Driver Handicaps For Michigan

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Dale Jarrett- Jarrett scored his first Winston Cup win here at Michigan back in 1991, battling the late Davey Allison to the line in one of the best Michigan races in history. Jarrett also won here in 1996 and again in 1999, in a romp every bit as convincing as Gordon's last week at Dover, one of the worst races in Michigan history. DJ hasn't missed the top 10 at Michigan in the last ten races at the track and has missed the top five only twice.

Jeff Gordon- This track has always been good to Gordon. Even in his somewhat difficult rookie season Gordon finished 2nd and 3rd at Michigan. Surprisingly it took him until 1998 to win here, but Jeff does have five 2nd place finishes and three 3rd place results to go along with that win.. From 1995 to 1999 Gordon hadn't finished worse than 6th at Michigan but last year the track was a disaster for him with a 14th place result in this race and a 36th place here last Fall after an early wreck with Jeff's good buddy Tony Stewart. Still the way Gordon dominated last week, and with two second place finishes to go along with that win in the last four points races (plus a win at the Winston) I'd consider him the odds on favorite this weekend.

Rusty Wallace- Wallace won the Michigan race last Fall by going with four tires rather than two on his final stop. That was one of Wallace's five wins at Michigan dating back to the era when the earth was still cooling. (1988) His seventh place result in this race last year broke a seven race slump where Wallace didn't have a top 10 finish in the Irish Hills.

Tony Stewart- Stewart had an impressive streak going at Michigan with two top tens here in his rookie season of 1999 and a win at this race in 2000. But last Fall he tangled with Gordon and wound up 41st. Doh! I hate when that happens. Is he going to run the 24 Hours of Le Mans prior to the 400?

Sterling Marlin- Marlin's best finish here was a 3rd back in 1996. Hadn't scored a top 10 at Michigan since that race until he finished 10th here in this race last year. As the fortunes of the Dodges go, so shall Sterling's.

Ricky Rudd- Rudd won at Michigan in 1993. The rest of that decade wasn't so good for Rudd at Michigan with only two more top 10s prior to his joining Robert Yates. Ricky was in position to win at Michigan last August, but a decision to go with two tires on the final stop allowed Wallace to mow him down. Still with Yates horsepower and Jarrett's success at this track I'd consider Rudd a solid darkhorse pick this weekend.

Steve Park- Michigan wasn't good to Park last year with 29th and 33rd place finishes. Best result of 6th in five Michigan Cup starts.

Johnny Benson- Benson finished 5th at Michigan last August but has been very inconsistent at this track. Tends to either finish inside the top 10 or outside the top 20. (More of the latter than the former.) Home state native should have a big cheering section.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.- 13th and 31st last year at Michigan. Did win a Busch race here in 1999.

Kevin Harvick- First crack at a Cup race at Michigan. 11th here in a truck in 1999. 9th here in a Busch car last year. 7th here in a Cup car this year? Team has tended to run real well at Michigan.

Bobby Hamilton- Hamilton has taken to Michigan like a wombat takes to riding a mountain bike. One top 10 in seventeen starts. Honest, Andy, I'm pedaling hard as I can.

Bobby Labonte- Labonte won both races here in 1995 and won again in 1999 at Michigan. Finished 3rd in both races last year. Obviously this is a good track for Bobby, so is this the weekend he returns to last year's form? No, probably not, but I'm trying to add little drama to what's normally a pretty sedate race.

Matt Kenseth- Eighth here last time out in a Cup car. Made his first Cup start here in 1999 and finished 14th.

Mark Martin- During the 1990s this was Mark's playground. He won four race at Michigan and missed the top 10 only once between 1990 and 1999. 40th and 11th here last year. I'm convinced the guy driving the 6 car right now isn't Mark. It's Robby Gordon is a rubber Mark Martin suit.

Elliott Sadler- If he didn't win at Michigan last year (and he didn't even come close 27th and 40th) Sadler did make all the highlight reels with a wicked series of flips during Happy Hour. Looking to keep it rubber side down this weekend.

Jimmy Spencer- Spencer was 7th here at Michigan last Fall, one of three top ten finishes at Michigan for the guy who never forgets. Has been improving here as of late.

Ward Burton- Ward finished in the top ten at both races in Michigan last year. Last year he was driving a Pontiac. This year he's driving a Dodge. You fill in the blanks.

Jerry Nadeau- Hasn't been impressive at Michigan. 12th here at last August's race was the first time Nadeau finished better than 23rd at the track.

Bill Elliott- If Elliott is going to win a race again, this is the place. For years Elliott dominated Michigan like no other driver, with seven wins, four of them coming consecutively back in the 80s. Finished a close second to Ernie Irvan during Irvan's emotional comeback triumph at Michigan in 1997. Eighth in this race last year. Can Ray give him the car?

Terry Labonte- While Labonte has never won here he does have three 2nd place finishes and two 3rds. Last top 20 here was 1998.

Others To Watch:

Jeremy Mayfield- Mayfield seemed to be cruising to an easy win here last year when he got penalized on pit road then lost an engine. Pocono is another high speed low banked track and Mayfield tends to do quite well there.

Robert Pressley- If the rain hadn't stopped, albeit briefly, at this race last season Pressley would have been the surprise winner of the new millennium

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2001

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