NASCAR Cup Series drivers excited to return to Michigan International Speedway

Austin Dillon, Anthony Alfredo preview August 22 race
Austin Dillon ready to return to MIS
Posted at 1:55 PM, Aug 03, 2021

(WXMI) — The NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway is just 19 days away.

"We kind of have that one circled, it's a great track for us, MIS is," said Austin Dillon.

And Dillon is just one of the drivers in the field that has had a lot of success at the track, with a pair of top-fives in his 17 starts, plus a win in the Xfinity series back in 2018.

NASCAR Cup Series drivers excited to return to Michigan

"We've had a lot of success there in the past," Dillon added. "When you run well, you start to build confidence. I like that you can change your line and build momentum, restarts are pretty intense."

Others like 22-year-old Anthony Alfredo of Front Row Motorsports are still learning the ropes in the Cup Series.

However, Alfredo comes from a background that many fans can root for.

"I like to consider myself kind of the people's driver," Alfredo smiled, "I didn't grow up with any blood in the sport or anyone who raced. I just grew up a car guy because of my dad, my parents used to go to race tracks long before I was born."

Anthony Alfredo
Anthony Alfredo (38) at a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, July 18, 2021, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Alfredo is in his rookie season in NASCAR's top series, racing the No. 38 Ford. He has raced an ARCA and Truck Series race over the past few years at MIS and it's a race he's now looking forward to.

"I think Michigan is a unique one with it being two miles long and them applying the traction compound," said Alfredo, "I think there are some characteristics there that could work in our favor and allow us to get a solid finish."

NASCAR has changed its schedule this season to more short track and road course races, meaning Michigan only has one race in the 2021 season instead of the typical two.

MIS Track President, Rick Brenner is looking at the positives.

"We feel fortunate," Brenner told FOX 17, "we have one of very few locations in the country or the world for that matter that hosts a NASCAR Cup Series weekend, we're excited to make the most of it and enjoy it with the community and fans."

Michigan International Speedway
Drivers cross the start-finish line during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Austin Dillon says he thinks the change is positive but not permanent.

"Sometimes you just want to change it up, I think we'll see speedways and bigger tracks soon going back to them," Dillon said.

And Dillon is one of the many veterans with big goals at Michigan including being hopeful for a seventh top ten or even a win to lock himself into the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Alfredo, driving for a small budget team like Front Row is just hoping for a top 20 or better.

"I don't know why I'm optimistic about that Michigan race," he chuckled, "I think a top 15 would be really cool and I think it's doable."

Austin Dillon
NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon walks to his car before a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Sunday, May 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

With the race being in the backyard of General Motors and Ford, there is some pressure for the drivers to put on a good show.

"It's a big week going there, manufacturers always circle that race and if we can lock ourselves into the playoffs there, it would mean a lot," said Dillon.

The green flag of the FireKeepers Casino 400 is expected to drop at 3:00 PM on August 22nd.