Michigan International Speedway has big plans for 2019 NASCAR races

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Kevin Harvick poses for photos after winning the race at MIS in August 2018.

Michigan International Speedway celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and will showcase its 100th NASCAR race next month on the circuit’s fastest track with the running of the FireKeepers Casino 400 on June 9.

Defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion Joey Logano has enjoyed success at MIS, winning twice during his first six years with Team Penske, the last one coming in June 2016.

Logano visited the White House Tuesday, along with team owner Roger Penske, who President Trump called “a friend of mine for a long time.”

“I’ve watched you from business to racing to ownership of cars and I just watch you have victory after victory,” Trump said. “No matter what you do, it turns to gold. So keep doing it for a long time to come. It’s an amazing achievement what you’ve done.”

While Logano had a day to remember, Penske will have a busy month of May with his 50th year at the Indianapolis 500, followed by his trip to Detroit for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle May 31-June 2, then on to the NASCAR race at MIS.

Kyle Larson will be at MIS trying to put an end to a tough 2019 start. He has just two top-10 finishes in 10 races, along with a last-lap wreck at Talladega on Sunday when his No. 42 Chevrolet was involved in a multi-car crash, went airborne and flipped several times. Remarkably, Larson escaped injury.

Kyle Larson

Larson won his first career race at MIS in August 2016, then swept the two races at the two-mile superspeedway in 2017, so this could be his turnaround.

Fans can take part in a race day morning question and answer session with Larson. The cost is $76 for adults and $38 for children, including a reserved ticket, pit and driver introduction pass, and the Q&A, which gets underway at 10:30 a.m.

There will be a Q&A session with Michigan driver Erik Jones during the August race.

Jones is looking for his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race win at MIS, as is Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski, who won the series championship in 2012.

Keselowski, a Team Penske teammate of Logano’s, is competing in the new Ford Mustang, and already owns wins at Atlanta and Martinsville.

MIS will show off its new four-sided 150-foot high scoreboard located in the infield. It has 12-foot high by 19-foot wide video screens at the bottom to show replays.

MIS president Rick Brenner has high hopes for the 2019 races.

“We moved the Acceleration Club from Turn 4 to inside Pit Road and we now have a 12-foot by 200-foot deck overlooking Pit Road and an 80-by-180 air-conditioned tent, and the drivers meeting will take place in that room so those guests get to experience that as well,” said Brenner, who is in his third year as president of MIS. “That’s been a home run, people are really flocking to that opportunity.

“We’ve also switched up our free Saturday night concerts, mixing up country music, ‘80s-type music and a little more classic rock. In June, we have Lover, Theft, Warrant and Loverboy, so that’s a unique combination and free with a Sunday ticket. August has Sawyer Brown, Skid Row and Grand Funk Railroad, and Grand Funk Railroad is a Flint band and celebrating its 50th anniversary, so we’re really excited to be a part of that as well.”

Brenner said MIS also has a new medical center in the infield; it will be ready for the August race.

“Henry Ford Allegiance Hospital in Jackson has come on board as a partner of that, and they are also providing free pit passes for all kids 12-and-under who attend races,” Brenner said.

Regular tickets range from $39 to $145. An Acceleration Club membership ($550) includes breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days of race weekend, plus all activities, including the drivers meeting and driver interviews.

Brenner also said there will be concerts all weekend long throughout the race campgrounds, and campers can also watch movies – “Bumblebee” on Thursday of the June race and “Incredibles 2” on Thursday of the August race.

MIS in 2019

FireKeepers Casino 400

When: 2 p.m., Sunday, June 9


Support races: ARCA Menards Series 200, Friday, June 7, 6:30 p.m.; NASCAR Xfinity Series LTi Printing 250, Saturday, June 8, 1:30 p.m.

Consumers Energy 400

When: 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 11


Support race: NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Corrigan Oil 200, Saturday, 1 p.m.