Michigan: Petty Enterprises race report

Fuel mileage almost played another critical role in a race at the Michigan International Speedway. Carl Edwards had just enough to win Sunday's Citizens Bank 400 at the two mile oval. His victory over Martin Truex, Jr. ended the 12-race winning...

Fuel mileage almost played another critical role in a race at the Michigan International Speedway. Carl Edwards had just enough to win Sunday's Citizens Bank 400 at the two mile oval. His victory over Martin Truex, Jr. ended the 12-race winning streak for Chevrolet.

Of the ten Dodge Chargers that started the race, only two were able to garner top-25 finishes on a hot day in the Irish Hills. For Petty Enterprises, the race was a tale of two ill-handling cars. Each team, however, had different symptoms. As is usually the case at Michigan, long green flag runs gave the crew chiefs few opportunities to correct the problems. Both teams fought hard and showed a resiliency that will serve them well as the season progresses.

John Andretti and the #45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge team used an outstanding work ethic to grind out at 27th place finish. Sunday marked the first race in the four race reunion for Andretti and Petty Enterprises. He owns the last Nextel Cup victory for the organization. At the start of the race, Andretti had to fight a car that was loose at the entry and exit of each corner. As the race unfolded, crew chief Billy Wilburn adjusted the car to the liking of Andretti. This was evident as his lap times improved. Andretti was two laps down when he took the checkered flag, but he was encouraged by the work of his team.

"It was great to get back into a Petty Enterprises car. It brought back a lot of good memories," said Andretti. "This team really worked hard in the pits today. We made gains on our car on every pit stop. We were much better at the end of the race, but the hole we were in was already too big. Billy and I work well together. We learned a lot that will help us when we get to New Hampshire for my next race."

Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team had to fight a car that was a polar opposite from his teammate. His car began the race too tight to allow the three-time Michigan winner to keep his Dodge power plant wound up. Crew chief Paul Andrews threw a myriad of changes at the car. By lap 88, Labonte radioed that the car had loosened up. He was able to race the car hard on the few restarts of the race. It looked as though a top-20 finish would be within their grasps, but the car would never stabilize enough for that to happen. Labonte took the crossed the finish line three laps down.

"We just never could get the car to drive comfortably today," said Labonte. "It was on edge for the biggest part of the race. Paul threw a lot of stuff at it. The car just never responded like it should have. We'll have to look at it when we get back to the shop. I am proud of my guys, though. We never quit today."

-credit: pe

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Bobby Labonte , Martin Truex Jr. , Carl Edwards