Michigan: This Week in Ford Racing, part 1

This Week in Ford Racing June 14, 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Michigan International Speedway has been a source of good luck for Ford since opening up in 1969. No manufacturer has posted more NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series wins at the two-mile...

This Week in Ford Racing
June 14, 2005

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series

Michigan International Speedway has been a source of good luck for Ford since opening up in 1969. No manufacturer has posted more NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series wins at the two-mile oval than Ford, which has won at least once at the facility in 19 of the last 21 years

* Ford has won the most NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races at Michigan with 27. Chevrolet is second with 16 while Mercury is third with 12 and Dodge fourth with six.

* Ford has the most poles at MIS as well with 22, compared to 18 for Chevrolet and five for Dodge.

* 11 different Ford drivers have posted 27 victories in 71 all-time series races at MIS.

* When the Mercury brand is included the win total jumps to 39.

* Ford has won four out of the last six MIS races by four different drivers -- Matt Kenseth ('02), Dale Jarrett ('02), Kurt Busch ('03) and Greg Biffle ('04).

* Bill Elliott posted seven MIS wins with Ford, including consecutive sweeps in 1985 and '86.

* The Wood Brothers won the first race at MIS when Cale Yarborough piloted a Mercury to victory in the Motor State 500 on June 15, 1969.

* Kurt Busch became the youngest driver to win a Cup race at MIS when he captured the Sirius 400 in 2003 at the age of 24 years, 10 months and 11 days.

* Three of the top four all-time winning car owners at MIS currently run Fords, including the Wood Brothers (11), Jack Roush (7), and Robert Yates (6). Harry Melling won all seven of his MIS races with Bill Elliott in a Ford from 1984-89.

Taurus is on the brink of its 100th victory in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, entering this weekend's race at MIS with 99 all-time wins (including the Budweiser Shootout and All-Star Challenge). Following are some tidbits about Taurus, which debuted in 1998.

* Rusty Wallace led Taurus to a win in its debut race (1998 Budweiser Shootout).

* Mark Martin registered the first points win for Taurus at Las Vegas in the third race of 1998, and led a Ford sweep that included the top seven finishers and 13 of the top 14.

* Dale Jarrett leads all Ford drivers with 18 wins (including the Shootout and All-Star Challenge) while Martin is second with 15.

* Taurus has won point races at all but three NNC tracks (Chicagoland, Kansas, and Watkins Glen).

* Taurus has won its most point races at Bristol (9), and has won at least five times at 13 tracks.

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, has four of his 34 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series wins at MIS. Martin, who is currently fifth in the point standings, was this week's guest on the weekly national teleconference.

MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS WEEKEND?

"It all feels awesome. We have really, really been strong at Michigan the last several times we've run. It's pretty exciting. Batman Begins is a highly anticipated movie. There's a lot of anticipation. It's gonna be a really cool movie and I can't wait to go see it. To be a part of the whole thing and, of course, having them sponsor the race as well on Sunday. The Salute to You Tour is going right on schedule and better than I ever could have dreamed. With the way it went at the all-star race, that added a little bit of extra pizzazz to some of the things we're doing and we've had some good times already with the fans and many more cool things planned in the future."

ARE WE GIVING THESE YOUNG DRIVERS ENOUGH TIME TO DEVELOP ON AND OFF THE TRACK?

"It's always gonna be skewed toward the younger drivers - the accidents. I mean, in 1977 every time there was a wreck in front of me I was in it. I didn't cause 'em, but I was in 'em. And I couldn't understand how the veterans like Dick Trickle and some of the guys I raced with why they weren't in 'em. And then a couple years later I figured it out just because you miss 'em more often when you have more experience. So I think that's something you're always gonna deal with. I think it was that way to some degree when we got started in NASCAR too, but most of the NASCAR drivers that are veterans today had tons more experience racing when we got a chance to race NASCAR. Part of that is the learning curve, but it's a different world today. That's something you're gonna deal with. You're gonna deal with inexperienced drivers - to some degree - on the race track and off the race track as well because this sport is leaning toward younger drivers, but there's nothing wrong with that. I'm a big supporter of these young guys. They're the best young guys in motorsports right now and there are some more that are younger than them coming that are even better than some of them are, so it's a real exciting time in motorsports and in NASCAR, in my opinion."

IS THE ARCA-BUSCH-CUP A GOOD IDEA THAT MIGHT WORK FOR YOUNG DRIVERS?

