Dave’s Deeper Dive: Michigan Wave Arounds

Another nasty summer virus got me a lap down without a Lucky Dog. So to catch up, going to have to use a Wave Around for this Michigan Deeper Dive.

Chris Buescher put his #17 Castrol Edge Ford Mustang in Victory Lane for the second time in two races scoring his fourth career win. Buescher, who lead a race-high 57 laps took the lead from Austin Dillon on lap 182 and battled a hard charging Stage 1 & 2 winner, Martin Truex, Jr. who took the lead on lap 188. Buescher retook the lead the following lap and held off the pesky Toyota for a .152 second victory, thwarting another “Monday Martin” signature win.

That’s the standard fare-Now let’s take a Deeper Dive…

Track Drying Team works to dry the track during a weather delay prior to the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 06, 2023 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
  • The rain delayed win was the 17th race weekend of the season impacted by weather. This race started on Sunday but rain forced NASCAR to red flag the race on Lap 76. Racing resumed on Monday after a 19:05:18 delay.
  • Weather appeared to affect strategy and intensity as teams tried to figure out if they could reach the halfway mark before the rain arrived. Fortunately, the rain came before the halfway mark and fans got to see the full race, albeit over two days.
  • The week opened with Noah Gragson being suspended by Legacy Motor Club and NASCAR. Super Sub, Josh Berry filled in for Gragson in the #42.
  • This was Buescher’s fourth career win and lifted him to a tie for 84th on the Cup Career Win list. He is now 15th on the Current Drivers Win List, tied with Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick, one behind the other Chris on the series, Christopher Bell. This is his third win in the NEXT GEN, which ties him for 9th in NEXT GEN Wins with Martin Truex, Jr. and Ross Chastain.
  • This win further secures Buescher’s spot in the Playoffs, lifts him to 11th Place in the Points Standing and his 11 Playoff Points is 6th most this season.
  • This win makes him the third driver to have back-to-back wins in the NEXT GEN Era. Kevin Harvick was the first to do it last year at the same two races. William Byron did it earlier this season to become the second.
  • This is RFK’s third win in two years and the first multi-win season since Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. had two wins in 2017.
  • This win was Buescher’s first Heritage Trophy win (Heritage Trophy is given to the winning Manufacturer) and the ninth overall for Ford. Buescher continued Ford’s strangle-hold on the coveted trophy extending their streak to six in a row.
  • This was the second time RFK found Victory Lane this year, tying them with Team Penske for winningest Ford team honors this season.
  • Qualifying Speed jumped up over 3 MPH over last year’s race. The Christopher Bell’s 193.382 Pole speed was the fastest since the Denny Hamlin’s 2018 202.794 MPH.
  • Second place Martin Truex, Jr. left Michigan with the most points earned, amassing 55 out of a possible 60 points. Race winner Buescher only collected 41 points for the race, placing him 5th in points collected for the race. Truex, Jr., Brad Keselowski (P4), Kyle Larson (P5) and Daniel Suarez (P6) used good Stage 1 and 2 finishes to outpoint the eventual race winner.
  • Truex, Jr. won Stages 1 and 2 and finished the race 2nd. This is the 16th time he has won the first two Stages. In seven of those races he went on to win the race. So with his history of Monday wins coupled with his Stage 1 and 2 wins, this race appeared to be a lock. However, this is the first time he has won the first two Stages but finished 2nd for the race. His previous non-race win high finish was P3 at 2017 Dover, 2018 Richmond and 2020 Atlanta.
  • Playoff Bubble driver, Daniel Suarez appeared to be in control of Stage 2 and poised to take the much needed 10 bonus points and 1 Playoff point for the Stage win. Truex, Jr. went to the whip in the final laps of the Stage, nipping Suarez for the Stage win.
  • Much of the “usual” competition at the front encountered issues throughout the race. Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Josh Berry (a last minute sub for the suspended Noah Gragson) all found the Michigan SAFER Barriers. William Byron dug a little too hard coming down from the Stage finish and his wall smack damage could not be repaired before the Damaged Vehicle Policy clock expired. Alex Bowman had to park his ride after encountering steering issues.
