NASCAR: Consumers Energy 400-Practice

Joey Logano looks on during practice for the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Given that Joey Logano is a three-time winner at Michigan International Speedway — not to mention the winner of the June 2019 race at the 2-mile track — you might think the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion would be in favor of keeping things status quo.

But that’s not the case when it comes to the application of PJ1 Traction compound. This weekend at Michigan, for the first time on an International Speedway Corporation track, PJ1 likely will play a role in widening the workable racing surface.

And Logano is all for it.

“I’ve been all good with the PJ1 pretty much anywhere we’ve gone so far,” Logano said on Friday at MIS, site of Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). “I think it has (done) nothing but help and improve the racing and widen the race track out. Obviously, it’s the first time for it here, and we were all in qualifying trim the first practice (Friday) and we didn’t touch it.”

No, the Cup drivers didn’t go near the PJ1 in opening practice, because the traction compound was applied in the outside lanes. While it wasn’t a factor in Friday’s qualifying session, when the bottom lane was the quick way around the circuit, it doubtless will play a role on Sunday when 38 cars are looking for racing room.

“The PJ1 is something that we are all still learning about, and we are learning about how it works at each (track),” Logano said. “It works different at Charlotte than it does at Michigan or Bristol or Kentucky — the way it gets activated and wears out and how much grip it actually puts back into the race track.

“Those are all things that we are trying to figure out, and as a sport we are trying to figure it out. I like the avenue we are going down and playing with.”

NO MORE KNOXVILLE NATIONALS FOR LARSON

Kyle Larson knew the score when he entered the Knoxville Nationals this year. A lackluster preliminary would end his chances for the one of the dirt titles he covets most.

Besides, his day job with Chip Ganassi Racing is far too important. Larson is 14th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings with four races left in the regular season, and he’s not locked into the playoffs.

So when Larson failed to advance to the feature at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway on Wednesday, he knew the logistics for a Friday return just wouldn’t work, given the 5:05 p.m. qualifying start time at Michigan.

“I’ve always said that, if I didn’t have a good prelim night, I wouldn’t be able to go back,” Larson said on Friday afternoon at MIS. “It’s a bummer, but like I said, I already knew it going into it. I just needed to do better on Wednesday.”

Nor will Larson try to make his way through multiple races on Saturday. Instead, he will return to Knoxville to cheer on the winged 410 sprint car he fields for driver Carson Macedo.

“No, we wouldn’t race on Saturday because, with me not racing tonight, I’d have to start like last in the E-main, and it’s pretty much impossible to transfer. I couldn’t pass anybody the other night, so why would I be able to pass people tomorrow?”

For those who might question if Larson’s racing in other series might hurt his Cup effort, he has a definitive answer.

“To me, the way I view it, the more often I’m racing, the better I’m becoming,” said Larson, who qualified 17th for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400.

“I would race every single day of the week if I could, and I believe it would help me.”

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