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FireKeepers Casino 400 Preview: NASCAR Motors On To Michigan

Jay Arnold previews the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway as the regular season winds down.

image via Paul Sancya / AP

After an incredibly long drive from Houston, TX to Richmond, VA, and back for the Cook Out 400 (which you can read all about at Pokatok) – I’m ready to dive right into the FireKeepers Casino 400 preview. However, before we do that, I find it vital to look into the playoff picture once more.

Be sure to check out the Pokatok Festival – coming to Houston April 4-7 2023.

Chris Buescher shocked NASCAR by winning at Richmond and securing his playoff chances. The driver out of Texas looked to be in on points but with a win under his belt, a playoff appearance is now assured. Shall we take a look at the drivers locked in with wins?

2023 Race Winners Headed Into FireKeepers Casino 400

Just four races remain in the NASCAR regular season. So far we have 13 different winners. Of the 13, one driver, Shane Van Gisbergen is not a full-time competitor. That leaves us with 12 drivers with wins. With just four races remaining, the 12 winners have locked themselves into the playoffs.

Kyle Busch, William Byron, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., and Denny Hamlin have all won multiple races. With Buescher’s win at Richmond, he joins Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, Ryan Blaney, and Tyler Reddick as single-race winners.

  • Martin Truex Jr. – Three Wins
  • William Byron – Four Wins
  • Kyle Busch – Three Wins
  • Denny Hamlin – One Win
  • Kyle Larson – Two Wins
  • Ross Chastain – One Win
  • Christopher Bell – One Win
  • Ryan Blaney – One Win
  • Joey Logano – One Win
  • Tyler Reddick – One Win
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – One Win
  • Chris Buescher – One Win

Currently In The Playoffs On Points

Per the NASCAR points four drivers currently qualify by virtue of their points accumulated. Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace, and Michael McDowell all currently sit above the cut line. Harvick with 182 points on the cut line and Keselowski with 151 points on the cut line feel the most secure.

However, should someone below the cut line win, things can shift in a hurry. With two road courses and a superspeedway left, unpredictability abounds. All of the drivers on this list will rest uneasy and hope to secure a win in 2023 before someone else does.

  • Kevin Harvick – 182 Points Above Cut Line
  • Brad Keselowski – 151 Points Above Cut Line
  • Bubba Wallace – 54 Points Above Cut Line
  • Michael McDowell – 18 Points Above Cut Line

Outside Looking In

Ty Gibbs currently sits as the first driver out of the playoffs based on points. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rookie surpass McDowell eventually. AJ Allmendinger also lurks four points behind Gibbs at 22 points below the cut line. With two road courses Dinger has won at remaining, the driver of the #16 Kaulig Chevrolet could be a significant factor – even without a win. Daniel Suárez won his lone cup race back at a road course in 2022.

That doesn’t even consider Chase Elliott, who in spite of the fact he looked to need a win to be in, may now be a points threat at just 40 points back. I am willing to wager that at least one driver currently below the cut line finds themselves in the playoffs. The only question is who.

  • Ty Gibbs – 18 Points Below Cut Line
  • AJ Allmendinger – 22 Points Below Cut Line
  • Daniel Suárez – 34 Points Below Cut Line
  • Chase Elliott – 40 Points Below Cut Line
  • Alex Bowman – 42 Points Below Cut Line
  • Austin Cindric – 64 Points Below Cut Line

One thing is certain, the playoff picture intrigue only increases the closer we get to the regular season finale. Will Michigan see a new winner crowned for the 2023 season?

Entry List

When NASCAR last took on the 2.0-mile oval at Michigan, Kevin Harvick claimed victory with Bubba Wallace finishing second. This year, I’m predicting Bubba to get the job done and secure a playoff berth. Should Wallace win, the playoff picture wouldn’t shake up too much.

I’d expect Harvick to be a factor once again also. At Michigan’s closest comparison, Auto Club Speedway, Harvick finished in the top five. That Auto Club race felt extremely thrilling – I have high hopes that the NextGen cars will produce another exciting race here at Michigan International Speedway.

Be sure to check out the schedule below so you don’t miss any on-track action from Michigan.

Friday 08/04

NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying – 3:05 p.m. CT on USA

Henry Ford Health 200 (ARCA Menard’s Series) – 5:00 p.m. CT on FS1

Saturday 08/05

NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – 12:20 p.m. CT on USA

Cabo Wabo 250 (NASCAR Xfinity Series) – 2:30 p.m. CT on NBC

Sunday 08/06

FireKeepers Casino 400 (NASCAR Cup Series) – 1:30 p.m. CT on USA

Stay locked into Apollo for more NASCAR and F1 Coverage throughout racing season! Follow @CoachJayArnold and @ApolloHOU on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest!

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