BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 5, 2001) - Andy Houston will make his second appearance in a Winston Cup car at Michigan Speedway during this weekend's (June 10) Kmart 400. His first appearance at the 2.0-mile oval will forever remain historic for the McDonald's rookie driver.
It was at Michigan Speedway during last year's August race where Houston made his Winston Cup debut. It was not only his maiden race in NASCAR's elite series, but it was also his audition to secure a ride for the 2001 season.
Houston passed the test with flying colors, and nine days after his inspiring debut, his lifelong dream was fulfilled when he was named by team owner Cal Wells to drive the McDonald's Winston cup entry in 2001.
"There was a lot of pressure on me to go out there and perform well," Houston said of his race day at Michigan. "I knew going into the race it was pretty much of a tryout even though they said it wasn't. I was pretty pleased with the way we ran and I was satisfied with the way I handled myself. It was a special day in my career. I guess you can say it was on that Sunday in Michigan that my dream of becoming a Winston Cup driver was getting closer to reality."
Starting 35th, Houston's patient driving style enabled him to pick his way through the field. He ran as high as sixth and was 12th when engine failure ended his day with 44 laps remaining.
"I sure had mixed emotions about our final result (35th)," Houston recalled. "I was happy I did the job that I came to do. But the way we were running, I felt we could have had a great finish had the engine problem not surfaced. As the race went on my confidence level was growing on each lap. Here I was, running neck-and-neck with the best drivers in the world. That was an awesome feeling.
"Let's just say I've learned plenty since my first Winston Cup ride last August in Michigan. We've been up and down so far in our rookie season, but our McDonald's Ford is getting closer to where we want to be."
Though the performance in Michigan enhanced his chances of getting the McDonald's 2001 Winston Cup ride, Houston had already built an impressive resume. The 30 year-old resident of Hickory, N.C. was a star driver in the NASCAR Sears Craftsman Truck Series where he compiled a career record of three wins, 24 top-fives and 42 top 10s in 80 starts.
"I really feel that we have the potential of having another great race in Michigan this weekend," Houston said. "We had a strong run in Dover last week and I know that everyone on the team is excited about returning to Michigan."