Ford and The Pure Michigan 400
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.
David Pearson holds the record at Michigan International Speedway with nine victories.