Last August, Ryan Blaney won the Michigan International Speedway. But he already had a NASCAR Cup Series playoff ticket in his pocket thanks to a win earlier that season in Atlanta.
As the series returns to Michigan on Sunday, Blaney hasn’t secured a playoff spot.
He is one of two winless drivers holding the last two spots in the playoffs on points, and the other driver, Martin Truex Jr.closes quickly.
Neither of them wants to be the last driver in the points playoff and thus risk being eliminated from the title due to a driver win below the cut line. Blaney (+121 above the cut line) and Truex (+96) are just 25 points apart on Sunday.
Blaney was 71 points behind Truex after Atlanta three races ago. During this time, Blaney finished 18th, 33rd and 26th.
For more storylines, check out our viewer guide.
Sunday Cup race details at Michigan International Speedway
(All times of the East)
START: The command to start the engines at 15:09 … The green flag will go up at 15:17.
PRERACE: The Cup Garage opens at noon… Meet the drivers at 2:30 pm… Ave. Jeff Rose of St. Francis de Sales High School (Toledo, Ohio) will say a prayer at 3:00 pm… Lisa Bascom will sing the Canadian national anthem at 3:01 pm… The Family of Faith community choir will play the US national anthem at 3:00 pm. :02 pm
DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (400 miles) on a 2 mile race track.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on lap 45. Stage 2 ends at lap 120.
TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 15:00. Countdown to green starts at 14:30. MRN coverage starts at 2:00 pm and will also be broadcast on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will host the radio broadcast.
FLOW: NBC Sports
FORECAST: Weather Metro – Mostly cloudy, high temperature 88 degrees, 15% chance of rain at the beginning of the race.
LAST YEAR: Ryan Blaney took the lead in the restart with eight laps to go and overtook William Byron by 0.077 seconds to win last August in Michigan. The margin of victory was the closest in Michigan since the advent of electronic scoring.
WATCH NBC SPORTS Reports:
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Front Row Motorsports gets big boost from Indianapolis weekend
Top Sponsor signs new contract with Martin Truex Jr., JGR
Dr. Diandra: Will Martin Truex Jr’s playoff bubble burst?
Kurt Busch will miss the third race in a row; Ty Gibbs back in #45
Drivers to Watch for in the NASCAR Cup Series in Michigan
NASCAR to Consider Faster Penalties in Races