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Michigan drivers Brad Keselowski, Erik Jones among fastest at Michigan International Speedway

Posted On Sunday, 11 August 2019 18:51 Written by
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Michigan native Brad Keselowski won the pole to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 with a speed of 190.471 MPH. Michigan native Brad Keselowski won the pole to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 with a speed of 190.471 MPH. Photo by Matt Myftiu/AutoTechReviews.com

BROOKLYN, Mich. — A hometrack race just means more.

And for Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones, who both cut their teeth at local Michigan tracks including Waterford Hills, that home track in the Cup series is Michigan International Speedway.

Neither has won a Cup race at MIS (in fact, no Michigan-born driver has won a Cup race at MIS), but this might be the weekend that changes. Both are very fast so far this weekend. 

Keselowski’s speed came through in qualifying Friday, when he went out last in qualifying and beat everyone with a speed of 190.471 MPH. He previously won the pole at MIS in August 2017.

 “I think the track was in really good shape,. I don't know if there was anything that really favored us, mostly it was just the team doing a great job with the preparation and executing a flawless lap driving the car. Most of the credit goes to my team for sure.”

Being at MIS, the pressure is high for Keselowski, who is from Rochester Hills. In his 20 starts at MIS, he has two 2nd-place finishes, and three 3rd-place finishes, but has never seen the checkered flag first with his Penske Ford. 

“This race track means a lot to me for a lot of reasons. With family and friends and being my home track, closest to my home, you just want to impress. You want to do a good job in front of your family. You want to kind of show them what you are made of and make them proud. That does put a lot of pressure on yourself and I think most drivers would say they fall into that category. At the end, I look at it now and I made my Cup debut here 10 years ago and I look at those times now and I think of how fortunate I was to make it in the sport. It was a much more difficult time to be a rookie in Cup than it is now. But I am still thankful I had that opportunity and could make it to this position.”


Erik Jones — a native of Byron, Mich. — is much earlier in his career at the Cup level than Keselowski, but is also quite eager to get a win at MIS. He has a good chance to do so, as he was fastest in final practice this weekend in his Joe Gibbs Toyota.


“It’s a good feeling. We have good speed. I feel like the speed has always been there these first two practices. We’ve got some work to do to get the DeWalt Camry the rest of the way to where I feel like we can win,” Jones said. “We are close, but we’ve got to get some track position back from qualifying. Get back up front, get the handling where we want it. I think we will be in a good spot.”

Jones said the PJ1 that has been placed on the track at MIS may have an impact on the race today and how restarts look.

“I think (it will have an impact). Pocono in Turn 1, I was able to use (the PJ1) quite a bit on some outside lane restarts and make some good moves, make it three-wide on the top side. I think you will see it a lot in that scenario, even from the first start of the race,” Jones said.
 

Jones said a win would be the highlight of his career. 

“It would rank right up top of wins for me. Winning a Cup race here is a big goal of mine and a dream of mine. I would love to be able to do it this week. We’ve been on a great roll this last month and to close it out with a win here would be pretty perfect,” he explained. “I feel like we have a really good car here again this weekend with enough speed to do it. It’s just going to be a matter of getting in the right spot.”

Other notes:
• Martin Truex Jr. will make his 500thcareer Cup series start today at MIS:


“I’m getting old! It’s cool. I have been lucky to have a great career and have worked with a lot of great teams and drive a lot of great cars and win a lot of races. It’s been fun. Hopefully, we can keep it going for a couple hundred more, I don’t know about 500. It’s been crazy to see how long we have been around. Pretty cool.”


• Bill Eilliott won 7 races at MIS. His son Chase is going for his first win here, and would be happy to join his dad in the list of winners in Brooklyn, Mich.:


“That would be great. I haven’t won enough to be picky. So, anywhere is good for me and anytime sounds good too. This is definitely a frustrating place because we’ve had some really close runs here. I’ve had a couple of great opportunities that I pretty much threw in the trash can over there in the corner and I would love to try to finish some of those days off.”


• Austin Cindric claimed his second win in a row in the Xfinity series on Saturday at Mid-Ohio, taking the checkered ahead of Christopher Bell and AJ Allmendinger.

Among the ringers in the race was open-wheel driver Jack Hawksworth, who drove the #18 for Joe Gibbs Racing in his first-ever stock car race:

“I enjoyed it. We had a lot of fun out there,” Hawksworth said. “Some good battles at the beginning. The first stint, kind of struggled with the rear tires a little bit and second stint we made it a little bit better and was able to come through on those restarts and get it to the lead. Felt pretty good about it and then I think we had a little issue on one of the pit stops and kind of put us back there. Then we got grass in the grill on one of the restarts and kind of lost the brakes and that was a little ‘all she wrote.’ I had a great time.”

• Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman led the Chevys in final practice at MIS:


“I think our car is really good. We’ve had good speed since we’ve unloaded and good stability. That first run, in final practice, we were really strong. We kind of waited a little bit to try to get with a pack for the end of practice. We just got too tight there at the end. We made some adjustments and got the car on the splitter pretty badly. We’ll undo that and go racing.”

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Matt Myftiu can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu. Follow AutoTechReviews.com on Twitter @AutoTechReview. 

 

 

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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