Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series head to Michigan International Speedway, while the IZOD IndyCar Series runs at The Milwaukee Mile on this Father's Day Weekend.
Sprint Cup Series
Quicken Loans 400 - Michigan International Speedway - Brooklyn, MI
For the second consecutive week, the Sprint Cup Series will compete at a racetrack that has recently been repaved.
Michigan International Speedway is the next stop on the series schedule this season. The two-mile oval, which is located roughly 70 miles southwest of Detroit, has a new coat of asphalt on it. Michigan's new pavement process began immediately after the August 2011 race and concluded in November, giving the asphalt time to settle and cure during the winter.
Five drivers -- Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Juan Pablo Montoya -- participated in a Goodyear Tire test at Michigan. Speeds reached as high as 216 mph.
"When we were in race trim, we were almost four seconds faster than we were racing last year, which is quite a difference," Kenseth said.
Michigan has been repaved three times in the past -- 1977, 1986 and 1995. The track was built in 1968.
"It's a very fast track but a very comfortable-feeling pace," Gordon said. "The track drives so similar to the way it did before, and I believe it's going to have multiple grooves."
Last Saturday, the series ran at the newly-repaved Pocono Raceway, where the top-36 drivers in qualifying for the Pocono 400 surpassed Kasey Kahne's 2004 track record of 172.533 mph.
The top qualifying speed at Michigan is 194.232 mph, set by Ryan Newman in 2005. That record is expected to be broken during Saturday's qualifying.
NASCAR is allowing Sprint Cup teams to test at Michigan on Thursday to get familiar with the new track surface. Teams were also granted testing time last week at Pocono, with a half-day on Wednesday and a full-day on Thursday.
After finishing seventh at Pocono, Kenseth moved atop the standings. He holds a 10-point advantage over Dale Earnhardt Jr. Greg Biffle fell from first to third in points following his 24th-place run. Biffle is now 16 markers behind his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Kenseth.
Earnhardt Jr.'s winless streak in the series has now reached the four-year mark. His last victory came in June 2008 at Michigan (143 races ago). In his fifth year as driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt Jr. is having one of his finest seasons in Cup. He has scored 11 top-10 finishes, including two second-place runs, in the first 14 races.
"We are doing pretty well on our end with the No. 88 team," Earnhardt Jr. said. "We just need to get a couple of wins to really kind of solidify what we are doing about our consistency and how well we are running to really put the icing on the cake. It would be nice to get a couple of wins."
Earnhardt Jr's car for Michigan will feature a specially-wrapped Batman-themed paint scheme to promote the soon-to-be-released movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." The scheme includes the Batman logo on the hood and the faces of the two leading characters, "Batman" and "Bane," on each side.
"I'm looking forward to going to Michigan and testing there for the day," Earnhardt Jr. noted. "With the repave, some things might be similar to Pocono. We learned a lot during the five days up there, and hopefully, we can go to Michigan with some of that stuff we learned and have a strong car."
Forty-five teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Quicken Loans 400.
Alliance Truck Parts 250 - Michigan International Speedway - Brooklyn, MI
Heading into Saturday's 250-mile race at Michigan International Speedway, just 14 points separate the top-three drivers in the Nationwide Series standings.
Elliott Sadler holds a 12-point lead over defending Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., while Austin Dillon, who is a rookie in the series this year, is just two markers behind Stenhouse.
After winning the May 20 race at Iowa, Stenhouse held a 34-point advantage over Sadler, but Stenhouse has finished 26th and 32nd in the past two races, allowing Sadler to regain the points lead.
Stenhouse suffered a broken driveshaft at Charlotte and then crashed in the early going at Dover.
"The past two weeks are definitely not what we wanted," Stenhouse said after his 32nd-place finish in the June 2 race at Dover. "You aren't going to have perfect races every week, but we will bounce back from this and go to Michigan."
Sadler finished fifth at Charlotte and then followed up with a seventh-place run at Dover.
"It's great to take over the points lead again, but it's a long season, so we need to keep fighting to get strong finishes every week," he said. "We really want to win more of those race trophies, and if we can do that, the points should take care of themselves."
Dillon trailed the leader by 43 points after Iowa but has gained momentum since then. He is pulling double-duty at Michigan this week. Dillon will attempt to qualify for the Sprint Cup Series race there, driving the No. 33 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
"There is a test session for the Sprint Cup Series teams on Thursday, so that will provide us with an opportunity to gain some information before the race weekend officially begins, and I hope that will give our team an extra edge for both the Sprint Cup Series race and the Nationwide Series race," Dillon said.
Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Paul Menard are those Sprint Cup regulars competing in this race. Busch's suspension from NASCAR competition ended on Wednesday.
Logano has the most Nationwide wins so far this season with four. Three of those victories have come in his last four starts.
Since Michigan has recently been repaved, NASCAR scheduled an additional practice session for Nationwide teams on Friday to familiarize themselves with the new track surface.
Forty-three teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Alliance Truck Parts 250.
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES
Milwaukee IndyFest - The Milwaukee Mile - West Allis, WI
When points leader Will Power and second-place Scott Dixon come to The Milwaukee Mile this weekend, both drivers are facing a bigger challenge than they originally anticipated.
Power and Dixon are among six drivers who received 10-grid spot penalties for unapproved engine changes. Takuma Sato, Mike Conway, rookie Josef Newgarden and Justin Wilson, who won last Saturday's race at Texas, were hit with the same penalties as well.
On Tuesday, 21 drivers participated in a test session at Iowa Speedway to evaluate the short oval aerodynamic package for the new Dallara cars. Dixon's No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing car sustained a failure of its Honda engine with a few minutes left in the morning session. The Chevrolet engine in Power's No. 12 Team Penske car expired during testing in the afternoon.
"It's going to be hard to win from back there," Power said of the upcoming 225-mile race at Milwaukee.
Eighteen drivers tested May 29 at Milwaukee. Wilson was one of those who participated in the day-long session there.
"We want to hit that weekend with the right set-up right off the bat," he said. "It will take a bit of tuning to go from our old set-ups to something that will work for this car, but I think it will be fine. I've driven four different types of cars there, so I understand what to look for in the car on that track."
The aero package on the cars for the upcoming races at Milwaukee and Iowa are closely aligned with the road/street course platform. Iowa is scheduled for June 23.
"Most of us got to run it in Milwaukee a couple weeks ago after Indianapolis to get a feel for what it's going to be like," Penske driver Ryan Briscoe said. "It's going to be tough. It always is at Milwaukee. But it felt like the tires were definitely going off a lot. That's going to be a big player in the race, much like we saw in Texas.
"You're going to need a good-handling car from about mid-stint on. If you get a long green stint, you're going to see someone with a good car turning laps around the field, and that's going to have to be the focus -- being good over the distance."
Power currently holds a 36-point lead over Dixon, while James Hinchcliffe from Andretti Autosport is 48 points behind. Helio Castroneves, who is Power's teammate, is 53 markers out of the lead.
Last year at Milwaukee, Power started 17th and had a dismal performance during the first half of the race before rebounding in the closing stages to finish fourth. Dario Franchitti started on the pole and led a total of 161 laps en route to his third win of the season. Franchitti also won the inaugural race at Milwaukee in 2004.
"The racing is so good there," he said. "You can run side-by-side with guys. The lapped traffic gets involved. The car goes away at some point. You got to have a good car to start."
Twenty-five teams are on the entry list for the Milwaukee IndyFest.