MIS notes: Truex sees his fortunes changing
Brooklyn, Mich.— Martin Truex Jr. was the hottest driver in the Sprint Cup series the previous time the drivers visited Michigan International Speedway in June.
Truex Jr. struggled at times since that early summer visit — 42nd at Sonoma, 38th at Daytona and 17th at Kentucky right after MIS — and the changes in the rules package played a part.
Truex's crew chief, Cole Pearn, was pleased to learn NASCAR will be using the original 2015 rules package — which included a reduction of horsepower to 725 from approximately 850 and rear spoiler adjustment to 6 inches from 8 in 2014 — for the Chase, which gets underway next month.
Prior to the June race, Truex Jr. ended his 69-race winless streak with a victory at Pocono and sat third in points. His 13 top-10 finishes in 14 races made him just the fourth driver in Sprint Cup history to accomplish that feat, joining defending series champion Kevin Harvick this season and Hall of Famers Richard Petty (1969) and his father Lee Petty (1954, '59).
"I am since this has created so much work it's unbelievable," said Pearn of the ever-changing rules moving back to the original plan. "I think everybody's wives and families will be the happiest because every week we've run these different packages and it's like you're just leaving for Daytona (the season-opener), it's just so, so much work.
"That's just it, you did all your off-season work, everything, all your planning based off that package and that's what you optimize everything to and then when it's jockeyed around, then everything that you've done to optimize that original package doesn't necessarily apply and it's just a ton of work and really hard for us to get caught up with."
Truex Jr. flourished with the new 2015 package. The rear spoiler adjustment was 9 inches this weekend, 9 in last month's Brickyard 400 and 31/2 inches at Kentucky.
Truex Jr. had a strong run in the Brickyard (fourth) and an outstanding run again Sunday, finishing third.
"We came a long way from where we were Friday in qualifying," said Truex, who started from the 22nd spot in his Chevrolet. "I felt like at the end of the day yesterday we had a car capable of winning and felt like that all day again today. We struggled to get that track position. It seemed like we kept getting in the wrong lanes on restarts. We really had to work for it today."
Truex left MIS sitting eighth in the standings and solidly in the 16-car Chase field.
The cars of Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski and his Penske teammate Joey Logano failed inspection prior to the race because their splitters, located on front of their cars, were too thick.
The drivers still were able to start from where they qualified and each had top-10 finishes, with Logano finishing seventh and Keselowski ninth.
Logano sits sixth in points with two wins and Keselowski, ninth in the standings with a win.
"It was an OK day, nothing spectacular," said Keselowski who was running fourth near the midway point. "We just never had the speed like the 20 (Kenseth) car had. We made the most of our day in every way we could though. We just needed to be faster, for sure, especially down the straightaways."
So, how did Keselowski feel about the high drag aero package?
"It doesn't matter what my thoughts and observations are, it is what NASCAR wants. Whatever they want to do."
On passing, he said: "It wasn't fun. It wasn't the worst I have ever seen but this package increasingly rewards the car over the driver and I am not a fan of that."
NASCAR officials will decide on Tuesday if the team will face penalties.
When Kevin Harvick woke up on Race Day, a whole different sport was potentially on tap for one of the leaders in the Sprint Cup standings.
And there is plenty of it nearby in Michigan.
"Love hearing Keelan try and convince @KevinHarvick they should go play golf today instead of going racing… #winning," tweeted his wife, DeLana Harvick.
Keelan is Harvick's young son, who woke everyone up bright and early Sunday after his Dad had tweeted and Instagramed from their outing at a local driving range Saturday, amid duties at the track.
"It's actually a great idea!" Harvick tweeted, in response, five hours before the Pure Michigan 400.
At least one fan was encouraging, despite the pending preparations for the race: "And you could probably play the full 18 2x before the race actually starts."
Love and racing
Roger Curtis, the president of Michigan International Speedway, emphasizes a family atmosphere with lots of activities surrounding race weekends that do not always have a heck of a lot to do with racing.
A few years ago, when he noticed fans trying to arrange for weddings at the track and sometimes having trouble getting clergy or secular officials, Curtis went online and got ordained.
Now he does one marriage every race weekend, and it raises money for MIS Cares, the official charity of the track.
This weekend, it was a bit different. NASCAR fans Karen and Dave Hastings of Brussels, Ontario, renewed their wedding vows on their 50th anniversary, with Curtis presiding.
The couple, who have attended races at MIS for 20 years, brought all their children and grandchildren to the ceremony.
It was the first time the entire Hastings family has been to MIS together.
They wore "bride" and "groom" T-shirts to the wedding.
"Oh, we love it here," Dave Hastings said. "The first time I came here, I was hooked. It used to be a boys' trip, and somewhere along the way, the girls started joining us. There's no place we would rather be in the summer, and to get to spend it with our family has been unbelievable."