Small Teams Impress at Michigan

Trevor Bayne
Randy Sartin-USA Today Sports

Michigan International Speedway is known for outright speed and the ability for four-wide racing much like the SuperSpeedways of Daytona and Talladega. It is this outright speed (averaging over 200 MPH in qualifying) that usually puts the elite teams on an even heightened pedestal.

Roush Racing is out of Michigan, and they have always had success at the high banked two mile track thanks to their partnership with Ford Racing. Hendrick Motorsports has certainly found success at the track, especially in recent years, thanks to their great engine department.

When NASCAR introduced the Generation Six car at the beginning of the season, it was tracks such as Michigan that they had in mind with regards to making competition closer.

Between positions 11-20, fans can find four drivers at four different places in their career. Some are already stars while others are prospects. They range from rookies to experienced drivers and big race winners, yet they each having something to prove.

Richard Childress Racing development driver Austin Dillon started this trend with an 11th place run at Michigan. Dillon has once again shown that he is already capable of contending in Sprint Cup Series races. He showed speed despite it being his second race this year with RCR and his first with crew chief Shane Wilson.

In 13th was Danica Patrick, the driver in the Sprint Cup Series with the most to prove. Despite being fully acclimated at Stewart-Haas Racing, the results for Patrick’s rookie year have certainly been disappointing. But the strong run at a fast track that the tour will visit again later this summer surely had to instill confidence into both Patrick and crew chief Tony Gibson.

In 15th position you can find Trevor Bayne and Wood Brothers Racing. The part-time underfunded team should not be competitive due to the minimal amount of races the team runs, but thanks to the cheaper Generation Six cars and the performance of Trevor Bayne, who has at times shown he can belong, the Wood Brothers may be competitive once again in the near future.

Lastly, finishing in 19th position is A.J Allmendinger in the JTG-Daugherty Racing No.47. The newest change to the NASCAR roster impressed at the fast Michigan track. While Bobby Labonte faltered and crashed the Phoenix Racing car, Allmendinger outperformed his equipment on the way to a top 20 run.

Greg Biffle’s win was certainly impressive, but just as impressive were the results had by unexpected teams. As the top teams fell, many unfamiliar names arrived to the top 20 and hopefully will get the attention they deserve.

Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486