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Sunday, August 17
Michigan Int'l Speedway
Edwards Outduels Busch for Win
BROOKLYN, MICH. (Aug. 17/08) - It was Old West style showdown stuff -- Kyle "Rowdy" Busch vs. Carl "Mr. Clean" Edwards.
On the final restart, there were two laps for all the gold after 400 miles of lead-swapping between NASCAR's hard-charging gunslingers.
Edwards, in this one, gunned Busch down, blowing him away in a two-lap dash at the end. The No. 99 driver earned 10 more bonus points, cutting the gap between him and the No. 18 team to forty points heading into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
It was Edwards' fifth win of the year. And, once again, Jack Roush's stable of Fords proved to be too much for the competition at this two-mile speed palace beyond the suburbs of Detroit in what is known as Michigan's Irish Hills.
A caution to clean up the mess made by Denny Hamlin's engine explosion bunched the field one final time with less than eight laps remaining.
Edwards, who had traded the lead with Busch most of the afternoon, streaked away like a rocket when the green flag waved for the final time.
Busch was second and another Roush Ford, driven by youngster David Ragan, was third. Greg Biffle, another Roush driver, was fourth and another, Matt Kenseth, was fifth. Roush cars therefore finished first, third, fourth and fifth.
Trailing the Roush parade were veteran Mark Martin, Brian Vickers, Kevin Harvick, Elliott Sadler and Jamie McMurray, in yet another Roush machine.
While it might have been a great day for Roush and Ford, it was a very disappointing day for some of the sport's stars trying to stay in the Top 12 in the point standings in the Race to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Hamlin, for example, had raced his way to a top 10 spot before his engine trouble relegated him to a 39th-place finish, falling three spots to 12th place in the standings. Dale Earnhardt Jr. seemed to be a contender early, leading the race for 43 laps, before scraping the wall with less than 10 laps to go and dropping back to 23rd.
Jeff Gordon appeared to have a pretty good car before a side-by-side scrape with teammate Jimmie Johnson. He hit the wall a few laps later and finished 42nd, falling three spots in the standings to ninth place.
Finally, Johnson battled back into the top 20 after losing a lap and finished the race, colliding with Travis Kvapil coming out of turn four and spinning down across the infield grass. He managed to keep his Chevy aimed in the right direction and crossed the finish line in 17th spot.
Compared to other chase contenders finishing much worse than 17th, the two-time champ would have to say 17th wasn't too bad.
With an engine problem, Kasey Kahne finished 40th, dropping to 11th place in the point standings.
On the outside of the top 12, Clint Bowyer and David Ragan are tied 26 points outside of the Chase with three races to go before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series begins Sept. 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Johnson went to the front as soon as the green flag fell on the 43-car field. It was a clear, balmy Michigan day and a sizeable crowd of more than 100,000 gathered to watch the 3M Performance 400.
Considering the poor economic climate in what is known as Car Country, USA, NASCAR fans obviously found a way to get to the race and were certainly not disappointed. By lap 10, five-time NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award winner Earnhardt had moved from his fourth starting spot past Johnson for the lead.
Kyle Busch, the hottest driver on the circuit this season, moved from 11th to seventh by lap 15 of the 200-lap race.
Popular Australian Marcos Ambrose brought out the first caution flag of the day on lap 18 when the engine in his Wood Brothers Ford erupted in smoke on the backstretch.
When the race restarted on lap 25, Johnson and Vickers were ahead of Earnhardt, but Busch had moved into fourth. It was Chevy, Toyota, Chevy and Toyota, but Earnhardt's No. 88 zoomed into the lead on lap 30, drawing a huge roar from the crowd. Busch had moved to second and Edwards had worked his way from 27th to third.
Vickers moved past Busch for second spot on the 42nd lap while Earnhardt motored on out front with a one-second lead. Vickers passed Earnhardt on the 48th lap but Earnhardt was told by crew chief Tony Eury Jr., to back off and get behind Vickers to see if he could dislodge a piece of paper from his Chevy's grill. The strategy worked (water temperature in the 88 dropped from 240 to 230) and Earnhardt settled into second awaiting the next pit stop. Edwards was third and Busch fourth, two seconds behind.
The field started making green-flag pit stops on lap 62. Earnhardt came in on lap 64. Vickers came in three laps later. Once all the leaders had pitted, Earnhardt was back in the lead with Edwards second and Vickers third. Biffle and Busch were right behind.
Edwards took the lead on lap 74. Earnhardt dropped to third a few laps later when Vickers zipped past. Earnhardt slid back to fourth a few laps later when Biffle passed him.
Dave Blaney brought out the second caution when Paul Menard was tapped in the rear by Ryan Newman off of turn two. Menard's car clipped Blaney and sent him into the retaining wall.
