BROOKLYN, Mich – Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races aren’t won on Friday’s but they certainly can be lost. While we’re still a few days away from Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 (2:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), it was a great start to the weekend for the Toyota camp.
That’s a positive step in the right direction for them.
First off, Toyota is among the top manufacturers in NASCAR right now. They’ve won 11 races already this season including six of the last 10. But, for some reason at the Michigan International Speedway, they’ve at times struggled.
Since 2012, Toyota has just one victory on the 2-mile, D-shaped oval. That came via Matt Kenseth in 2015. Other than that, they’ve watched Ford and Chevrolet drivers dominate in the Irish Hills.
Well, they’re looking to pull an upset in both Ford and Chevy’s backyard on Sunday afternoon.
Toyota’s struggled at Michigan back in June too with just one car finishing in the top 10 (Kyle Busch in 4th). But, on Friday, they had three cars inside of the top five of the speed charts in the lone practice session of the day then backed that up with putting three cars in the top four in qualifying for Sunday’s race.
They were led by Denny Hamlin who was not only fastest in practice but was quickest in all three rounds of qualifying en route to his second straight pole on the season. He won in consecutive years at Michigan in 2010 and 2011 but has scored just four top 10 finishes since. So far this weekend, he’s looking like a legitimate contender to earn his first victory of the season.
Kyle Busch was fifth practice in practice on Friday and qualified his No. 18 Toyota second alongside of Hamlin for an all Joe Gibbs Racing front row. Busch, came home seventh and 10th respectively at Michigan last year for three consecutive top 10 finishes on the track.
Erik Jones will roll off fourth as the Michigan native finished third in this very race last year. His former teammate Martin Truex Jr. will start seventh in his No. 78 Toyota after being 11th in practice on Friday. He has four top six finishes over his last seven starts at Michigan and six top four finishes over his last seven races on the season.
As you can see, the Toyota drivers appear to have found some speed this weekend.