Race Weekend Central

The Underdog House: Michigan vs Ohio

This weekend, the three NASCAR series were split among two different race tracks. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series were in Brooklyn at Michigan International Speedway. In the state just south, the NASCAR Xfinity Series raced at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. For the Truck Series, it was its regular season finale. Who shined in this edition of The Underdog House?

2019 Consumers Energy 400

The Consumers Energy 400 became a fuel mileage race. Kevin Harvick had enough to both win the race and celebrate with his son Keelan doing a burnout.

The only underdog to save enough to finish in the top 10 was Ryan Preece. The rookie driver gained 22 positions from the drop of the green flag to the wave of the checkered flag. He and JTG Daugherty Racing relished in his seventh-place finish. In this album, go to the fourth photo to see yours truly!


His teammate Chris Buescher finished 14th. His finish is noteworthy because he hasn’t finished worse than 18th in the last 12 races — including three top 10s. Neither driver is above the playoff cutline, but both drivers are showing improved consistency.

Ty Dillon, Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon finished 11th-13th, respectively. Ty drove a sporty lookin’ paint scheme with sponsor K&L Ready Mix. Newman gained two positions in the point standings and now has a 16-point margin over the playoff cut line.

I spoke with Austin Dillon before he qualified. He said he hoped qualifying was indicative of his race speed. After he was inside the top 15 in speed during qualifying, his time was disallowed for an inspection failure. When I saw him Saturday, he said he and his Richard Childress Racing team planned to use some differing pit strategy to get up front. He was involved in the lap 122 incident which ended the second stage, but recovered to finish on the lead lap. Overall, he gained 24 positions on the two-mile track.

2019 B&L Transport 170

In Lexington, Ohio, Xfinity Series drivers made left and right turns on 2.258-mile road course. Austin Cindric won, making him victorious in back-to-back races. Most notably, AJ Allmendinger finished in third place. It’s his first race where his finishing position was not disqualified due to post-race inspection. Six spots lower on the leaderboard was his teammate, Justin Haley. Haley never led any laps in the B&L Transport 170, but his eighth-place finish in the second stage and a ninth-place overall finish continue his strong rookie season.

Speaking of stage points, a number of underdogs earned them. In the first stage, Jeremy Clements finished third, Ryan Sieg finished fifth, Lawson Aschenbach finished eighth, Scott Heckert finished ninth and Josh Bilicki finished 10th. Some underdogs also nabbed stage points at the end of the second stage. Gray Gaulding finished sixth, Sieg finished seventh and Tommy Joe Martins finished 10th, earning his first career stage point. For those drivers and their respective teams, the next road course at Road America may be another opportunity to earn some points, receive some time in the spotlight, and be a highlight of their seasons.

In his Xfinity Series debut driving the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Jack Hawksworth started second. He led laps 37-41 and won the second stage. He ultimately finished 15th. Despite driving for a powerhouse team, Hawksworth displayed his talent for NASCAR fans.

The Underdog House notices hard working teams, and Brandonbilt Motorsports and Will Rodgers worked hard. Rodgers hopped out of his car due to an electrical fire in his No. 86 Chevrolet. Brandonbilt Motorsports repaired the car, and Rodgers regained its speed. He qualified 22nd, but after 75 laps, he was in 12th place. Nice job, Rodgers and Brandonbilt Motorsports!

2019 Corrigan Oil 200

The Corrigan Oil 200 featured aggression, possible upset entries into the playoffs, and carnage. Although MIS is not a superspeedway, the drafting and intensity level rivaled the racing at those bigger tracks.

Sheldon Creed came up 0.125 seconds shy of winning his first ever Truck Series race and making the playoffs in his rookie season. Alas, he finished second in back-to-back races.

Rookie Tyler Dippel told me he was confident he could win. He finished third, his career-best finish. Look for a Beyond the Cockpit featuring Dippel later this week as we discuss his season and cars!

With the focus on the playoffs, Bayley Currey finishing sixth may be overlooked. But he said it was something which could lead to more races with Niece Motorsports. He will continue to run Cup Series races with Rick Ware Racing and hopes to race some more with Niece Motorsports in the Truck Series.

Frankly, I don’t even recall seeing Ray Ciccarelli in the bullpen after the race. If he came by, his visit went unnoticed. The Underdog House congratulates him on his first career Truck Series top-10 finish.

Finally, Jordan Anderson finished the second stage in fourth place, and he was in position for a top five or top 10 finish. However, he was collected in the large lap 98 wreck, so he brought a damaged No. 3 Chevrolet home to a 14th-place finish. His performance reignited his spirit.

All three NASCAR series head next to Bristol Motor Speedway. The short track racing can be an opportunity for underdogs to use the bumper, gain a few positions, and earn praise here at The Underdog House.

About the author

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Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.

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