On the restart at lap 89, Edwards was in front, followed by Biffle, Vickers, Busch, Earnhardt and Kenseth. Defending champion Johnson had to make an unscheduled stop for a cut tire after bumping into teammate Gordon and then Tony Stewart when the trio made it three wide in the trioval after the restart. Johnson dropped all the way back to 34th. Gordon slammed the wall a few laps later and crashed into the third turn wall bringing out the third caution of the day. Gordon apparently suffered a cut tire in the scrape with Johnson.
On the restart shortly past the 100-lap halfway mark, Edwards led with Biffle and Busch in tow. Trailing them were Vickers, David Ragan, Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Earnhardt, Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch.
Complete Race Results click here
Post-Race Driver Point Standings click here
The Race: 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Track: 2-mile oval
The Distance: 400 miles/200 laps
TV: ESPN & TSN, 2 p.m. (AT))
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS Satellite Radio
2007 Winner: Kurt Busch
2007 Polesitter: Jeff Gordon
Pre-Race Schedule/ET: Friday— Practice, 12-1:30 p.m., Qualifying, 3:40 p.m. Saturday—Practice, 12:30-1:15 p.m. and 1:50-2:50 p.m.
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standings click here
Broadcast Times - AT*
Practice: Friday, Aug 15 (SPEED at 1 p.m.)
Qualifying: Friday, Aug 15 (SPEED at 4:30 p.m.)
Practice: Saturday, Aug 16 (SPEED at 1:30 p.m.)
Final Practice: Saturday, Aug 16 (SPEED at 2:30 p.m.)
RaceDay: Sunday, Aug 17 (SPEED at Noon p.m.)
Pre-Race: Sunday, Aug 17 (ESPN & TSN at 2 p.m.)
Race: Sunday, Aug 17 (ESPN & TSN at 3 p.m.)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Brian Vickers (pictured right) won the Pole Award for the 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo with a lap of
38.189 seconds, 188.536 mph.
Complete Starting Lineup click here
- This is his fifth pole in 159 NASCAR Cup Series races.
- This is his first pole and fifth top-10 start in 2008.
- This is his first pole in 10 races at Michigan International Speedway. Jimmie Johnson (second) posted his 18th top-10
start of 2008 and his ninth in 14 races at Michigan International Speedway.
- Elliott Sadler (third) posted his eighth top-10 start at Michigan International Speedway.
- It is his ninth in 23 races this season.
- Patrick Carpentier (sixth) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Johnny Sauter was the only driver who failed to qualify.
Quebec's Patrick Carpentier has lots to smile about after posting the sixth-fastest lap in time trials Friday - the fastest rookie
in the field...
- Kyle Busch Enjoying Storybook Season...Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) looks to add to his storybook season this weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pays a return visit to Michigan International Speedway.
The 23-year-old Busch already has put together the type of season that drivers dream of having. Consider some of his accomplishments through the first 22 races of the year:
Series-high eight victories, along with 13 top- five and 14 top-10 finishes
Once he clinches a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, he will be the top seed with 80 bonus points
His 16 national series wins in one season (eight in NASCAR Sprint Cup, six in NASCAR Nationwide Series, and two in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series) is a NASCAR record for wins spread across all three series in a single season
Series-high Driver Rating of 110.6 (compared to 96.5 at this time a year ago)
Has displayed outstanding versatility with four wins on intermediate tracks, two on road courses, and two on restrictor plate tracks
With his victory last Sunday at Watkins Glen, he became the 18th driver with eight or more wins in the first 22 races of a season – 13 of the previous 17 went on to win the series championship.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. Looks For Michigan Sweep...Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet) hopes history repeats history this Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
The last time he visited this two-mile oval (June 15), he snapped a 76-race winless streak by outlasting Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) in a green-white-checkered two-lap shootout to claim his 18th career victory and first at MIS.
Coming off a disappointing 22nd-place finish last Sunday at the Glen, Earnhardt currently would be seeded fifth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He says he’s looking forward to a return trip to MIS this Sunday.
“I really like that race track; it’s a lot of fun to race on,” Earnhardt said. “We are sort of starting to swing back toward the tracks that we have better runs at and we have better luck at. I’ve had some rough, rough runs this summer, but that seems to be the case every year. These cars are pretty challenging this year, but that is still a fun track for me.”
The last driver to sweep both races at Michigan was Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios Racing/Betty Crocker Dodge) in 1995.
- Marcos Ambrose Looks To Continue Momentum...In what has to be one of the top “feel-good” stories in NASCAR this season, Marcos Ambrose (No. 21 Little Debbie Ford) looks to build upon the momentum he generated this past weekend at Watkins Glen.
On Saturday, the likable Australian won his first NASCAR race, winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at The Glen. If that wasn’t enough excitement, he turned around the next day and passed 40 cars en route to a third-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, while driving the No. 21 car for the Wood Brothers. It was the best finish for that historic NASCAR racing organization since 2005.
“It is very special to drive for the Wood Brothers,” said Ambrose following Sunday’s race. “They are historically one of the most famous teams. I remember them growing up; I read a lot about them with their race wins here in NASCAR. They’ve had a tough year and they need some momentum to move them forward, and I hope I can help them do that.”