  • The drive of the race may have been Christopher Bell. On lap 66, Bell spun in Turn 2, doing damage to the right rear of the car. The team continued to repair the damage throughout the race and not only did Bell complete the 200 laps but brought the #20 Toyota home for a respectable 13th place finish.
  • The race came down to a duel between Truex, Jr. and eventual winner, Buescher. Prior to that, Tyler Reddick was in the hunt to make it a three-car race. A loose right rear tire late in the race eliminated his chances for the win.
  • Loop data reported 3333 Green Flag Passes with 1088 being Quality Passes (P1-P15). This means 2245 (67%) of the Green Flag Passes took place at the back of the field (P16-P37).
  • This is the fourth race in a row that the bulk of passes took place in the back of the field. This race’s 67% is the lowest percentage over that stretch of the season.
  • The 3333 Green Flag passes were up from last year’s 2207 (13.5/Green Flag Lap) but is short of the 3608 (21.1) of 2021.
  • The race saw 26 lead changes among 16 drivers, with Buescher taking the point for five times for a race high total of 52 laps. Just like in the race finish, Truex, Jr. was on Buescher’s rear bumper, moving to the point six times for 47 laps.
  • NASCAR reported 25 lead changes instead of 26. Christopher Bell started on the Pole and was passed by Ross Chastain before completing the first lap. This was counted as a Lead Change in the Unofficial Results and has been reported that way in previous races, but was not counted as such in the Official Results.
  • Of the 26 Lead Changes reported
    • 9 were Caution Flag Lead Changes
    • 17 were Green Flag Lead Changes
      • 4 were on Starts or Restarts
      • 1 resulted from the Leader Wrecking
      • 7 occurred when the Leader pitted under Green and gave the lead up.
      • 5 occurred when P2 raced past P1 to take the lead.
        • Martin Truex, Jr. had 3 RLC passes, while Christopher Bell and Chris Buescher had one each.
        • The final two RLC’s were the final two lead changes of the race as Truex, Jr. made his final run and Buescher retook the lead for the win.
  • With his three Racing Lead Changes, Truex, Jr. is firmly atop the Racing Lead Change Leaderboard with 16 RLCs in 7 different races. This is his fourth race in which he passed the Leader to take P1 multiple times, held it to the Start/Finish line to registered a Lead Change and did so without benefit of the field being bunch on a Start or Restart or the Leader giving up the lead because they pitted under Green. The Top 5 on the Racing Lead Change Leaderboard is as follows-
    • Martin Truex, Jr. 16 RLCs in 7 Races
    • Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano 10 RLC’s in 5 Races
    • Denny Hamlin 9 RLCs in 7 Races
    • Christopher Bell 9 RLCs in 5 Races
  • For the season, 134 Racing Lead Changes have been registered by 22 Drivers in the 4211 Green Flag Racing Laps run thus far. That means fans will see on average 1 Racing Lead Change every 31 Green Flag Racing Lap.
  • Stage 2 saw a Caution Flag early with the finish of the race being a 67 lap Green Flag run. During this extended run we saw the number of cars on the lead lap drop from 32 to 21. This is the
  • Martin Truex, Jr. leaves Michigan with 57 point lead over Denny Hamlin and 96 points ahead of William Byron. Since the maximum points a driver can make up in any race is 59 points, Truex, Jr. is almost a race ahead of Hamlin and approaching a two race lead over Byron. Not a bad race day overall.
Christopher Bell, spins in front of Erik Jones, after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 06, 2023 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Finally, a special thanks to all the fans who endured another wet weekend at the track. Your perseverance is to be commended. Thank you.

Now we’re back on the lead lap. Let’s see if we can get a quick caution, get some new Goodyears and some Sunoco fuel and stay on the lead lap for the Indy Deep Dive.

Thunder On… and Stay Safe!

David Nance

Photo Credit (cover): Meg Oliphant / Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.