Raceday: Your guide to Sunday's Quicken Loans 400

jutter@charlotteobserver.comJune 15, 2013 

Three things to watch

1 . Dale Earnhardt Jr. returns to the site of his most recent Sprint Cup Series win, Michigan International Speedway. In fact, his only Cup wins in the past five years have come at the 2-mile oval.

2. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have won three of the last six Cup races at Michigan, which could bode well for Matt Kenseth, who already has three wins this season.

3 . Jimmie Johnson also has three wins this season, a large lead in the series standings and has been fast in practice all weekend.

Observations

• While there may have been something lacking in his presentation, Brad Keselowski's comments about an unwillingness to share information with other Ford teams because of the possibility team members could be hired by other teams to "steal information" is not without merit. In fact, the practice has been going on as long as I've been covering NASCAR. For all practical purposes, if your team needs to get better, you have two choices - find the answer yourself or find someone else who has it. It's not a novel concept.

• One fact that seems to escape many people who clamor for Sprint Cup drivers to stop competing in the Nationwide Series is the lack of competition from top to bottom in Nationwide fields to begin with. Lately, series races haven't even been filling an already-reduced 40-car field. And the level of competition outside the Top 10 - Cup drivers included or not - takes an enormous drop. The quality of racing in the series doesn't need to decrease any more than it already has.

• So far in the first weekend of the driver swap involving JTG/Daugherty Racing and Phoenix Racing, Bobby Labonte has still come out ahead, out-qualifying his regular No. 47 Toyota team in his new ride at Phoenix. Should Labonte finish better than A.J. Allmendinger in the race Sunday as well, and perhaps some will realize the problem with the No. 47 isn't all driver-related.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson

Notes

Leffler services set: A celebration of Jason Leffler's life will be held on Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET at Grace Covenant Church, 17301 Statesville Rd., in Cornelius, N.C.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Charlie Dean Leffler Discretionary Trust, care of SunTrust Bank, 232 Williamson Rd., Mooresville, NC 28117.

Leffler, who had a more than decades-long career in NASCAR, was killed June 12 in a wreck while driving a winged sprint car at a dirt track in New Jersey.

NHRA star takes another (left) turn: NHRA Top Fuel driver Antron Brown tested his command of left turns Friday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. In town for the NHRA Ford Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, Brown completed a 20-lap run in a Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure car that was previously run in the Nationwide Series.

"That was so much fun," he said. "The car drove great, but it took me a few laps to get the feel for the track and what line to take. This was my second time running laps at Bristol but my first time in a true stock car, and it was an awesome experience."

Dad's deal at NASCAR Hall: The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte is offering free admission with the purchase of a second admission to the first 103 dads who visit the attraction on Sunday. Tickets to the NASCAR Hall of Fame can be purchased by calling (877) 231-2010 or at nascarhall.com..

Poole wins ARCA race: Brennan Poole earned his his fourth career win in the Automobile Racing Club of America series, winning the Patriot Pumps 200 Friday at Michigan International Speedway. Poole grabbed the lead with 12 laps to go, and then had to stave off a challenge from NASCAR Truck regular Ryan Blaney for the win.

Race facts

Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.

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

Race distance: 200 laps, 400 miles

Weather: High in the low 80s with a 40 percent chance of a thunderstorm.

TV: Coverage begins at noon on TNT. Green flag is 1:16 p.m. ET

Radio: Motor Racing Network



Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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