NASCAR Barometer: Logano Dominates Michigan

NASCAR Barometer: Logano Dominates Michigan

This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.

Joey Logano planted his powerful Penske Racing Ford at the front of the field early in the weekend at Michigan International Speedway. He qualified on pole, dominated the first stage and was the fastest car throughout the race's 400 miles. The delayed win on Monday was his second of the season and confirms that the recent inroads team Penske has made on the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas weren't a fluke. Logano's only true challenge came in the middle of the race when Kevin Harvick's Ford made life a little more difficult for a few laps. A near perfect restart in overtime sealed his win, with Kurt Busch wishing he had just a bit more edge to make a challenge.

The series takes a well-deserved break this week and returns to action in two weeks at Sonoma Raceway. The time away from the track will give some organizations time to assess what they need to correct and where they can make improvements before the run through the summer heats up. Martin Truex Jr. won last time in California's wine country, and road course racing almost always creates an exciting show for fans and fantasy players alike.

UPGRADE

Joey Logano – Logano was the car to beat throughout the 400 miles run Monday evening at Michigan International Speedway. He was the fastest in qualifying, starting the race from pole, and went on to lead 163 of the 203 laps run. The only real challenge he had throughout the distance was from

Joey Logano planted his powerful Penske Racing Ford at the front of the field early in the weekend at Michigan International Speedway. He qualified on pole, dominated the first stage and was the fastest car throughout the race's 400 miles. The delayed win on Monday was his second of the season and confirms that the recent inroads team Penske has made on the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas weren't a fluke. Logano's only true challenge came in the middle of the race when Kevin Harvick's Ford made life a little more difficult for a few laps. A near perfect restart in overtime sealed his win, with Kurt Busch wishing he had just a bit more edge to make a challenge.

The series takes a well-deserved break this week and returns to action in two weeks at Sonoma Raceway. The time away from the track will give some organizations time to assess what they need to correct and where they can make improvements before the run through the summer heats up. Martin Truex Jr. won last time in California's wine country, and road course racing almost always creates an exciting show for fans and fantasy players alike.

UPGRADE

Joey Logano – Logano was the car to beat throughout the 400 miles run Monday evening at Michigan International Speedway. He was the fastest in qualifying, starting the race from pole, and went on to lead 163 of the 203 laps run. The only real challenge he had throughout the distance was from Harvick, but he also put in fine work to hold off Kurt Busch in an overtime restart to claim the victory that seemed destined to be his since action got underway. It was the second win of the season for Logano and fifth for Penske Racing. Next week's race will be a different animal, though. In the last four Sonoma races, Logano has two top-fives. He finished 19th there last season.

Kevin Harvick – The results show a seventh-place finish for Harvick at Michigan, but that is not entirely representative of how well he raced. At the start, a vibration sent him to the pits multiple times to correct the issue, which put him a lap down. He made up that lap and went on to lead 15 laps racing head-to-head with Logano. A four-tire stop in the final stage versus Logano's two-tire stop left him with a lot of ground to cover in his fight for the win, and the track position he lost didn't do him any favors on the final restart. Harvick and team have the speed; they just now need to generate some luck to claim their first 2019 win.

Kurt Busch – Busch overcame an early scrape with the wall to harry Logano to the checkered flag in Monday's delayed race. He was third on that final restart and overcame Martin Truex Jr. to have a whiff of victory. Busch ran near the top five throughout Monday evening's race, which is a turnaround from the last four races, at which he failed to finish in the top 10 three times. Busch was the fastest Chevrolet early but has been caught by the other teams in this middle portion of the season. Monday's race may show he has found a bit more, though. Busch has a pole and win at Sonoma, and hasn't finished lower than 12th there since 2011. His race Monday along with his history at Sonoma make him a contender for rosters next week.

