NASCAR went to Michigan for the second time this season and for once we weren’t dreading its return. Since the repave at Michigan the racing has been pretty lackluster. Multi-groove racing has been noticeably absent and for the most part, the leader runs away with the race. Sunday was a little different though. Michigan has started to race more like Daytona/Talladega where drafting is key. Drafting on Sunday was very noticeable.
Sunday’s race featured the third most green flag passes behind the lower downforce 2014 & 2015 seasons. It did feature the second most quality passes. On the downside, it featured the average number of leaders and the lead changes ranked second highest thanks to multiple strategies.
NASCAR did put PJ1 traction compound in the upper lanes of the track this weekend. Problem with that is the fact that it never really activated and no drivers ventured up there to use it. The goal was to increase passing and provide drivers with another option in the corners. Unfortunately, drivers stuck to the bottom and middle lanes.
Passing was still difficult on Sunday. In the midpack, it was prevalent thanks to the draft off multiple cars. At the front passing was much harder and we saw that in Stage 1 as Denny Hamlin couldn’t get around Martin Truex Jr. Good cars will always be able to pass people but so much emphasis has been put on the draft with this package.
With this package, cars need to run different lanes in the corner to keep the downforce on the front of the car and then draft down the straights. Repaves generally kill racing at those tracks and make them single groove. You have to applaud NASCAR for trying something.
Michigan marks the second time NASCAR has returned to a track with the high downforce package (Daytona doesn’t count). And while cars were about a .5 second quicker in the second race at Michigan it didn’t produce better passing numbers than the first race which was surprising.
Follow us on Twitter @ApexOff