Heading into this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Michigan International Speedway, everyone assumed that Kyle Larson and Chip Ganassi Racing would be the ones to beat. Larson, has been dominant in his four career Cup Series starts at Michigan. He’s won three of them, including all consecutively. His worst Cup finish on the 2-mile, D-Shaped oval is third. Back in Fontana, a track like Michigan, Larson brought his No. 42 Chevrolet home runner-up. Last weekend in Pocono, he finished second again. He heads to Michigan on the three straight top seven finishes, all on high speed tracks too.
Seemed like a logical favorite right?
Well, if we’re going to put much stock in Friday’s action, he certainly may not be.
Larson, was 16th in the lone practice session of the day in his No. 42 Chevrolet. In qualifying later on in the day, he didn’t even make it out of the first round. He will start Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) 26th. He needs a much better day on Saturday to get his car where it needs to be to become a contender for this weekend’s race.
Coincidentally enough, Larson said earlier on Friday that he feels like his pace isn’t far off from where it was in 2017. They weren’t going to use the new Chevrolet Camaro as an excuse like other teams do he feels. Despite that, his Chevy was down in power compared to the Ford camp who dominated the speed charts this afternoon.
His teammate Jamie McMurray finished sixth two weeks ago in Charlotte and has five top 10 finishes in his No. 1 Chevrolet in his last six Michigan starts. But, he starts 24th himself.
This year though, McMurray has finished 16th or worse in 11 of the 14 races this season. Can he and Larson overcome a rough Friday in the speed department and get better as the weekend goes on?