Posted 08/18/2012 at 03:27 PM
Two-time Michigan winner Greg Biffle was fastest in Saturday’s early practice session at Michigan International Speedway. Biffle’s lap of 200.362 mph made him the only driver between the two weekend practices run thus far to top 200 mph. Biffle was also fastest in the June Michigan race during practices topping 204 mph.
Biffle doing well shouldn’t come as a surprise considering who he drives for and the car he’s using this week. Jack Roush has won 11 races at Michigan as a car owner, a track considered the Roush-Fenway home track. Biffle finished fourth in the June race and is using his third-place Brickyard car this week.
Kasey Kahne was second fastest in Friday’s practice and followed that up with repeat as the second fastest (198.588) Saturday morning's 55-minute session. Kahne has one win at Michigan (2006) over his career.
Carl Edwards finished third fastest (198.555) and has the look of being a driver that should be very competitive in Sunday's race based on his Friday and Saturday sessions. Edwards hasn’t been able to find speed during practices on the big tracks that require lots of horsepower, but they look like they’re onto something this weekend.
Edwards has the best career average finish at Michigan (8.4) and should find comfort in the fact that he’s using his Las Vegas chassis, which finished fifth, one of only two top-5 finishes on the season for the No. 99 team. He has two wins at Michigan, the last coming in 2008.
Edwards may not be doing a flip after the race, but this may be his best chance of the season to at least practice his victory celebration a little bit. You’d think he might be a little rusty considering his last Cup flip came at Las Vegas last season.
Mark Martin has five wins at Michigan and will be starting from the pole for the fourth time this season. He came in with the fourth fastest lap (198.178) of the session, continuing what great June test and practice sessions.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had the fifth fastest lap showing that Friday’s practice session, where he finished 22nd, means very little to his overall equation this week. Junior is using his winning car from June and his last two wins -- and only two with Hendrick Motorsports -- have come at Michigan.
Marcos Ambrose ran the most laps of the session (36), but was only able to capture the 20th fastest lap. Martin, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer all ran 35 laps.
Busch led a group of five drivers that ran 10-consecutive laps or more with the fastest average which might be a sign he may be able to repeat his winning fall performance from last season. The timing couldn’t better for Busch who is outside looking in at the Chase.
Jimmie Johnson changed an engine during the session and will have to start Sunday's race from the rear.
"The guys saw something in warm up this morning and we were trying to sort through it before practice started," Johnson told ESPN this morning. "They took a deeper look at things right before practice started and decided to change it. We didn't want to oil the track or create an issue and crash our car."