Formula 1 champion, Jackie Stewart is famous for the words "What a lovely day for a motor race". While the NASCAR Winston Cup Series lacks the international glamour, truer words were never spoken for the Sirius 400 at Michigan International ...
Formula 1 champion, Jackie Stewart is famous for the words "What a lovely day for a motor race". While the NASCAR Winston Cup Series lacks the international glamour, truer words were never spoken for the Sirius 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
And on this lovely day, Kurt Busch in the No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford was victorious after 400 grueling miles on this superspeedway giving Ford Motor Company a nice gift on its 100th anniversary.
"Unbelievable," said a happy Busch in victory circle. "This was like a one in a million opportunity today, to give Ford its 100th anniversary win. A wonderful day for Ford, my dad and the team.
Starting fourth, Busch ran a conservative pace, keeping the car under him and was strong at the end, "The race came to us. The team set the car up to be good on the short runs.
The first-time winner at MIS continued, "The cautions came at the right time and we were in position to capitalize on them. The car wasn't very good at the beginning and each pit stop we seemed to make it worse, but on the last stop we decided to go back from where we started and the car really came to me at the end."
Polesitter Bobby Labonte in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet finished second after a terrible start. Labonte ran in the top ten, but something was woefully wrong with the handling. The team worked on the car on the pit stops and got it freed up by the end. Labonte was able to move toward the front and made a run on Busch, but was just not strong enough off turn 4 to challenge for the lead.
Labonte lamented "The car was not very good at the start and we started adjusting it on the stops to make it better. Kurt (Busch) was awfully strong today, I tried to make a run on him at the end but he was just too strong."
Jeff Gordon finished third in the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet. Gordon started the race in 6th and hung around the top five all day, even leading in the early laps. It was clear his car wasn't good enough to lead, but was a top five car on this day.
After the race, Gordon said " We were awesome on new tires, but the car was tight and we kept adjusting to free it, and I thought that we would be strong enough that the cars behind us would use themselves up before they could get to us and not get around us. I was good on the long runs and the end of the race was a bunch of short runs."
The race started out with a caution on the first lap when Steve Park in the No. 30 and Ken Schrader in the No. 49 came together, Ricky Rudd got caught up in the incident as well.
Another caution came out on lap ten when the Jasper Engines No 77 of Dave Blaney brushed the wall. It seemed the race would not settle down, all in all the total caution periods match the nine record cautions at MIS for the June event.
Due to Blaney's misfortune, several of the teams toward the front chose to pit, but the No. 8 car of Dale Earnhardt Jr., among others in the back, chose to stay out to gain track position.
In Earnhardt's case, he was forced to change his motor after yesterday's practice showed all was not well under the hood. This applied to Jimmy Spencer in the No.7, Terry Labonte in the No. 5 and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 43 who also had engine changes.
Sterling Marlin in the No. 40 made the best move of the early race taking the lead after starting in 30th position. Marlin would fade on the restart on lap 162 and would not be a factor for the win after leading the middle laps of the race along with Tony Stewart in the Home Depot Chevrolet
The remainder of the top ten included, in order, Matt Kenseth in the No. 17 DeWalt Ford in 4th , Michael Waltrip in the NAPA Chevrolet in 5th, Sterling Marlin's Coors Light Dodge in 6th, Dale Earnhardt Jr in the Budweiser Chevrolet in 7th, Tony Stewart in the Home Depot Chevrolet in 8th, Mark Martin's Viagra Ford in 9th and Terry Labonte in the Kellogg's Chevrolet in the 10th spot.
Points leader Kenseth and DEI's Waltrip took on four new tires in their final pitstops and flew on the final five-lap shootout to battle their way to the top five.
"The Goodyear Eagles were great and helped me with that final run," commented Kenseth. "It was an up and down day, we had a good setup at the end."
Maybe the strangest fact of the weekend was both winners of the weekend, the ARCA race and the Winston Race came from the same pit box, pit 19. Anyone feeling luck for the lottery?