Wild Thang: Michigan International Speedway


Michigan International SpeedwayIt’s time to get you ready for Fathers Day Weekend, and  Nascar’s first visit of the year to the newly re-paved  Michigan International Speedway. The Nationwide Series will get the action underway on Saturday afternoon with the Alliance Truck Parts 250. The race will be televised on ABC, and the Green Flag around 4PM EDT. TNT will head the broadcast for Sunday with the Quicken Loans 400 which should start at around 1PM EDT.

Michigan International Speedway doesn’t have a cool moniker like The Track Too Tough To Tame, or the Tricky Triangle, but make no mistake about it, this track is one of the fastest and most dangerous on the Nascar circuit. It is a 2 mile D-Oval with wide sweeping turns, and 18 degree banking in the corners. With speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour on the straight a ways, that makes this one of the most dangerous tracks on the schedule.

If there ever was a track that defined a career, it would be Michigan and Ernie Irvan. For you newer Race Fans, Ernie Irvan was the driver of the  #28 Havoline Texaco Ford owned by Robert Yates Racing in 1994, who went out on an early practice run where he blew out a tire and hit the Turn Two wall at 177 mile per hour.  Ernie had to be extricated from the car and air-lifted to nearby St. Josephs Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

He sustained massive head and lung injuries, and was given only a 10% chance of survival. Ernie made a full recovery, and returned to Nascar in 1995, coming  back to Michigan in 1997 and wining the final race of his career.

Five years to the date of his first accident at Michigan, he was driving his own car, the #84 Irvan-Simo Federated Auto Parts Pontiac in a practice session for a Busch race and crashed again. He again was airlifted to the hospital, and again he had head and lung injuries.  Less than two weeks later, on September 3, 1999, he announced his retirement.

Other drivers who have had a major run-in with MIS, were A.J. Foyt, Bobby Rahal, Pancho Carter and Al Unser. On July 26, 1998, three spectators were killed and six injured when debris from a CART race flew into the stands. Michigan International Speedway could be classified as one of the most dangerous tracks we see every year.

Ground was broken in September of  1967 to build this racetrack, and it was opened in October of 1968. Ryan Newman holds the record for qualifying here with a lap of 37.069 seconds(194.232), and Dale Jarrett holds the race record for race speed at 173.997 MPH, set in 1999. Most wins and poles at MIS is held by David Pearson with nine and 10 respectfully. Cale Yarborough holds the record for most top 5′s and laps led, Mark Martin the most top 10′s. Bill Elliott has the record for most starts at 61.

Denny Hamlin won the Quicken Loans 400 in 2010-11 and looks for the hat trick outside the Motor City.

Brad Keselowski didn’t come close to repeating last August’s Pocono win – he finished 18th – but coupled with Kyle Busch’s engine failure, the Detroit-area native reached the top 10 in the points standings for the first time in his career pre-Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™. In order, Busch, Ryan Newman, Pocono winner Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne are the current “wild card” aspirants.

Carl Edwards was your winner in last years Nationwide race at Michigan. Although this is a race that is typically dominated by Fords, and in particular Roush/Fenway Fords, look for Joey Logano to continue his Nationwide hot streak and be very competitive on the new racing surface  Saturday.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is in need of some damage control this weekend after finishes of 26th and 32nd in the last two races. He could use a win at Michigan to resurrect his season and get him back on track for a second consecutive championship.

There will be a special test session today for the Sprint Cup Guys to get some data on the new surface, as well as test the tire set-up for the weekend. The Nationwide drivers will get extra practice time on Friday to adorn themselves to the changes.

The Camping World Truck are off until June 28th. In Kentucky.

 

Image Courtesy Getty Images For Nascar

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Tags: Brad Keselowski Carl Edwards Denny Hamlin Greg Biffle Joey Logano NASCAR Nationwide Series NASCAR Sprint Cup Series