Why he'll win: Busch finished dead last, 43rd, at Pocono last week. At Michigan we'll find out if he and his crew can bounce back, which is an essential characteristic of a championship team. It says here he will. He finished sixth in this race last season.
Keep an eye on: Matt Kenseth -- The '03 champ has been creeping back into contention the last couple of weeks, reeling off four straight top-10 runs and climbing up from 22nd to 15th in the point standings. In '05, he came to Michigan ranked 24th, but his fourth-place finish here began a summer run that saw him climb all the way back into the Chase.
Don't expect much from: Jeff Burton -- I'm not saying he won't be somewhere around the top 10 -- Burton's having too consistent a season to be counted out so completely. But the man hasn't won here even once in 28 starts. With all the talent in this field, I'd expect that streak to continue.
My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: He's been as close to dominant as any driver this year not named Kyle Busch, and Michigan is one of his favorite tracks. Edwards made his debut here in 2004, finishing 10th, and he won this race last season.
Keep an eye on: Denny Hamlin -- He won twice at Pocono as a rookie in 2006, and logged two more top-10 finishes there last year. His average finish in four races at the triangle is 2.9.
Don't expect much from: Kasey Kahne -- Momentum may be slipping away from the No. 9 team, and Pocono -- where Kahne has just two top-10 finishes in eight starts -- wouldn't seem to be the place for him to get healthy. It's odd layout and long homestretch are a far cry from the intermediate ovals on which he thrives.
My Pick: Greg Biffle
Why he'll win: Biffle's en route to signing a long-term extension to remain with Roush Fenway Racing, and there's no better way to cap that off than a win in Ford's backyard of Detroit. His track record at Michigan is solid -- two wins and six top 10s in ten career starts -- and if he didn't speed down pit road, he would have three top-five finishes in three weeks. Should he avoid another pit road snafu, this race is Biffle's for the taking.
Keep an eye on: Kasey Kahne -- It's hard to ignore a man who's won the last two out of three, and it won't be hard for Kahne to keep momentum going in the Irish Hills. Dodge has won five of the last nine at Michigan, and Kahne won from the pole here in a rain-shortened race two years back.
Don't expect much from: Chevrolet -- You've got to go all the way back to '01 (Jeff Gordon) to find the last time the Bowtie Brigade visited Victory Lane at Michigan, and they're a dismal four for their last 29 at this track. Gordon may be their best hope to break through -- he snagged the pole and led 25 laps last August, but slumped to 27th by the checkered flag.
My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: The momentary hiccup in Kyle Busch's world-domination mojo will allow Edwards, winner of two of the first three races of the season, to regain his stride at a track at which he and his owner (Jack Roush) excel. He has a win and five top-7 finishes at Michigan in seven starts.
Keep an eye on: Greg Biffle -- A two-time Michigan winner, he has six top-7 performances in 10 starts for Roush and is up-ticking everywhere this season.
Don't expect much from: Scott Riggs -- In eight starts at Michigan, he's finished 19th or worse six times. He finished second in the '05 late-summer race but has been otherwise unlucky in the Irish Hills.
My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: After winning last June's Michigan race, Edwards understands the value and importance of winning at the track nearest to Motor City. I'm really looking forward to Michigan," Edwards said. "It's a great track with some really awesome racing. You can pass and I think the fans always see a good show there. Michigan is a kind of bragging rights track. It's in [team owner Jack] Roush's back yard, Ford's back yard -- so another win there would be huge."
Keep an eye on: Kasey Kahne -- NASCAR's hottest driver in the past month with three wins in the last four race (including the non-points All-Star Race), Kahne won this race at Michigan in '06. He has done a tremendous job of turning around what was a mediocre start to the '08 season. "As a driver, I didn't feel like my confidence was down," Kahne said of last year. "I went to the track every week and I felt like I was ready to win and ready to -- I went in with a good attitude. But until I actually won this year, the All-Star Race, I realized that I was leaving a little bit out there and wasn't communicating probably like I should have been with Kenny [Francis, his team manager] and maybe I wasn't communicating quite as well as I have in the past. So since then, I've done a better job, and it's just kind of like everything is clicking at the same time."
Don't expect much from: Kevin Harvick -- For whatever reason, Michigan is not one of Harvick's better tracks. He has no wins, two top-five and five top-10 finishes in 14 previous starts. He was seventh last June and 15th last August.
My Pick: Kyle Busch
Why he'll win: Busch has been tremendously fast on the big horsepower tracks like Michigan. Busch drives his cars loose (or free) and that's the fast way around the two-mile track if you can hold onto your machine. Busch does it better than anyone in Sprint Cup, evidenced this season by a win at Atlanta, thirds at Lowe's and Texas and a fourth at Auto Club Speedway in California. Darlington doesn't quite fit the category, but it's similar and he won there, too.
Keep an eye on: Jeff Gordon -- He's been close on the 1.5- and two-mile tracks with a third at Fontana, Calif., fourth at Atlanta and fifth at Lowe's and it figures he and crew chief Steve Letarte are going to get the No. 24 to the next level eventually. With Michigan the 15th race of the season, this could be the time and place for it all to come together.
Don't expect much from: Bobby Labonte -- Labonte has three wins at Michigan and, with a new contract with Petty Enterprises and new owners at Petty, this would be a great week for a top-10 finish. But Labonte's last win at Michigan was in 1999 and he doesn't have a top-10 this season, so the chances of either seem unlikely.
My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: In the past six years, Roush Fenway has won half of the races at Michigan. Look for Edwards to repeat his win from last June at the track, when he ended a 52-race winless skid. Since then, Edwards has won five races.
Keep an eye on: Martin Truex Jr. -- Truex Jr. finished second in both races at Michigan in '07, but he'd be bucking recent history with a win. A Chevy hasn't won at the track since June of '01.
Don't expect much from: Clint Bowyer -- Bowyer's best finish in four starts at Michigan is 16th. His average finish at the track is 26.3.
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