Nascar Exclusive Race Report

Stewart-Haas Race Report:
Michigan International Speedway|6/18/2017

Greg Zipadelli|Vice President of Competition, Stewart-Haas Racing

Friday: Practice and Qualifying

“Our Friday practice seemed OK. All of our cars were pretty fast. With the weather looking iffy for Saturday, we switched over to race trim early to make sure we had time to work on the balance of our cars.

“The weather changed a bunch Friday. It was sunny and hot early and then the clouds came in from the storm and the speeds picked up a bunch. Our teams adjusted for the weather.

“We had a couple cars in top-10 in qualifying, one just out of it and one in the middle of the pack. Overall, it was a decent day. That allowed us to start the race in clean air and get decent pit stall selections.”

“We always want to qualify well, but in Pocono, if you start in the top-five or top-10, you are going to run a couple tenths to a half second faster than the rest of the cars because of clean air. Those cars back in traffic are going to struggle with aerodynamic issues. That’s hard to overcome.

“All of our cars advanced out of the first round and two of our cars ended up in the top-12. I still think we are off in overall speed. It seems like the Toyotas have found some speed in the last couple of weeks.”

Saturday: Practice

“We just wanted to get two good solid practices in Saturday. The first practice started at 9 a.m., so it was unrealistic to set your car up in those temperatures for a 3:15 p.m. race on Sunday. The second practice started close to noon and was more realistic to what we expected race conditions to be like.”

Sunday: Race

“Kevin’s (Harvick) and Kurt’s (Busch) cars had to start at the back because of an unapproved adjustment before the race, so that created some extra work for those two. We had good speed and everyone seemed to move to the front. We were looking decent for most of the race, but Clint (Bowyer) and Danica (Patrick) both hit the wall on the restarts with less than 20 laps to go. Kevin ended up 14th and Kurt 12th. Not what we wanted, but OK.

“The tricky part at Michigan is figuring out the race pace. We turn our fastest qualifying speeds of the season at Michigan, but the challenge is figuring out how much the race pace slows during the race. If you know how much you will slow down, you can better set up your heights and bump stop loads correctly. Our pace was good, but you just couldn’t pass except on the restarts.

“It was a tough race on a one-lane track with no grip, where nobody can pass anybody. It’s really frustrating. Then you get a restart and drivers feel like it’s the only opportunity to pass and there’s no give-and-take so you get the wrecks that involved two of our cars. I don’t know if anyone did anything wrong today. It’s just the nature of this track and this type of racing.”