Ford vs. Chevy was a one-sided matchup in Michi­gan

Yuma Sun - - SUN SPORTS -

BROOK­LYN, Mich. — Ford vs. Chevro­let is al­ways a sub­plot to watch when the top auto rac­ers come to Michi­gan.

This past week­end, it was no con­test.

Clint Bowyer’s NASCAR Cup Se­ries win Sun­day capped a week­end in which Ford dom­i­nated in qual­i­fy­ing and on race day. Bowyer was one of seven Ford driv­ers in the top eight in the rain-short­ened race. The high­est Chevy was Chase Elliott in ninth (Kyle Busch fin­ished fourth in a Toy­ota).

“It’s just un­be­liev­able the start to the sea­son with the wins and suc­cess that we’re hav­ing, come here to our home track with our em­ploy­ees here watch­ing,” said Mark Rush­brook, global di­rec­tor of Ford Per­for­mance. “To have this per­for­mance and strength across all of our teams, to win the race, it’s just tremen­dous for all the com­pany.”

The races at Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speed­way al­ways seem to take on ex­tra sig­nif­i­cance, since it’s about 70 miles from down­town Detroit. There is a Michi­gan Her­itage Tro­phy that goes to the race- win­ning man­u­fac­turer for Cup week­end, too.

There’s lit­tle de­bate over who ended up with Mo­tor City brag­ging rights this time. Bowyer, Kevin Har­vick and pole win­ner Kurt Busch gave Ste­wartHaas Rac­ing a sweep of the top three spots. Team Penske — an­other Ford team — fin­ished 6-7-8 with Brad Ke­selowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney.

Blaney was the win­ner of the race’s first stage.

“We were re­ally fast. We got our car bet­ter all day and won that stage and kind of got back there and a lot of guys took two,” Blaney said. “We were mak­ing it back up but then the rain came. It was a re­ally great race car. Def­i­nitely not an eighth­place car but un­for­tu­nately that is where we ended up.”

The Fords were fast in qual­i­fy­ing too, tak­ing six of the top seven spots, with Busch win­ning the pole .

The vic­tory by Bowyer was the eighth of the year for Ford in 15 Cup races. It’s been a decade since Ford fin­ished with the most vic­to­ries by a man­u­fac­turer, and in that 2008 sea­son, it fin­ished tied with Chevy with 11 wins each.

“It’s a team ef­fort to not have any weak­nesses. We also come here to Michi­gan for brag­ging rights,” Busch said. “I’ve al­ways driven that way. It re­ally shines through when you see Doug Yates (of Roush Yates En­gines) here, Mark Rush­brook is here, ev­ery­body from all de­part­ments, the chief aero guy was here this week­end from Ste­wartHaas. We put in a full ef­fort. It’s brag­ging rights to win at Michi­gan.”

Those brag­ging rights be­longed to Chevy last year, when Kyle Lar­son won both races at MIS. This sea­son, the only Cup vic­tory for Chevro­let has been Austin Dil­lon’s in the Day­tona 500. It’s been bet­ter on the IndyCar side, where Will Power won the Indianapolis 500 in a Chevy, but even in that se­ries, Chevro­let was largely out­classed by Honda at Detroit’s Belle Isle two week­ends ago .

Kyle Busch leads the Cup stand­ings, fol­lowed by four Ford driv­ers — Har­vick, Logano, Ke­selowski and Bowyer. The top Chevy driver is Lar­son, in 10th place. Jim­mie John­son is 12th and has only led two laps all sea­son.

Lar­son said Fri­day that he didn’t feel Chevys have been at a dis­ad­van­tage this year, and he didn’t want his team to make any ex­cuses. Af­ter Sun­day’s race, he said he felt he had the fastest car — and blamed him­self for a “stupid mis­take” that led to a 28th­place fin­ish. Per­haps Lar­son and the other Chevro­lets can re­bound dur­ing the lat­ter stages of the Cup sea­son, but they have a lot of catch­ing up to do. This was Ford’s week­end. “We’re work­ing on all fronts of what it takes to be suc­cess­ful in rac­ing with our teams and giv­ing them the right tools, mak­ing sure they have the best en­gines, aero tools, CFD tools to op­ti­mize what they’ve got,” Rush­brook said. “We’re just go­ing to keep push­ing as hard as we have been.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS

KURT BUSCH (41) AND BRAD KE­SELOWSKI (2) lead the field at the start of a NASCAR Cup Se­ries auto race Sun­day in Brook­lyn, Mich.

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