"That would work, but that's just a high-profile way that it's always been done. It's always been done that way - from short tracks back home to ARCA to Busch to Cup. It's no different than it ever was, but Ryan Newman made it a little bit more popular because he was a higher profile guy, but it's an exciting time for NASCAR in motorsports. I'm telling you, some of these young guys that are coming along are gonna make old men out of these 25-year-olds."

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DRIVE WITH THE BATMAN CAPE ON?

"It works well in the car, believe it or not. As long as it doesn't get up in my eyes I'll be fine."

WHAT IS THE POTENTIAL FOR WOMEN TO MAKE IT IN CUP?

"I think it's gonna happen; I just don't know when and where. Obviously, Danica (Patrick) has been able to breathe new life into Indy Car racing, and I think that's fantastic. And although NASCAR is not gasping for air right now, when it happens it's gonna breathe some more new life into NASCAR too. There's nothing and never has been anything stopping it from happening, we just haven't had our Danica Patrick lately. That just hasn't happened in NASCAR, that's all."

HAS THE EQUIPMENT BEEN AN ISSUE FOR WOMEN?

"They have to earn the equipment just like all the rest of us have. Danica has earned her equipment and earned her opportunity. It just didn't materialize out of air. She earned it one piece at a time starting at 10 years old and that'll have to happen to the NASCAR driver as well."

DO YOU SEE MORE GIRLS AROUND MATT'S AGE COMING UP NOW?

"I've seen some girls coming up through quarter midget racing and all that were outstanding and were as good on a national level as any of these guys, but what happens is along the way there aren't nearly as many girls as there are boys, and along the way a certain percentage of the girls and certain percentage of the boys get distracted and don't wind up fulfilling their potential. So it doesn't happen. But that happens to the boys and girls."

IT'S MARK MARTIN DAY ON WEDNESDAY IN DAYTONA. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?

"Yeah, it's kind of weird because, gosh, if you ask me I had never done anything at Daytona. It's cool. I remember coming down here in 1973 and '74 as a young teenager thinking that Daytona Beach was the coolest place on earth. I can't believe that not only do I live here, but somebody thinks enough of me to give me the honor."

THE PEPSI 400 WILL MARK YOUR LAST CUP RACE AT DAYTONA. HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THAT AT ALL?

"I sure haven't. I kind of know where you're going with asking the question because I've been asked the question a lot this year. Maybe, possibly, when we get into the last time at some of these race tracks, maybe it'll trigger something in my mind and I'll realize it. But when we went to Vegas I didn't think about this being the last time I'm gonna race here in a Cup car. I'm just really not concerned about that. I am really, really busy. I've never been so busy in all my life. I've barely had time to eat, sleep or do anything else that's essential. We're working real hard at this Salute to You Tour and doing some cool stuff with the fans and taking care of our race sponsors, and, first and foremost, trying to keep our eye on the target performance-wise with this race team."

HOW DOES THE DAYTONA 500 AND PEPSI 400 AT DAYTONA FEEL DIFFERENT?

"I've never really differentiated that much between the two because you still have the same challenges either race. The 500 is seemingly a very long race, almost a marathon. It's a tough race to run all day and finish without an event. It seems to be a very eventful race mechanically and accident-wise and everything else. Whereas the July race is a little more straightforward, a little bit more normal feeling race."

"First of all, you missed the mark on a couple of things there. The statement you made that no one wanted to give them the equipment, that's not true. That is not true. When you're Danica Patrick and you're 10 years old and you're standing next to another 10-year-old and you're go-kart racing or you're quarter midget racing, that's your opportunity. And if you go out there and you win, win, win, and you have to do that. Every boy that is in NASCAR today did that. They went and they won, and they won, and they won, and they made their opportunity. The same goes for the females. They have to do the same thing and there haven't been the standouts, you know, have not been there all the way up until their mid-20s. In the old days, they had to race until they were 30 before you'd ever get a shot at NASCAR. Now you're getting a shot at late teens or early 20s and people are taking notice. That's one of the things that has helped, along with the sponsorships that are out there today. You can make a great package. Just look at Danica and her success. That could be done in NASCAR. That could be done in Formula One for crying out loud. Can you imagine the stir? That would be so cool. There's no physical reason why it can't happen, and there's also no reason why it won't happen. It just takes the right person with the right tools with the right drive with no distractions being in the right place at the right time to get the opportunity and, bam, it could happen."

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Dick Trickle , Rusty Wallace , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jack Roush , Robert Yates , Cale Yarborough , Danica Patrick , Mark Martin