Michigan Driver Handicaps
August 16, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Marlin is the defending champion of this race. Last year’s win here also returned Dodge to victory lane for the first time in decades. 3rd here last spring, but 21st at Michigan last time out.
Martin is a four time winner at Michigan, with his last victory scored here back in 1998. Nine top 10 finishes in the last 11 Michigan Cup races.
Johnson has shown considerable skill on fast, flat tracks but finished 14th this Spring in his only Cup start to date at Michigan.
Stewart finished in the top 10 in his first three Winston Cup races here, but hasn’t had a top 10 finish in his four starts here since. How’s that work? Blame the media!
Gordon has won twice at Michigan, with one win at recent as the spring event of 2001. Top 5 finishes in eight of the last eleven Michigan Cup races.
While Wallace has won five times at Michigan, lately he’s been inexplicably off his game here. Has only three top 10 finishes in the last eleven Michigan races. (Including a seventh place result here this spring.)
Rudd has top 10 finishes in three of the last four Cup races at Michigan including a pair of second place results. This could his weekend.
Based on his performances at Pocono and Indy, two other fast low-banked tracks, Elliott would have been considered a favorite. But based on the dominance of Bill’s Dodge at those two races, NASCAR gave an aero rule concession to the GM cars this weekend which could tip the scale. Elliott is a seven time winner at Michigan, so I still like his chances.
Newman made his first ever career Winston Cup start here last Spring and finished 5th. He was third here in the spring, so if his car holds up look for Newman to be a factor.
Kenseth powered his way to victory here this spring. Haven’t heard much about Matt lately. Surely he’d like to return to the headlines.
Busch did something remarkable here this spring. He didn’t finish dead last as he had in his first two Michigan Cup starts. In fact he finished 10th.
Jarrett scored his first ever Winston Cup career victory at this track back in 1991 prevailing in a stirring fender banging drag race to the finish with the late Davey Allison. DJ is a two time winner with both wins coming from the 11th starting spot for you numerologists. He also finished second in the spring here, one of eight top 5 finishes in the last ten Michigan Cup races.
Waltrip ended a long bout of Michigan futility with a fourth place finish here this spring. He’s devised an interesting strategy to try to win Sunday, but so far NASCAR hasn’t agreed to mandate restrictor plates at Michigan for him.
Burton runs hot and cold here, sometimes very well and sometimes very poorly. 20th here this spring.
While he’s struggled at this track, Craven did surprise a lot of people with a second place finish here last year.
Strange but true. In all the years he’s been racing (and I think you still needed a can opener to open a can of beer when he started) Labonte has never won at Michigan. Last top 10 finish here was 1997 and Labonte has only cracked the top 20 once here since.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Best Michigan Cup finish was 12th. Junior has finished outside the top 20 in four of six Cup races he’s run here to date. Might win the pole though.
Labonte has won three times at Michigan. But, seriously, is this guy still out there racing? Should we put his picture on a milk carton or something. (No, that wasn’t Bobby playing the lead role in the movie “Signs.) Maybe it would help if he wore a T-shirt that read, “I’m the Joe Gibbs Racing driver that isn’t constantly in trouble!” Hasn’t scored a top 10 finish since winning at Martinsville.
36th and 14th and 16th here in the last three Busch races he’s run at Michigan.
Blaney finished 13th here earlier this year and scored top 10 finishes in both Michigan races last year. Good dark horse pick. I mean who else are you going to pick out of his category? Jeff Green?