Ambrose’s ascension through the NASCAR ranks is a prime example of the ladder system in the sport. The former two-time Australian V8 Supercar champion got his NASCAR start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, running 22 of 25 races in the No. 20 Ford for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing. In 2009, Ambrose will be driving the No. 47 Little Debbie Ford fulltime for JTG Daugherty Racing.
Ambrose currently is 10th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings. He is slated to once again drive the No. 21 Ford in Sunday’s NSCS race and the No. 59 Ford in Saturday’s NNS race.
- Jockeying For Top 12 Chase Positions Continues...While the first five positions in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup are becoming more solidified each week, there remains some considerable jockeying for positions 6-12.
With four races remaining until the Chase begins, a look at the standings show just how competitive things are at this point of the season. Only 148 points separate sixth and 13th places in the current point standings. It’s even tighter between ninth and 13th places – a mere 83 points.
And, Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet) is just 22 points behind the 12th place driver – Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford). Kenseth is one of only two drivers (Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet is the other) to make the Chase field all four years of its existence.
- Roush Fenway Racing, Michigan A Perfect Fit...Roush Fenway Racing drivers have won 10 times at Michigan International Speedway – second most of any organization. The Wood Brothers lead the way with 11 wins at this two-mile oval. Roush Fenway drivers have won six of the last 13 races at MIS.
Former or current Roush Fenway drivers who have visited Victory Lane at Michigan include: Mark Martin (No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet) with four wins, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford) with two wins each, and Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) and Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) with one win each.
- Top 35: No. 84 Toyota Bursts Into Top 35...AJ Allmendinger (No. 84 Red Bull Toyota) has raced his way into the top 35 in owners’ points with a string of impressive performances over the past four races.
His 11th-place finish last week at Watkins Glen moved his team up to 35th in owners’ points – the first time it has been on the inside of that magic number since Red Bull Racing made its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in 2007.
Since Jimmy Elledge took over as crew chief for the No. 84 after the Daytona race in early July, Allmendinger has turned in finishes of 13th at Chicagoland, 10th at Indianapolis, 19th at Pocono and 11th at Watkins Glen.
“We’re in the top 35 and that’s been our big deal and I know once we get in we’re not going to fall back out,” Allmendinger said. “When we get to Michigan, I’ll be a lot happier when we don’t have to qualify on time.”
The No. 00 Champion Mortgage Toyota, owned by Rob Kauffman, is 36th in owners’ points, and is just eight points out of 35th place. Veteran driver Mike Skinner will be behind the wheel of that machine this week at Michigan, in place of regular driver Michael McDowell.
- Manufacturers’ Standings...Kyle Busch’s win last week at Watkins Glen was his series-high eighth of the season and the ninth win for Toyota on the year. As a result, Toyota increased its lead over Chevrolet in the Manufacturers’ Championship standings – 143-121. Ford is right on Chevrolet’s heels, just one point behind – 121-120. Dodge is fourth with 100 points. Ford has enjoyed solid success at Michigan, winning 30 times there overall, including seven of the past 13 races at Michigan.
- MIS Sports 40-Year History Of Racing...Michigan International Speedway is celebrating its 40th anniversary of racing in 2008. Located on 1,400-plus acres in the scenic Irish Hills region, MIS’ 2-mile layout features 18 degree banking and 73-foot wide sweeping turns.
A Who’s Who of NASCAR greats have added to their racing resume by winning at Michigan. David Pearson is the all-time winner with nine victories, followed by Cale Yarborough with eight. Mark Martin leads current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers with four wins at Michigan.
“I love racing at Michigan,” Martin said. “It’s one of the tracks that really suits my style of driving. The track is big and wide and there is plenty of room to pass. If you get your car hooked up just right at Michigan, a driver can have a lot of fun there. On the other hand, if you aren’t very good, it can make for a long day. I’ve had my share of success there over the years and I would say it is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit.”
- Kyle Busch Going For Broke?...Currently with eight wins on the season, points leader Kyle Busch has a legitimate chance to establish a new single-season record for victories. Since the schedule was reduced in size in 1972, 13 wins in a season has been the standard – with Richard Petty winning 13 in 1975 and Jeff Gordon matching that number in 1998.
- Stewart On The Verge Of Winning?...While Tony Stewart’s (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota) winless drought has now reached 36 races, all indications point to the fact a victory is right around the corner for the two-time series champion. Stewart has earned runner-up finishes the past two races. He also has the second-best Driver Rating (100.6) at the next four tracks.
- Looking For Michigan Win...Two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has visited Victory Lane 35 times during his career, but is still looking for his first victory at Michigan International Speedway. Johnson’s wins have come at 15 different tracks, with MIS just one of seven tracks on the current schedule where Johnson has yet to win.
- Birthday Boy...Carl Edwards will celebrate his 29th birthday this Friday, August 15.
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