Michigan International Speedway has not had a repeat winner in the last eight races.
That mirrors the parity we have seen in Winston Cup.
The last driver to have recent multiple wins was Dale Jarrett (30-1) was the last driver to post multiple wins at MIS. Jarrett won in ”˜99 and last fall. This is the Super Bowl for the executives of GM, Ford, and Dodge, who all sit atop in their luxury boxes simply rooting for their car make to win.
Since 1984, a stretch of 39 races, Ford has 25 wins and Chevrolet eight of GM’s 13 victories. Sterling Marlin had a breakthrough win in 2001, the first time a Dodge prevailed at Michigan since Richard Petty swept the season in 1974.
A Roush Racing Ford has won the two of the last three 400s. Matt Kenseth (10-1) won the early race last year and Kurt Busch (7-1) triumphed seven weeks ago. Roush’s last previous win was in ”˜98 with Mark Martin (18-1). Martin, almost the forgotten driver of the Fab 5, has four career wins at Michigan.
Even though Kenseth has been the rock of stability this season, Busch is the one to watch this week. Busch does well on flatter cookie cutter ovals such as California and Michigan, each originally built by Roger Penske. The last driver sweep the season at Michigan was Bobby Labonte in 1995. Look for Busch to be strong this week.
The Yates Fords have been dominant at Michigan throughout their existence. Only once since ”˜96 did Yates fail to have a car finish in the Top 5. During that stretch, Yates has won four races including Jarrett last season. But Yates is in a rebuilding stage.
The top Dodge entries are Ryan Newman (12-1) and Rusty Wallace (18-1), the latter with five career wins at Michigan.
Chip Ganassi will send out Marlin (18-1) along with Jamie McMurray (25-1). McMurray was fifth at California and 14th at Michigan.
Ray Evernham’s Dodges have Bill Elliott (18-1) and Jeremy Mayfield (65-1). Elliott’s seven career wins is best of any active driver at Michigan.
The Chevys claim seven of the top 10 drivers in points, led by Dale Earnhardt Jr (10-1), who is a distant second. Terry Labonte (35-1) has posted three runnerup finishes in 49 starts.
Jeff Gordon (10-1) has 14 top 5’s in 21 starts, including two wins. Jimmie Johnson has been very successful at California but not at Michigan.
The Joe Gibbs duo will be strong. Bobby Labonte (8-1) has three wins at Michigan and nine Top-5’s in 21 starts. Tony Stewart (10-1) has one career Michigan win, but plenty of bad luck.
DEI Enterprises features star racer Michael Waltrip (25-1), whose fourth place finish is best on the team.
Tracy must choose
With next year’s status of the Champ Car series in question, Las Vegan Paul Tracy will face some choices. Tracy leads in wins on his way to a title. But if, and more likely when, the series folds where will he go?
Many sources confirm that bigtime NASCAR owners Chip Ganassi and Richard Childress would love to have Tracy.