Brooklyn II: Ford Racing preview

NASCAR Winston Cup Michigan International Speedway is the home track for manufacturers and Ford Racing has proven to be the best at the two-mile facility. Below are some statistics and tidbits on Ford and its drivers at MIS: * Ford has won...

NASCAR Winston Cup

Michigan International Speedway is the home track for manufacturers and Ford Racing has proven to be the best at the two-mile facility. Below are some statistics and tidbits on Ford and its drivers at MIS:

* Ford has won 22 of the last 35 NASCAR Winston Cup races (63%) at MIS from 1985-Present.

* Ford has won 24 series races in the track's history. Chevrolet has 16 wins while Pontiac and Dodge have four apiece. Other manufacturers with MIS wins include: Mercury (12), Buick (4) and Oldsmobile (2)

* Matt Kenseth's win in June means Ford will have a chance to sweep at MIS for the 7th time in track history.

* Mark Martin has 33 NWC wins with four of those coming at MIS, the most he has at any series track.

* The Wood Brothers lead all car owners with 11 MIS victories (8 with David Pearson, 2 with Cale Yarborough and 1 with Dale Jarrett).

* In fact, this Sunday's Pepsi 400 will mark the 11-year anniversary of Dale Jarrett's first NWC win, which came with the Wood Brothers on August 18, 1991 at MIS.

Last Thursday, NASCAR announced a rules change in which the Chevrolet Monte Carlo will receive an additional one-inch kickout of its front air dam and the Pontiac Grand Prix will get an extra one-half inch. Ford Racing NASCAR Winston Cup Program Manager Linas Orentas provided the manufacturer's reaction.

LINAS ORENTAS, Ford NASCAR Winston Cup Program Manager:

"It's unfortunate NASCAR decided to do something like this because we feel it's unwarranted. When you look at which drivers have led the most laps this season, four of the top five represent General Motors. Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson are first and second in laps led. Tony has won three races and Jimmie has won two, so we don't feel the data supports their claim that they need help. Michael Waltrip won at Daytona and Kevin Harvick won at Chicago last month, so to say that Chevrolet hasn't been competitive is simply wrong."

Ernie Irvan, former driver of the No. 28 Texaco Havoline Ford, won 15 NASCAR Winston Cup races during his career, but none was more memorable than his victory in the 1997 Miller 400 at Michigan International Speedway -- a place where he nearly lost his life in 1994 and eventually forced him to retire after a practice accident in 1999. Irvan recently spoke about retirement and gave his thoughts on MIS, site of this weekend's Pepsi 400.

ERNIE IRVAN -- HOW ARE YOU ENJOYING RETIREMENT? "The alternative was a lot worse than retirement. The key to this whole deal is that I retired from being a race car driver, I didn't retire from living. I'm still able to pay attention to my family and watch my kids grow up and be a part of their life and be a part of all the things that are going on in motorsports as long as I can."

WHAT KIND OF INVOLVEMENT DO YOU STILL HAVE IN RACING? "I've been trying to help an up-and-coming driver in Kevin Conway and we've been trying to put some things together for him. He's got a lot of talent, but you can't really show that talent until you get the opportunity and I've been working with Kevin to try and get him something so he can show that he's got the talent to do it."

HOW CLOSELY DO YOU FOLLOW THE NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES? "I follow the sport. I don't come to very many races, maybe two or three a year, but I pretty much watch and listen every week."

WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THIS SEASON? "Obviously, there was a lot of big news about what Tony (Stewart) did at Indy, but as far as the season, it's been very competitive. I think NASCAR is governing everything with an iron fist and I feel they're doing a good job as far as making sure that the playing field is somewhat equal. It's just hard. I wouldn't want their job because everybody else is trying to make it unequal. All of the manufacturers are doing everything they can to get an advantage and that makes it tough. NASCAR has to take and evaluate all of this stuff and then draw their own conclusions. If they were to talk to Dodge or Ford or Chevrolet, they would probably only say what would be best for them, so NASCAR has a tough job.

THE SERIES HEADS TO MICHIGAN NEXT. WHAT KIND OF EMOTION DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU HEAR THAT PLACE MENTIONED? "I have some mixed feelings about Michigan. First of all, that was my last Winston Cup win, so it's special in my heart. Then you look at it and it's like, 'OK, that's where both wrecks happened, so you must not like Michigan.' But when it's all said and done, the people at Michigan International Speedway are the ones that saved my life. I owe a lot to that race track and all the people they had put in place. At that time and year, if you were gonna crash, that was the best place to crash because they had a medical staff and all the things in place like helicopters. Nowadays, it's common knowledge to have all those pieces of the puzzle put together."

DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR WIN THERE ONE OF THE GREAT COMEBACK STORIES IN THIS SPORT? "There's no doubt that it's one of them. I was very fortunate to have won 15, but, again, I raced in about 300 of them so I actually lost a lot more than I won. As a result, you appreciate every win. None of them is any more special. It was a challenge and being able to be first at the finish line is great."

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR EMOTION IN VICTORY LANE THAT DAY? "Oh yeah. I remember a lot of it. I had tears in my eyes. On the lap after the checkered flag, I had all these thoughts running through me and then again in victory lane it was pretty emotional. I almost lost my life at that race track, but that race track also saved my life. It was a case where I felt like I had conquered the race track that almost conquered me."

-ford-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Conway , Cale Yarborough , Mark Martin , David Pearson