Martin Truex Jr. focusing on building momentum now that Chase spot is clinched

Having a Chase berth safely tucked away, Martin Truex Jr. says it will be full throttle as usual in the remaining four regular season Sprint Cup Series races. The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet clinched a playoff spot following Sunday’s road-race at Watkins Glen International.

“We’re not going to settle for anything less than being a contender in the next four races,” said Truex. “Producing strong performances is contagious and we want to enter the Chase with a winning momentum.”
Truex’s pre-Chase charge will commence this weekend in the Pure Michigan 400 at the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway where he finished third in the June rain-shortened race.

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NASCAR announced changes to the race package for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 14. Th changes aim to increase the drag on the cars and optimize the racing.

BROOKLYN, Mich. — NASCAR announced on Tuesday changes to the race package for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, August 14.

The changes to the car for the race include a nine-inch spoiler with a one-inch wicker bill, a two-inch splitter and a 43-inch radiator pan. These changes are expected to increase the drag on the cars and optimize the racing. NASCAR spoke to the OEMs, owners, drivers and MIS about the package options to select the one to make the competition stronger.

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This is what remained of Austin Dillon's car after his scary ride into the catchfence at Daytona.

"Good racing"

What does that mean to you?

Is it all about how many passes there are for the lead, or are you satisfied with tight racing through the field, even if the leader is zooming away?
Or is it better if the cars are packed together, like we get at Daytona and Talladega with restrictor plates?

And then there's the matter of crashes? Are there real racing fans who truly enjoy watching a bunch of cars getting wadded up? Is a race without any crashes "boring" by definition?

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In the past, NASCAR has embraced the Confederate flag. Current NASCAR Chairman Brian France made it clear this week that is no longer the case.

The South and NASCAR are forever tied together.

The back roads and the moonshiners down South is where NASCAR began, so despite its rise to a national presence in the past few decades, it's still a Southern sport at its root and that's how it's perceived by many in this country.

So this recent controversy about the Confederate flag in South Carolina, and NASCAR's take on it, is interesting.
One would think, from a distance, that NASCAR would be that rare group that defends the flag -- claiming its part of the Southern heritage and not to be condemned.


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Weather was a factor all day at MIS, eventually ending the race at lap 138.

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- The word Biblical came up a lot Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

On one hand, the race had a Biblical length; taking five hours to run 138 laps, due to an incredible FOUR red flags and a steady stream of rain showers, which would seem to pop up as soon as the drivers got called back to their cars and hit the track after the last delay.

And secondly, the rain that ended up forcing the race to be ended early, at lap 138, was of BIblical proportions. As the race was officially called, driver rankings were replaced by "SEVERE WEATHER ALERT: TAKE COVER" on the scoring pylon and fans were warned of possible lightning.

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New Global Ford Performance Director Dave Pericak along with Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion, met with media members Sunday morning at Michigan International Speedway

“Hopefully some of the best race cars you have ever seen. We are really excited about returning to Le Mans and returning to sports car racing. The EcoBoost powered sports car is going to be over 600 horsepower and will be state of the art in terms of aerodynamics, light-weighting and the powertrain itself. We are very excited. We are going to have one fantastic race car. Everybody keeps asking, ‘Are you guys going to go win?’ and I say that we don’t race to lose. All I can tell you is that when we show up that day we are going to have one heck of a race car and I hope everyone else is ready.”

“We did a reorganization called Ford Performance and I am the director of Ford Performance. Whether it is performance vehicles inside our company or whether it is racing, it is all underneath me. So you will see me at the race tracks more often. I have been here already quite a bit and engaging with the teams. More importantly what you will see and why Ford Performance is so important, and Brad (Keselowski) can hopefully support me on this, we are taking all our resources inside of Ford and we are reorganizing them in a way we can be more efficient and effective to help our teams perform better on the track. I think Brad has seen the results of us doing this Ford Performance, stepping up our technical supports and then applying it to the team.”

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NASCAR VIEW: Furniture Row's talk of possibly splitting with Chevy could pay off

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Much of the focus on the #78 car's recent success has been on driver Martin Truex Jr. He's led the most laps in the past four races, won last week and nearly had a couple more victories.

The team is among the class of the field in Cup this year, and accolades are going to Truex and the Denver-based team that builds all the cars he's doing so well in each week (many of which are brand-new).

