NASCAR: Quicken Loans 400 preview

June 14, 2014 

  • Race facts

    Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.

    Track type: 2-mile paved, slightly banked tri-oval

    Race distance: 200 laps or 400 miles

    Weather: Mostly sunny with a high near 80.

    TV: Coverage begins at Noon ET on TNT. Green flag is 1:18 p.m.

    Radio: Motor Racing Network

Kahne wants to remain at Hendrick

Kasey Kahne wants to remain at Hendrick Motorsports beyond his current contract which ends after the 2015 season but he knows he has work to do to make that happen.

HMS announced this weekend that sponsor Farmer’s Insurance had re-signed through 2017 but did not extend Kahne’s contract at the same time.

“We still have a year-and-a-half before my deal’s up. We’ve struggled some this year for really no reason. We can’t have that,” Kahne said.

“If we can get rid of some of those struggles, I would hope that I would be at Hendrick Motorsports for a long time.”

Kahne is the only HMS driver without a win this season and is 22nd in the series standings with just one top-five finish.

“I like being at HMS. It is just an unbelievable place,” he said. “Getting to work with the three teammates that I get to work with each week is better than anything I’ve ever done in racing as far as guys I’ve been able to work with.”

Notebook

Join NASCAR’s Father’s Day initiative:NASCAR, Goodyear, 3M and Ford have teamed up to create the “NASCAR with DAD” sweepstakes. Fans can enter for a chance to win a Goodyear blimp ride for two above Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The experience includes $500 travel cash and hospitality, and a driver meet-and-greet. Fans can also win one of 10 NASCAR Racing Experience prize packages.

Fans can enter the sweepstakes by going to www.nascar.com/NASCARwithDad through11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

Practice update:Rookie Kyle Larson, who has been strong all weekend, was fastest in Saturday’s final practice session with an average laps speed of 198.424 mph. Jeff Gordon was second and pole-winner Kevin Harvick third. Jimmie Johnson was fastest in Saturday’s morning session.

Testing at Indy:Six Cup teams are expected to participate in a test session Monday and Tuesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Drivers expected to attend are Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer.

Three things to watch

1. Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won the past four points-paying races in the Cup series. The last time HMS drivers won five in a row was in the 2007 season.

2. Greg Biffle has won two of the last three Michigan races, including this race one year ago.

3. Juan Pablo Montoya, now a fulltime driver in the IndyCar Series, will make one of his two planned starts in NASCAR this weekend for Team Penske.

Observations

• A second win from Dale Earnhardt Jr. has suddenly turned the talk from him just making the Chase to perhaps be a legitimate contender for his first Sprint Cup Series championship. So far this season, I would say Earnhardt has perhaps as good a chance to make that happen since he was one of five drivers with a mathematical chance to win the title going into the season finale in 2004 – the first year of the Chase. Earnhardt’s confidence has never been higher and combined with a new Chase format and the fact this is the last year for Earnhardt’s crew chief, Steve Letarte, why wouldn’t the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team go for broke the moment the Chase began?

• In no other professional sport do you get to witness the up-close family relationships of the participants like in NASCAR, whether it’s drivers’ family members simply being around the track on race weekends, or in the case of many, having kids who are also involved in the sport while their parents are still competing. That makes a holiday like Father’s Day even more special at the race track.

•  Roush Fenway Racing has the most wins at Michigan in the Cup series with 13: Mark Martin (four), Greg Biffle (four), Carl Edwards (two), Matt Kenseth (two) and Kurt Busch (one). The organization could definitely use one this weekend as it has struggled somewhat out of the gate this year. Edwards is the only driver in the current three-team lineup with a victory.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy racing team:

Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson

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