Racing is back in the Irish Hills of Michigan, for today’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series “Consumers Energy 400” at Michigan International Speedway.

The fastest track on the circuit allowed speeds approaching 220mph entering turns 1 and 3 during qualifying and practice, and speeds are expected to be high in the race as well.

Those high speeds present opportunities for engine failures, so that will be something to keep an eye on in today’s race. Another point to watch for is whether or not multiple racing lines are available. In years past, the bottom is the only place to go for good speed and that has eliminated passing opportunities.

Of local note, former Detroit Piston Ben Wallace is the honorary pace car driver for today’s race. Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills) and Erik Jones (Byron) are the only Michiganders in the field today.

The Race

Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI

2-mile D-shaped oval

200 laps = 400 miles

Green Flag: 2:46pm eastern

Stages End: lap 60, lap 120, lap 200

Coverage: NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM

The Field

Denny Hamlin posted the fastest time during Friday’s qualifying session, covering 2 miles in 35.504 seconds. The field is relatively evenly matched though, as the 17 quickest cars in qualifying all had times within half a second of Hamlin’s.

Hamlin will start alongside Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, and fellow teammate Erik Jones will start fourth. Sandwiched in there amongst the JGR Toyotas is Kevin Harvick, starting third.

Saturday featured two practice sessions, though the first one was scrapped after only 15 minutes due to heavy fog the presented a safety concern.

Joey Logano had the fastest time in an extended final practice, making up for lost time due to the foggy conditions earlier.

40 cars entered the event, so all will start.

Full starting lineup from NASCAR, via Jayski.com.

The Odds

VegasInsider.com predictably has “The Big Three” picked as favorites to win today’s race, even though the last time one of them won at Michigan was Kyle Busch in August of 2011.

Harvick leads the group at 11/4 odds, while Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. are at 13/4 each. Next behind them are three-time MIS winner Kyle Larson at 7/1 and Brad Keselowski at 9/1.

Last August at MIS

The best stock car drivers in the world were pretty tame last August at MIS, racing caution-free for the first two stages of the race. Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano started on the front row, with Keselowski leading the first 42 laps and ultimately capturing the first stage.

Stage two featured another 44 lap stint at the front for Keselowski, before varying pit strategies shuffled Martin Truex, Jr. to the lead and the stage two win.

Then after the restart for the final stage, Kasey Kahne and Daniel Suarez collided in turn two for the race’s first caution by accident.

Debris spotted on the backstretch at lap 186 brought out the caution flag once more, which everyone thought would set up a sprint to the finish. But with three laps remaining Paul Menard and Michael McDowell got into each other and forced an overtime finish.

A daring move by Kyle Larson on the overtime restart wowed everyone at the track and watching at home, en route to his third consecutive win in Michigan.

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Braxton Crisp

Braxton Crisp

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