Daniel Suarez – Suarez quietly walked away from Michigan with his second top-five finish of the season. His first was at Texas in March. He has largely been a top-15 runner most of the season but has shown promise and picked up top-10s when possible. His races at Pocono and Michigan now are just his second back-to-back top-10 finishes this year. We've chronicled the woes of Stewart-Haas Racing, but it appears Suarez is just rolling onward, taking what he can along the way. He is 13th in the playoff standings with a comfortable gap to the cutoff, which is a result of his consistency. His results haven't been headlines, but finishing in the top 15 each week will give him a shot in the playoffs as the season ends.

Austin Dillon – Dillon won the second stage in Michigan's delayed race, for his first stage win of the season. Strategy put him out front as an early stop cycled him to the lead for the final laps of the segment. He held off Harvick to grab the extra points and led seven total laps on the day. The final stage didn't get off with the same success, however. He lost control in traffic and collected the outside wall, effectively ending his hopes of converting the stage win to a top finish. The 26th-place finish is another dent in his bid to claim a playoff spot, and he now sits more than 50 points behind the top 16. A win looks to be his best chance at getting a shot in the championship battle, which will likely have to come after next week's Sonoma stop. Dillon has yet to finish in the top 10 there.

DOWNGRADE

Clint Bowyer – Bowyer walked away from Michigan less happy than he was a year ago. His recent woes continued with a spin and contact with the outside wall. Unfortunately for him, he was one of just two cars that failed to finish. It was also his second result outside of the top 20 in the last three races. Stewart-Haas Racing is feeling the pressure of being winless so far this season. The off-week ahead of Sonoma will give the organization a chance to assess what has gone wrong and where they need to focus to begin delivering consistent results and get those elusive wins. Bowyer is a former Sonoma winner, though. He finished in the top three in the last two races at the track, which could be a good omen for next week's potential.

Erik Jones – Jones' tire failure and late spin into the grass set up the overtime finish Monday evening, and it also meant he fell significantly down the finishing order to 31st position. He ran well in the beginning, picking up stage points, but the late issue ruined his chances and pushed him out of the playoff positions in the standings. This is the second time in three races that Jones finished worse than 30th, and he will have a lot of work ahead of him to close the gap to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. He has just two Cup starts at Sonoma but did finish seventh last season. Now on the outside of the playoffs looking in, the pressure will begin to ratchet up, and a win will become even more of a necessity.

Darrell Wallace Jr. – Yet again Bubba Wallace suffered a forgettable race. The team must be credited with soldiering on in the face of adversity, though. At one point, Wallace was headed to pit road with smoke billowing from his car, but perseverance put him back on track to make up as much ground as possible as the team fights to get things going their direction. Wallace is 29th in the standings with virtually no chance of a spot in the playoffs without a surprising victory in the remaining races. His best finish so far this year was a 17th-place run at Martinsville. With only one other top-20 finish from him this year, fantasy owners who haven't already pulled the plug should do so. He finished 29th at Sonoma last year and shouldn't expect much improvement on that next week.

Kyle Larson – Another late-race fade plagued Larson's result at Michigan Monday evening. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver cannot seem to find a way to translate his early race pace into a battle for the win by the finish. Teammate Kurt Busch was able to carry his pace throughout the distance while Larson struggled…again. Michigan was the third race in a row where Larson failed to finish in the top 10. Making the situation worse was that he was in the top 10 for each of the opening stages, too. This is becoming the norm for this team, and fantasy players need race results more than stage finishes. This week will be one for digging deep in the No. 42 stable, and with no prior Sonoma top-10s, it could be three weeks before we see what gains Larson is able to make.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Daniel Hemric – For the second week in a row Hemric finds his way into the surprise category. As predicted with last week's result Hemric should continue to improve as the season enters its second half. Richard Childress Racing has been fielding fast cars for teammate Dillon and him, and for Hemric the race finishes are starting to come as well. While he's significantly outside of playoff contention, Hemric can still be a sleeper for fantasy rosters with plenty of upside potential. He now has consecutive top-15 finishes and is seeing the checkered flag more frequently. As the series revisits tracks from the first half of the season, fantasy owners should expect to see Hemric continue his upward momentum.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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