NASCAR’s big 3 run strong at Michigan, too

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

BROOKLYN, Mich. — NASCAR’s Big 3 has essentially lapped the competition.

Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have combined to win 16 of 22 races and haven’t allowed the field to win consecutive races with points at stake this year. Of the other 56 drivers who have started a race, only Clint Bowyer has won twice.

That could potentially change today in the Consumers Energy 400 because Chase Elliott won last week at Watkins Glen.

Chances are, though, one of the series’ top three drivers will finish first.

Busch and Truex drive a Toyota while Harvick is in a Ford. Clearly, it helps to have one of those manufacturers on your side this season.

Toyota drivers have won 11 races and Ford has nine first-place finishes.

“They got everything together,” Ryan Newman, who drives the No. 31 Chevy, said on Saturday after practice. “They’ve got great downforce, horsepower, tires. Drivers are doing their job and collectively their organizations are strong.

“Stewart-Haas Racing as well as the Toyota camp seems to be strong right now and have been all year.”

Chevrolet, meanwhile, has won just two races and Kyle Larson, who is eighth in points, is its only driver among the top 10 in the standings.

“We’re trying to catch up,” said Newman, who will start sixth. “We were prepared as well as we thought we needed to be.

“As it turns out, we needed to be more prepared and you can see the results across the Chevrolet camp.”

Some other things to know for the Cup race:

BEST OF REST

Bowyer, who will start 16th, has a chance to get closer to the Big 3 and create more separation from the pack. He won his second race at the series’ previous stop at MIS in June. Four other drivers have won one race this year.

CHASE’S CHANCE

Elliott won his first Cup race last week, in his 99th start, to put him in the playoffs.

“I’ve been on the other end of the stick these past two years and it’s such a nice feeling to come into these last few races and know that you’re locked-in to the deal,” he said.

Elliott has had three runner-up finishes at MIS.