Michigan Race Recap
August 22, 2004 | 7:02 P.M. EST
The Key Moment - Mark Martin was penalized for a loose lug nut on the pit stop that followed the ninth caution flag. He dropped from the lead to 29th. In an attempt to make up track position the 6 team went with two tires on their final stop and just didn't have the grip to run down the 16 at the end.
In a Nutshell- Even Michigan can be somewhat interesting if there's enough caution flags during the race.
Dramatic Moment - The most intense racing took place after the restarts and there were plenty of those.
What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Define "installed", huh? Alice, when exactly did we fall down this rabbit hole?
Eight caution flags in the first 100 laps at Michigan? What's going on here? Despite nine cautions, the tow trucks never had to roll.
What's wrong with Penske South? Rusty Wallace hasn't scored a top 10 finish in eleven races and Ryan Newman has just two top 10 finishes in the last twelve races. As we approach the two thirds point of the season Newman still has just one win and he's thirteenth in points. Wallace is nineteenth in points. Wallace hasn't finished that poorly in the points since 1985. (Until last year Wallace had finished in the top 10 in the points for ten straight years.)
Who took out Scott Wimmer?
You think NASCAR was breathing a sigh of relief that a member of the Coke family of drivers won a race and left the big blue bottle alone? Is the event sponsor logo prop on the roof of the car a new requirement as well?
Think Joe Gibbs Racing is second-guessing the decision to let Fatback McSwain go now?
What in blazes has gone wrong with the 48 team and their engine shop? Those boys could break an anvil lately.
Why can't Earnhardt and the 8 team figure out these low-banked superspeedways? It's got to be humiliating to run that badly. You know Earnhardt had a terrible run when even the TV guys can't come up with an excuse to interview him after the race.
So Rusty Wallace will make a "major announcement" next week. Didn't we go through this last year with Bill Elliott? Is Rusty going to announce he's promoting a line of jerky and meat snacks with his name on them too?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Jimmie Johnson suffered a mechanical DNF for the third straight race.
Rusty Wallace blew an engine while running third just after the halfway point of the race. It was Wallace's first mechanical DNF of 2004. (He also crashed out at Pocono and ran out of gas at Sonoma.) But I hear he markets a mean beef jerky.
Elliott Sadler's fine run was spoiled by a flat left front tire that beat the bodywork half to death by the time he reached the pits.
Ryan Newman had a flat tire on the grid and was forced to pit three times for debris blocking his grille opening.
The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune
Jack Roush's car took the top two spots and all five of his entries finished in the top 10. Carl Edwards scored a remarkable tenth place finish in his Winston Cup debut.
Kurt Busch recovered from an early spin to finish sixth.
Kasey Kahne also overcame an early spin and a fading engine to finish fifth.
Matt Kenseth overcame a slow pit stop when the jack broke to finish eighth. If Jack ain't broke it's time to buy a new jack to replace the one that broke.
Jeff Burton didn't do too badly in his first ride in the RCR 30 car. He finished twelfth. (Oddly enough Burton has finished twelfth in the last three races and in four of the last five.)
For the fourth time in his on and off Cup career Kerry Earnhardt lost a chance to make a race because of rain. (Talladega and Lowes 2002, Texas 2003, and Michigan 2004)
Fords took the top three finishing spots and six of the top 10 finishing spots. Chevy and Dodge each took two top 10 finishing spots.
Jimmie Johnson still leads all drivers with fourteen top 5 finishes in the 23 Cup races this year, but Jeff Gordon has seventeen top 10 finishes to Johnson's fifteen.
Kasey Kahne was the top finishing rookie in fifth. Carl Edwards, who isn't officially listed as a rookie of the year contender was the only other first year driver to finish on the lead lap.
Greg Biffle won his first Cup race of 2004 and has top 10 finishes in three of the last four races.
Mark Martin has finished second of third in three of the last four races.
Dale Jarrett finished third for the third time this season. He also finished third at Michigan in June.
Jamie McMurray scored his first top 5 finish since Sonoma.
Kasey Kahne has top 10 finishes in four of the last five races.
Kurt Busch has three straight top 10 finishes.
Matt Kenseth has top 10 finishes in four of the last five races.
Jeremy Mayfield hasn't finished worse than eleventh in six races.
Bobby Labonte has failed to finish in the top 10 in the last six races. He's now only thirteen points out of eleventh place in the standings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished outside the top 20 in five of the last six Cup races.
What's the Points?
After eight weeks at the top of the heap Jimmie Johnson fell to second in the points. (Three straight DNFs will do that to a guy.) Jeff Gordon took over the top spot and is 68 points ahead of Johnson. Even if he finishes last in the next three races Gordon will be in the C4C Playoff.
Kurt Busch wrested sixth spot from Elliott Sadler who falls to seventh.
Kasey Kahne takes over the tenth and final playoff spot from teammate Jeremy Mayfield. But Mayfield is just six points behind Kahne.
There are now three drivers in the top 10 playoff spots who haven't even won a race this year.
Mark Martin moved up to twelfth in the standings and Ryan Newman fell to thirteenth in the standings. Martin is 33 points behind tenth place Kahne and Newman is 44 points out of the top 10.
Greg Biffle's win vaulted him up six spots to eighteenth in the standings.
All drivers from 23rd place Terry Labonte on down are now mathematically eliminated from C4C contention.
Robby Gordon fell two more spots to 21st.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) We'll give it three and a half cans of the generic stuff. You don't expect a lot at Michigan and Biffle dominated late but there was some decent racing in the pack for much of the afternoon.
Next Up - Awake, gentle reader, from your summer slumber. The low banked days are behind us and action heats back up Saturday night in Bristol.