CONCORD, N.C.— For the second time this season, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway.
And Sunday’s race at the two-mile oval track will mark Chase Elliott’s 24th start as the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS.
“It’s hard to believe I will have run 24 races already this year, but I’m excited to get back to Michigan,” Elliott said. “It’s always been a place I enjoy going to.”
Alex Bowman, who drove the No. 88 Chevrolet SS in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s absence at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, will return behind the wheel as the team’s substitute driver for this weekend.
“I know I learned a lot working with Greg (Ives, crew chief) and the team in New Hampshire, so hopefully we’ll be able to pick right up where we left off and have a solid weekend in Michigan,” Bowman said.
Before the drivers hit the track, get caught up on what you should keep an eye on for this weekend’s 200-lap event.
BROADCAST INFORMATION: Sunday’s race will air live on NBC Sports Network at 2 p.m. ET. Can’t make it to the television? Listen to the race coverage live on MRN and SiriusXM. Here is the full broadcast schedule:
Friday, August 26:
Noon ET: Sprint Cup Series Practice, NBC Sports Network
5:00 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, NBC Sports Network
Saturday, August 27:
8:30 a.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Practice, CNBC
11:30 a.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, CNBC
Sunday, August 28:
2:00 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Race, NBC Sports Network
THIS WEEKEND’S PAINT SCHEMES: Kasey Kahne will drive the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS for this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway. NAPA AUTO PARTS will be the primary partner on board Rookie of the Year contender Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS. Jimmie Johnson will pilot the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS and Bowman, substitute driver for Earnhardt, will drive the No. 88 Axalta/University of Michigan Chevrolet SS at Michigan. Check out the 360-degree view of all four cars here.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MICHIGAN: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have led 2,410 laps en route to eight wins, 50 top-five finishes and 91 top-10s in addition to 11 pole positions at Michigan. The organization swept both races at the two-mile oval in 2014, and in the June 2015 race at Michigan, Earnhardt earned a runner-up finish.
KAHNE AT MICHIGAN: Kahne has earned three pole awards at Michigan -- in 2006, 2010 and 2015. After starting the June 2006 race from the pole position, the 36-year-old led 19 laps and went on to take the checkered flag for his fifth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. Kahne earned a 13th-place finish at the two-mile track earlier this season.
RACING TO THE CHASE: As the Chase for the Sprint Cup cutoff nears, Kahne looks to capture a win before the series heads to Chicagoland Speedway in just a few weeks. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has a combined eight pole awards at the next three tracks on the schedule -- Michigan, Darlington and Richmond. Four of those poles were earned at Darlington, and he has a win at both Michigan and Richmond.
24 IN THE 24: This weekend at Michigan marks a milestone of sorts for Elliott – it will be his 24th points-paying race in the No. 24 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports. The rookie driver started the season strong after taking over the No. 24 at Daytona International Speedway in February. He is the reigning Daytona 500 pole-sitter, the top-ranked rookie and boasts the eighth-most top-10 finishes among all drivers heading into his 24th points-paying race in the No. 24. Once he completes his 24th race at Michigan, there will only be 12 races remaining in his rookie season – nine of the 12 tracks he will compete at for the second time this year.
MICHIGAN DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Johnson has the ninth-best driver rating at Michigan with a score of 92.2 during the past 10 years at the track. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.
EARNHARDT UPDATE: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet, has not been cleared by physicians to compete in at least the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as he continues to recover from a concussion. Earnhardt, who will miss the races at Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 28) and Darlington Raceway (Sept. 4), underwent further evaluation Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
BOWMAN RETURNS: The 23-year-old will fill in for Earnhardt for the second time this weekend in Michigan. He previously subbed for Earnhardt at Loudon and was running solidly inside the top 10 before a flat tire relegated him to a 26th-place finish.