JUNE RACE AT MIS HAS HAD ITS SHARE OF GREAT MOMENTS BROOKLYN, Mich. -- The 3M Performance 400 for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will continue the great tradition of June events at Michigan International Speedway. With the exception of the ...
JUNE RACE AT MIS HAS HAD ITS SHARE OF GREAT MOMENTS
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- The 3M Performance 400 for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will continue the great tradition of June events at Michigan International Speedway. With the exception of the energy-crisis year of 1973, MIS has hosted two NASCAR weekends every year since the inaugural stock car race in 1969.
Following are some of the more memorable moments from the June race at MIS over the years:
1969 -- Cale Yarborough, driving a Wood Brothers Mercury, wins the first-ever NASCAR event at MIS on June 15, 1969, in a thrilling duel with LeeRoy Yarbrough. The two drivers battled door-to-door for most of the final 150 laps. On their final circuit, they touched twice-entering turn one, with Yarbrough brushing the outside wall. They then drafted down the back straight, and through turn three. But while coming out of the final turn, LeeRoy Yarbrough spun and crashed just 300 yards from the finish line, handing the victory to Yarborough.
1972 -- David Pearson, the most winning NASCAR driver in MIS history, wins the June race for the first time in his first season with the Wood Brothers team. The Spartanburg, S.C., driver known as the "Silver Fox" won the event again in 1973, 1975 and 1976 and leads all drivers with nine career wins and 10 poles at MIS.
1980 -- Benny Parsons, who grew up in nearby Detroit, scores his first and only NASCAR win at MIS. Parsons was known throughout his career as the "former Detroit cab driver" and had long desired a win at MIS. He got it by one car length over hard-charging Cale Yarborough in a race that featured 25 lead changes among five drivers. Parsons is now a popular TV and radio personality.
1981 -- Bobby Allison wins at MIS in a wild finish. Allison's Buick was among the leaders and escaped unharmed when Kyle Petty blew an engine just in front of them with only a few laps left in the race. Buddy Baker, Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip weren't so lucky as they crashed in the oil. Allison won under caution, one of his four career wins at MIS.
1984 -- Bill Elliott begins his domination of MIS by winning the June event in a Ford owned by Michigan businessman Harry Melling. Elliott went on to score three consecutive wins in the event from 1984-86. The popular driver from Dawsonville, Ga., won six of the eight NASCAR events held at MIS from 1984-87 and added a seventh win in 1989.
1986 -- Richard Petty makes his 1000th career start in NASCAR's top series when he fires up his engine for the June race at MIS. Petty started a total of 1,185 races in his storied career and won 200, both all-time NASCAR records. Petty recorded four victories at MIS ('74, '75, '79, '81) and added two pole positions ('72, '76). Over his career, he ran over 17,000 miles at MIS in 47 starts.
1992 -- Richard Petty's daughters send him off on Father's Day. The June event at MIS, as it often has over the years, was held on Father's Day. As a surprise for Petty, who was in his final season of driving, it was arranged for his three daughters, Sharon, Lisa and Rebecca, to give the "start engines" command. In unison, they said "Daddy, and gentlemen, start your engines!"
1997 -- Ernie Irvan scores an emotional win, three years after he was seriously injured in a practice crash in August of 1994 at MIS. The win, which turned out to be Irvan's final NASCAR top-series victory, came in a Robert Yates Racing Ford. Irvan, now retired from driving, is an active advocate for brain injury prevention awareness.
1999 -- Dale Jarrett sets the track 400-mile race average speed record of 173.997 mph in winning for car owner Robert Yates. The race was run without a caution flag, the third time that has happened in track history, and lasted just two hours, 17 minutes and 56 seconds. Forty-one cars were still running at the finish of the race, also a track record.
2003 -- Kurt Busch becomes the youngest driver ever to win a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at MIS at the age of 24 years, 10 months and 11 days. Busch drove a Roush Racing Ford to a six-car-length win over Bobby Labonte.
2005 -- The Caped Crusader himself, Batman, stands on the MIS start-finish line and gives the command to start engines for the event known as "Batman Begins 400." The race had a one-year title sponsorship from the then-new theatrical movie of the same name. It was the first time ever that a movie had sponsored a NASCAR race.
Race fans visiting MIS for the 3M Performance 400 can re-live more track history by visiting the AAA Motorsports Fan Plaza and touring the MIS Walk through History. The Top 10 Moments in track history are incorporated into the display.