Behind the scenes though, there is some interesting drama happening.

Furniture Row general manager Joe Garone has publicly stated, and did so again Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

In a nutshell, Garone was blunt -- saying that Chevy (their manufacturer for a decade) is a great organization but spread thin. They have so many race teams that once the support is all handed out, some teams are left disappointed, including Furniture Row.

“It is it’s about business. We are in a sport that is real expensive. We truly can’t afford to do it. We can do it. When I say we can’t afford to do I mean at the level we want to push it to in order to be able to be in position to win a championship. We need more resources. Chevrolet has been a great partner. We have been together for 10 years now. But they are spread across… they do a great job look at all the championships they have won. But to get to the level we need to get to we need to get a lot more support. We are open and have been looking to try and get that just to push our team forward further.”

He did not say FRR will split with Chevy, but did say they are open to other manufacturers if more support can be offered. After all, the sport is expensive.

That is true; but it's a risky strategy to do this so publicly -- still, it's a strategy that could pay off: With Chevy or someone else.

Garone is not worried about any impact this discussion will have on the 78 team this year as they pursue a title.

“The truth is we didn’t say we were changing. We were just saying that we are looking. It is just something that we need to do across the board including sponsorship. One of the things about the No. 78 car is because it has always had Furniture Row and Denver Mattress on it everybody assumes it is sponsored. It has made it tough to find partners, but again Barney (Visser, team owner) owns those companies. We need to get the word out that we are actively looking for sponsorship to come on board. Not just for the No. 78, but to expand the company into a multi-car team. It is for the long term growth of the team. We will just see what plays out and just keep pushing the button and try to expand this thing.”

Let's look at possible outcomes:

A: Chevy recognizes their success and offers more support:
-- This is, I believe, the outcome Furniture Row wants to see. By publicly saying they need more support, then showing they can be successful on track, the FRR team gains suitors from outside. If Chevy wants to keep them, they will have to step up. Logic would dictate that this should happen; but budgets are tricky and Chevy might not be able to do as much as FRR wants.

B: Furniture Row leaves Chevy for another car make next year:
-- If Chevy won't step up, this is the most likely outcome. I can see Toyota as the most likely manufacturer to step up and court the Furniture Row team; They need some more stars in their lineup and Truex is talented and has a name. Ford is a longshot, as they need to get their current house in order before adding teams. It's not so great lately at the Blue Oval, though Team Penske is a bright spot most weeks.

C: FRR can't find a better deal and begrudgingly stick with Chevy and current level of support:
-- This is the worst possible scenario, and the team will do everything it can to avoid this. Both sides will have hurt feelings and not work very well together in this scenario, and 2016 would most likely be a rough season for Truex and the 78 team.
What will happen?

I say option A is most likely and the public announcement of this exploration of car makes will pay off for Furniture Row. But I wouldn't bet my house on it. If Chevy won't step up to the plate (or can't afford to do that), it's probably going to be the #78 Toyota next season.
They've stepped up in the past to get top drivers and this would be another example of their willingness to pay to get top talent and teams.

Matt Myftiu can be reached on Twitter @MattMyftiu. Follow AutoTechReviews on Twitter @AutoTechReview or at the Facebook page:

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Carl Edwards will drive a Toyota at Michigan International Speedway for the first time this weekend; In past years he drove Fords for Jack Roush.

Here are highlights from Carl Edward's time with the media Friday at Michigan International Speedway:

Was there any testing done at Darlington that could indicate a rules package change?
“Everybody in this sport, the drivers, NASCAR, the owners – everyone wants it to be the best possible racing it can be. I know everybody is working towards that. I don’t know all the details of what’s going on, but I think we’re going to have better and better racing coming. I’m excited to find out exactly what it is.”

Does it seem odd to be racing at Michigan not driving for Jack Roush?
“It is a little strange to come here to this race and not be driving for Jack Roush because we put so much emphasis on this event for so many years. I really feel like I’ve made some friends up in this area and there’s always been a lot of pride driving for Jack here. I can tell you this, to win this race would be really special for me now just because I know from the other side how much everyone prepares – Jack and the other teams because for the domestic car manufacturers, this is their backyard. They bring their best stuff. For me to win in a Toyota would be really special here.”

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