El­liott look­ing for a win in Michi­gan

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - Staff RE­PORT NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

When Chase El­liott trav­els to Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speed­way, he must feel like Sisy­phus – the king in Greek mythol­ogy forced to roll a boul­der up a hill, and when he reaches the pin­na­cle, the boul­der rolls off, forc­ing him to re­peat the process for all of eter­nity.

The No. 24 Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports driver has made three Mon­ster En­ergy NASCAR Cup Se­ries starts in the Wolver­ine State and has fin­ished sec­ond all three times.

“It’s great,” El­liott said about the two-mile track, which hosts Sun­day’s Pure Michi­gan 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN). “It’s also frus­trat­ing to have run sec­ond ev­ery time we have been there. It’s good I guess that we are in­side the top five the past few times we have been there, but at the same time that is frus­trat­ing to have been pretty close to hav­ing a shot to win there, which would have been very big if we could have pulled that out.

El­liott en­ters Sun­day’s con­test com­ing off a se­ries of solid, yet un­spec­tac­u­lar per­for­mances. He placed 13th last week at Watkins Glen, 10th at Po­cono, 39th at In­di­anapo­lis due to en­gine trou­ble and 11th at New Hamp­shire. Still he ranks 14th on the play­off grid, 39 points ahead of Clint Bowyer on the cut­off line. El­liott has lit­tle mar­gin of er­ror when it comes to mak­ing the post­sea­son, but can guar­an­tee him­self a play­off berth by grab­bing a win at Michi­gan.

“I like Michi­gan, I’ve al­ways liked go­ing up there,” El­liott said. “I re­ally love that area. It’s just a cool part of the United States to go to. I like it up there – it’s a nice area and that is kind of why I like go­ing.”

El­liott Sadler is sit­ting high and mighty atop the NASCAR XFIN­ITY Se­ries stand­ings right now – 52 points ahead of Wil­liam By­ron.

He leads the cir­cuit with five stage wins, but hasn’t vis­ited Vic­tory Lane at the end of a race this sea­son. As a re­sult, he trails the three-race, two-stage win­ner By­ron by 12 play­off points.

A win in Satur­day’s Mid-Ohio Chal­lenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) would help Sadler close the gap and in­crease his odds of cap­tur­ing his first NASCAR XFIN­ITY Se­ries cham­pi­onship.

Sadler has fin­ished in the top 10 in all four of his ca­reer starts at Mid-Ohio. He has a high fin­ish of sixth at the 13-turn road course (2013, 2015) – the sec­ond of three road course races on the XFIN- ITY sched­ule. The No. 1 Chevro­let driver placed 18th in the first road­course race at Watkins Glen last Satur­day.

“Last week­end, we got a good look at what our road course pro­gram will be like for these next cou­ple of races,” Sadler said. “With the first road race un­der our belt, we now know what we can ex­pect. We can re­ally dial in on the handling of our Chevro­let and our strat­egy. We had a fast car last week­end, just had a lit­tle bit of bad luck. I like Mid-Ohio – this week­end should be fun.”

No driver in the NASCAR Camp­ing World Truck Se­ries is run­ning bet­ter than Christo­pher Bell right now.

The Ok­la­homan has won three of the last six six races, in­clud­ing two of the last three. In 12 starts this sea­son, Bell boasts four wins, eight top fives, 11 top 10s and a 5.6 av­er­age fin­ish. He ranks first in the Camp­ing World Truck Se­ries stand­ings – 18 points ahead of sec­ond- place Johnny Sauter.

Bell will go for a fifth vic­tory in Satur­day’s LTI Print­ing 200 at Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speed­way ( 1 p. m. ET on FS1). He fin­ished 24th in his lone start at the two- mile track last year af­ter an in­ci­dent on Lap 75.

“I ran re­ally well at Michi­gan last year un­til I crashed go­ing for the lead late in the race, so I’m look­ing for­ward to go­ing back there this year and try­ing to re­deem my­self,” Bell said. “Rudy ( Fu­gle, crew chief) had a re­ally fast Tun­dra there last year with Wil­liam ( By­ron) – he and I worked re­ally well to­gether and were able to stay up front most of the race. Michi­gan is a place that you can’t re­ally drive away from peo­ple, so you have to make sure that your truck han­dles well in the draft. Us­ing all the aero tech­niques that you have in your arse­nal is go­ing to be the key to suc­cess this week­end.”

GETTY IMAGES FOR NASCAR

Chase El­liott, driver of the #24 NAPA Chevro­let, leads David Ragan, driver of the #38 Over­ton’s Ford, and Der­rike Cope, driver of the #55 Sun­dance Va­ca­tions Toyota, dur­ing the Mon­ster En­ergy NASCAR Cup Se­ries Over­ton’s 400 at Po­cono Race­way on July 30 in Long Pond, Pa.

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