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Kevin Harvick is driver to beat at Michigan

Here are our projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan.

Projected finish: NSCS at Michigan

Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, prerace on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 2-mile D-oval superspeedway) and time of year.

Harvick’s driving a rocket

Kevin Harvick's No. 4 Chevrolet has looked more like a rocket ship than a stock car this week. Harvick finished fourth, third, third and first in prerace workouts, and rolls off from the pole.

According to Jayski.com, Harvick is running chassis No. 842 this weekend. He last raced this car at Kansas, where he won the pole and finished second.

Before that, the car led 224 of 312 laps en route to winning at Phoenix. Combined with the fact that Harvick finished second in both Michigan races last year makes him the driver to watch.

Earnhardt looking for back-to-back wins

Dale Earnhardt Jr. picked up the win last week at Pocono, passing Brad Keselowski with five laps to go when trash on Keselowski’s grill threatened to overheat his car.

Now, Earnhardt will try to do something he’s never done in his Cup career: win back-to-back races. Michigan could be his best bet. Two of his four wins since joining Hendrick Motorsports have come at Michigan.

Hendrick Motorsports going for fifth straight

Hendrick Motorsports has won the last four Sprint Cup Series races -- one apiece by Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt, and two by Jimmie Johnson.

Dating back to 1970, there have been only three win streaks of at least five races by a single NSCS team. Hendrick itself did it twice in 2007 and Petty Enterprises did it in 1971, when Richard Petty won five straight on his own.

Expect drama late in the race

Late-race drama is always in play at Michigan, as six of the last 12 races here have been decided by a lead change in the final 10 laps, including in the fall race here.

In that race, Joey Logano passed Mark Martin with four to go to pick up his third career Cup Series win.