5 things to watch: Pure Michigan 400

Before the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway, check out five things to watch in the race.

5 things to watch: Pure Michigan 400
Kyle Larson is looking to win yet another race at Michigan. (Credit: Brandon Farris/VAVEL USA)

The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series will run the 22nd race of the season on Sunday afternoon when they take to the track at Michigan International Speedway for the Pure Michigan 400. Here's a look at the top five storylines heading into the race.

1) Playoff pressure building


Including this race, there are just four races remaining until the Chase for the Monster Energy Cup begins, and there are still numerous drivers without a win, with one of the more notable ones being Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will be making his final start at Michigan. He has had success in his career at the track, racking up two wins, eight top-five finishes, and 15 top-10 finishes in 35 races. 


The other notable driver without a win is Joey Logano, who currently sits 95 points out of the final playoff spot, meaning that he virtually needs a win to make the Chase for the third time in the last four years. He won the April race at Richmond this year, but that win was ruled encumbered due to a rear suspension violation, meaning that he can't use it to qualify for the playoffs. 

2) Larson looks to continue Michigan domination


To say that Kyle Larson has been dominant at Michigan International Speedway over the last few years is an understatement. The 25-year old from Elk Grove, Calif., has won the last three races at Michigan, including the spring race this year, when he led 96 laps, the most of any driver in the field. He needs a good finish this week after falling to third-place in the standings after Watkins Glen and hasn't had a finish better than 23rd in the last three races. 

3) Suarez hitting his stride


Rookie Daniel Suarez has really hit his stride over the last four races, as he has four straight top-10 finishes, including a third-place finish at Watkins Glen. He also won his first stage of the season at the Glen, but still is looking for his first Cup series win of his career. He currently leads Erik Jones in the Rookie of the Year standings by 17 points.

4) Can anybody catch Truex Jr.?


Martin Truex Jr. is on cloud nine right now. He has four wins this season, including a win in the I Love New TYork 355 at the Glen last week, and is at the top of the standings, leading Kyle Busch by 116 points. Truex also leads in playoff points, having racked up 34 so far this season, and will be a force to be reckoned with once the Chase starts.

5) Kenseth looking for a win


Matt Kenseth is one of the other drivers who is looking for his first win of the season, and has a chance this weekend, as he has three previous wins at Michigan, along with 14 top-five finishes and 20 top-10 finishes. He has an average finish at the track of 11.04, which is second-best. 

The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series will drop the green flag on the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Raceway at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon. The race will be televised by NBCSN, with a radio broadcast being on MRN and SiriusXM Radio Channel 90. 


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