Two current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers hail from the great state of Michigan and both will be vying to win their first race at the the two-mile Irish Hills oval this weekend. Rookie Erik Jones has had some past success at MIS in other series, but on the Cup side, he has just one start, a 13th place effort back in June.
Now, with needing a victory in order to make this year’s playoffs, he and his Furniture Row Racing team are going to do everything in their power to take his No. 77 Toyota to victory lane in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN).
The Byron, Michigan native is currently in 18th in the Cup standings, but currently too far out to realistically make the 16 driver field on points alone. That’s why they’re going to be extremely aggressive this weekend.
“We feel like we’ve been pretty aggressive on the strategy pretty much every week and trying to give ourselves the best shot to win,” Jones said via his weekly release. “We’ve still gotten some good finishes out of it, but I definitely feel like we’re more aggressive on strategy than we were the first part of the year. I think when you look at the schedule, we feel like we’ve got some good tracks coming up. Michigan will be a good one for us.
“We’re not looking for top 10’s, we’re looking to go out there and snag a win.
Despite being raised just 70 miles north of the Brooklyn track, Jones never visited the speedway much.
“I didn’t go to MIS a ton when I was a kid,” Jones continued. “I actually only went a few times because we were racing. You know, I did go down there a few times. It was always just my dad and I, so that’s always a fun memory for me to look back on and think about. Obviously, my dad was a race fan, and to share that time with him down there was pretty fun.”
Jones, finished fourth in his lone XFINITY Series start there and third in his only NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start. Mix those with a 13th in June in the Cup race and four top 10’s over his last six starts on the season, and it’s clear why it’s entirely possible he drives his Toyota to victory lane on Sunday.
But, he’s going to have to deal with another Michigan native in Brad Keselowski.
In 16 starts at Michigan, the Rochester Hills native claims five top fives, eight top 10s and a 12.6 average finish. Six of his top 10s have come in his last seven Michigan starts though.
So, can Keselowski take his No. 2 Ford to victory lane this weekend?
He’d certainly like to think so.