BROOKLYN, Mich – The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series went back to a more traditional race weekend this week for the Consumers Energy 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). We had one round of practice on Friday followed by qualifying. That’s why Friday’s practice times were practically irrelevant. Saturday had two sessions with everyone taking to the 2-mile, D-shaped oval on race setups.
In those sessions, the top drivers now stand out. Those drivers belong to the Stewart-Haas Racing camp as well as Erik Jones.
Kevin Harvick paced the field in opening practice this morning with a lap of 190.501 mph in his No. 4 Ford. The SHR driver was third in final practice as well with a speed of 188.640 mph in the final session. On the 10 lap average report, Harvick was first and third respectively too. He will roll off second on Sunday with hopes of earning his second win in the last four weeks. Harvick, also has six runner-up finishes on the Irish Hills race track since 2013.
His teammate Clint Bowyer looked next best as he was P6 in both sessions on single lap speeds but 11th and second respectively on the 10 lap averages. Bowyer, has just one top 10 in his last seven MIS starts and only one top five on the season since Memorial Day weekend but he seems to be showing a ton of speed this weekend. He qualified fifth as he and Harvick combined to win both races at Michigan a year ago.
Daniel Suarez finished fourth in June and was 11th and fifth respectively in practice on Saturday. He was fourth and seventh respectively on the 10 lap average chart as well. Suarez, needs a win in a bad way and despite cutting a tire and scrapping the wall in the closing minutes of final practice, his No. 41 Ford looks like a contender.
Aric Almirola is the fourth driver in the group but he’s struggled all weekend.
Joe Gibbs Racing looked strong in the first session of the day 2-4-10-12 but not so much in final practice 1-7-14-23. Erik Jones looks the best out of them with him being fourth and first respectively on Saturday and second and first on the 10 lap averages. He enters this weekend on the heels of four straight top four finishes in his No. 20 Toyota.
Kyle Busch was second in the first practice but 23rd in final practice.
This is it for the series for the weekend other than Sunday’s race.