen much in the way of Hendrick Motor Sports domination.  The last from the Hendrick stable to win this race was Jeff Gordon in 2001.  Chevrolets, oddly enough, haven’t fared too well either and haven’t posted a win in either Michigan International Speedway races of the season since, again, Jeff Gordon in 2001.  Yet a Chevrolet has one 13 of 14 races this season and Hendrick Motor Sports have won 10 of those 13.  Without Hendrick power in Victory Lane since 2001 and a Chevrolet not taking the Checkered Flag in the past 11 races at this track, Michigan International Speedway is the Bermuda Triangle of NASCAR.

Greg Biffle has won two of the last five races, Summer and Fall, here at Michigan International Speedway and Matt Kenseth won the last race at this track last August.  Greg Biffle starts in the 19th position and Matt Kenseth has a little tougher task at hand starting from the 26th spot.  Kenseth does, however, have a lot of statistics working for him.  On top of winning the last race at this track, in his 15 starts at Michigan, Matt Kenseth has the highest average finishing position of all active drivers at 7.9.  Kenseth is also one of only four non-Hendrick drivers to win a race this season in 14 races and is the lone non-Chevrolet victor of the season;  Kenseth’s one win came at California Speedway at the Auto Club 500 in Week 2 of the season.  California Speedway is very similar to Michigan International Speedway and they’re considered by some to be “sister tracks,” this bodes well for Kenseth and the Fords. 

Look for a Ford to wind up in Winner’s Circle on Victory lane today at the Citizen’s Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway, and it is only fitting near the original home of Ford in Michigan.

Here is the starting grid: Citizen’s Bank 400

Predictions:

Winner: Matt Kenseth – #17 DeWalt Ford – Roush Racing

Others To Watch For:

Greg Biffle – #16 Ameriquest Ford – Roush Racing (races strong at M.I.S. with 2 wins in last 5 races)

David Gilliland – #38 M&M’s Ford – Robert Yates Racing (two Top 10s in only two career races at M.I.S. last season)

Jeff Gordon – #24 DuPont Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports (won last week at Pocono Raceway, has been too hot this season to discount)

Most Laps Lead: Jimmie Johnson – #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports

Makes 300th Career Start: Elliot Sadler – #19 Dodge Dealers Dodge – Valvoline Evernham Racing

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