Ford and The Pure Michi­gan 400

The Hamilton Spectator - - RACING 2017 - TIM MILLER The au­thor of sev­eral books on auto rac­ing, Tim Miller can be reached at tim­millerthe­car­guy@gmail.com.

This week­end the next race in the Mon­ster En­ergy NASCAR Cup, the Pure Michi­gan 400, will be held at Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speedway.

Sit­u­ated in the Ir­ish Hills area of Michi­gan, the two-mile highly banked (18 de­grees) oval holds a pair of Cup races each year and along with Watkins Glen, is a peren­nial pil­grim­age stop for Cana­dian fans.

Presently in third place in the Cup stand­ings, Kyle Lar­son has won the past two races at MIS in his Chevy.

Last year’s June race win­ner at MIS, Joey Logano, sits 13th in the stand­ings with his Ford. Logano also won the race in 2013, his first win in a Ford with new car owner Roger Penske.

Speak­ing of Penske, he bought the fa­cil­ity in 1972 from its orig­i­nal owner, Lawrence LoPatin, a Detroit-area land de­vel­oper, and be­gan to up­grade the track and its 565-hectare site. Along with new pit build­ings, garages, and ter­race suites, the seat­ing ca­pac­ity in­creased from its orig­i­nal 25,000 to 125,000 dur­ing his ten­ure.

In 1999, MIS was sold to the In­ter­na­tional Speedway Cor­po­ra­tion. ISC also owns 12 other ma­jor rac­ing fa­cil­i­ties and de­rives about 90 per cent of its rev­enue from NASCAR-sanc­tioned events.

Since MIS opened in 1968 af­ter com­ple­tion in ’67, Ford has the lion’s share of Cup events here, win­ning at least once at the track each sea­son, cap­tur­ing 12 sea­son sweeps, and win­ning 47 of 96 races.

Af­ter Cale Yar­bor­ough’s in­au­gu­ral Cup win in June of 1969 with his Mer­cury, the Motor State 500, MIS has gar­nered a rep­u­ta­tion as the fastest track on the Cup cir­cuit with qual­i­fy­ing speeds over 200 m.p.h. 2014 Jeff Gor­don set the qual­i­fy­ing bench­mark in Cup rac­ing with a 206.55-m.p.h. post­ing.

The first race at MIS was an open wheeled Champ Car event in Oc­to­ber of 1968 and won by Ron­nie Buck­num. USAC Champ Cars, CART, and IndyCar races have been held at MIS, and in 2000 Toronto’s Paul Tracy es­tab­lished the fastest qual­i­fy­ing lap in an open-wheeled racer at 234.9 m.p.h. Lar­son wins the Pure Michi­gan 400 this week­end, that will give him three MIS wins in a row. But it’s not a record. Bill El­liott won both Michi­gan races for the years 1985 and ’86, the only Cup driver to win four in a row at MIS. El­liott went on to win three more races there, and is third in wins with seven, fol­lowed by leader David Pear­son with nine, and Cale Yar­bor­ough with eight. Greg Bif­fle broke the four-year Ford drought of MIS wins in 2012 with a pair of vic­to­ries, and shared the wins in ’13 with Logano. Week­end Win­ners ... Win­ning the Beat the Heat 100 at Sauble Beach Satur­day was Stayner’s Bran­don Watson. This was the lat­est APC Se­ries Late Model race, which will run a dou­ble­header at Jukasa (for­merly Cayuga) Speedway on Au­gust 26-27 . ... The Pa­ton Rac­ing Top Fuel Drag­ster from Paris, driven by Shawn Reed of Wash­ing­ton, made the show in the week­end’s NHRA North­west Na­tion­als, but was taken out in first-round ac­tion. An­tron Brown won TF at Seat­tle, Robert Hight in Funny Car and Drew Skill­man took Pro Stock . ... Six di­vi­sions of race cars helped out at Flam­boro Speedway’s Kids Ride Night, with driv­ers do­nat­ing their time tak­ing young­sters around the paved oval. Man­age­ment also wanted to thank those who do­nated 16 bi­cy­cles and other prizes for the night. Dou­ble fea­tures were held at Flam­boro, with Doug Moir of Wa­ter­down and Eric Crow of Brant­ford each win­ning a Pure Stock fea­ture. Hamil­ton’s Nick Troback won both Su­per Stock fea­tures and Brian Nan­ti­coke of Oh­sweken won both Pro 4 Mod­i­fied mains. The Cana­dian Vin­tage Mod­i­fied fea­tures were won by Mike Podd and TJ Mar­shall, and Con­nor James won the sole On­tario Mod­i­fied Se­ries fea­ture. In the Mini Stock fea­tures, Russ Aicken of New Ham­burg and Rod­ney Ruther­ford of Dun­das took home the gold . ... The sev­enth and eighth rounds of the Can-Am Stock/Su­per Stock Se­ries were held over the week­end at the Grand Bend Mo­tor­plex. Bob Park of Dun­das drove his GT/IA Ca­maro to vic­tory in round seven, and Chatham’s Chris Lo­zon and his GT/FA su­per stock Oldsmo­bile Achieva elim­i­nated all to win round eight.

COUR­TESY OF FORD MOTOR CO.,

David Pear­son holds the record at Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speedway with nine vic­to­ries.

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