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OBSERVATIONS: Consumers Energy 400

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While there shouldn’t be any questions about the speed of Kevin Harvick, the remaining doubts were certainly erased on Sunday when he dominated the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

A lot has been made about the big three – Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Harvick – and which of those will go into the playoffs with the most momentum. With the final 10 races consisting of a majority of intermediates, including the host of the season-finale, this was a message sent to the field that you better up your game if you’re going to walk away with the championship trophy this season. That’s showcased by the Stewart-Haas Racing team now boasting the most playoff points with 40, compared to Busch’s 35.

That said, Busch ran up front as well on Sunday as he was third in the final rundown with a brand new chassis from Joe Gibbs Racing. Clearly, they haven’t pushed it far enough based on what we saw though.

In-between the pair was a familiar foe of them both in the form of Brad Keselowski, who turns the ship around with a runner-up after three finishes outside of the top-15.

The biggest surprise here is the fact that Team Penske has only won a single race this year, coming at Talladega Superspeedway with Joey Logano. But that’ll happen when three competitors from other organizations are dominating, I suppose. After all, Hendrick Motorsports got their first win of the year last weekend. Team Penske may be next to break through as Ryan Blaney joined Keselowski in the top-five with a fifth.

Austin Dillon has a win this year, as he opened the year in victory lane with the Daytona 500. Since then, we haven’t heard much from the Richard Childress Racing driver. However, he showed speed with a fourth so the next few weeks could be interesting to see where the momentum goes.

While there are plenty of talking points when it comes to the playoffs, the actual race itself was just average. You had some side-by-side battles for position, but mostly the field was spread out throughout the day and strategy at the end only adding a touch of spice. Also, at times when you’d have battles in the pack, NBC just focused on the top-five single-file so that made nap time more attractive.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.