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Friday, August 19, 2011

Denny Hamlin looks to repeat at MIS; Danica Patrick goes NASCAR road racing

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Denny Hamlin pulled into Victory Lane at MIS in June, and has plans to do the same this weekend at MIS.

"We do, and at this point if we would've won (at Pocono), then I'd be real optimistic but it's so unpredictable. Some of our
best race tracks we've had the biggest amount of issues at. So, it's so tough to say what's going to be our strong suit
nowadays,” Hamlin said. “Michigan has been a good track. I don't think we've finished any worse than second over the last three races, so we need to go there and we need to perform well. The track changes quite a bit obviously in those few months -- gets a little bit warmer and it loses a small amount of grip. The setups we've run over the last few years have been pretty similar from the first race to the second."

Desmond Howard will be MIS Grand Marshall
Former Wolverine Desmond Howard will be the Grand Marshall for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400. The current ESPN college football analyst celebrates an anniversary, as does ESPN NASCAR analyst Dale Jarrett. Their careers intertwine in a way – with Joe Gibbs as the common thread. Howard is celebrating the 20th anniversary of winning the Heisman Trophy for the University of Michigan. It’s also the 20th anniversary of Jarrett’s first career NSCS victory in 1991 for the Wood Brothers at Michigan. There’s the ESPN connection between the two, but there’s also this: Howard was selected by Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins in the 1992 NFL Draft and played for Gibbs in the final season of his first stint as Redskins coach. Gibbs and Jarrett would team up in 1993 for a Daytona 500 win.

Danica goes NASCAR road racing
Alert the media. Danica is back, and she’s turning right. Danica Patrick will be making her stock-car debut on a road course this weekend in Montreal. In her last start, she finished 10th in the Daytona Nationwide race.
Also, Scott Speed will make his first series start since 2009, driving the No. 33 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc.

-- There are 14 Fords participating in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
-- As a manufacturer, Ford has taken the checkered flag 31 times at Michigan, the most of any manufacturer.
-- The most recent Ford win at MIS came in 2008 when Carl Edwards grabbed the checkered flag at the fall race.
-- Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle are all two-time winners at MIS.
-- A pair of Ford owners, the Wood Brothers and Jack Roush, are tied for the most owner wins at MIS with 11 apiece.
-- Hall of Famer David Pearson piloted his Wood Brothers Mercury to the most wins in MIS track history with nine and the most poles with 10.
-- The No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford of Trevor Bayne is running a special paint scheme designed by seven-year-old Katie Hahn of Omaha, Neb., winner of the fourth-annual “JDRF Race Car Design Contest,” hosted by the Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford, will drive a specially designed tie-dyed No. 21 car designed by seven-year-old Katie Hahn of Omaha, Neb. Katie was winner of the fourth-annual “JDRF Race Car Design Contest,” hosted by the Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Bayne unveiled the car Thursday at Ford World Headquarters and talked about the scheme and the upcoming weekend at MIS.

“I am really excited about the weekend, mainly because of the partnership with JDRF and Motorcraft and Quick Lane. They have done a great job of putting the program together and this paint scheme on my car looks awesome and Katie, our contest winner, did a great job of designing this crazy, colorful car with tie-dye on it. I know the Wood Brothers are excited for it and so am I. We are excited to get on the track with it.,” Bayne said.

Bayne said he enjoys racing at MIS.
“I like Michigan. You can always move around there. You aren’t boxed in and you can run the top, bottom or middle. You want your car to drive good everywhere, but you can make passes here and I am pumped about that. We ran pretty decent here last time, finished 16th, but we are looking for a top-15 or top-10 finish this time around. The Woods have always run pretty well here, so hopefully we can bring this car home to a top-10.”

Roush notes
-- Carl Edwards & Trevor Bayne will do double duty between Michigan & Montreal this weekend. Both drivers will fly to Montreal Saturday morning after Cup practice.
-- Michigan International Speedway is team owner Jack Roush’s ‘home track.’ Located about an hour’s drive away from Roush Industries in Livonia, MIS has been the most successful Sprint Cup track on the circuit for Roush Fenway Racing.
-- Roush Fenway has led over 2000 laps in Sprint Cup action at Michigan and has led over 3,000 in combined NASCAR action at MIS.-- Roush Fenway’s 21 total NASCAR wins at Michigan are the most at any track for the team. Carl Edwards earned Roush Fenway’s 21st NASCAR win at Michigan, via the NNS this spring.
-- In addition to the impressive 11 Sprint Cup Series wins at MIS, Roush Fenway has won four times in the Nationwide Series and five times in the Truck Series at Michigan. Overall Roush Fenway has collected 21 wins,82 top fives and 129 top 10s in NASCAR action at Michigan.
-- Nine different drivers have driven into victory lane at NASCAR races at MIS for Roush Fenway. Five in the Sprint Cup Series (Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards), three in the Nationwide Series (Martin, Jeff Burton and Edwards) and four in the Trucks (Biffle, Travis Kvapil, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun).

Ambrose is only fourth international winner in NASCAR
When he won Monday at Watkins Glen, Marcos Ambrose added his name to a very short list – foreign-born winners in NASCAR.
The Australian joins Italy’s Mario Andretti, Canada’s Earl Ross and Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya as the only drivers born outside of the United States to have won a Cup race.

-- Mario Andretti, a native of Italy and future Indianapolis 500 and Formula One World Champion, won the 1967 Daytona 500 in dominant fashion, leading 112 of 200 laps in a Ford out of the famed Holman-Moody stable. Andretti drove the race in a style previously unseen at the 2.5-mile superspeedway: His racing line used all the track, diving down to an apex and letting the car slide, tail out, up the banking on the exit of the corners.Andretti won under caution, leading teammate Fred Lorenzen by a half lap before the yellow waved with two laps remaining.
-- Canadian Earl Ross, a short track competitor, hardly carried the credentials of an Andretti. In fact, Ross in 1974 effectively bought a seat in a Chevrolet owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson thanks to sponsorship of Canada’s Carling Brewery. No matter; Ross became one of just five winners during the season, joining these legends: Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Bobby Allison. He also became just the second rookie of the year to win in NASCAR’s premier series.
Ross won Martinsville Speedway’s Old Dominion 500, leading the final 79 laps after teammate and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Cale Yarborough’s engine expired. He won by more than a lap over Buddy Baker in a 30-car field that included NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and Richard Childress. Unfortunately for Ross, sponsorship dried up and the Prince Edward Island native returned to Canada where he continued to race into the 1990s.
-- Juan Pablo Montoya of Bogota, Colombia, came to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after winning the 2000 Indianapolis 500 and seven Formula One races. His first victory came at Infineon Raceway in 2007 driving for his current owner Chip Ganassi. Montoya started 32nd in the race and led just the final seven laps around the 1.99-mile road course. He enjoyed a 4.07-second margin of victory over Kevin Harvick. Montoya completed the career sweep of NASCAR Sprint Cup road courses, winning at Watkins Glen International in 2010.

Dodge Montreal notes
-- Maryeve Default will be making her first career Nationwide start this weekend driving the No. 81 Dodge Challenger.
-- Robby Gordon is making his first Nationwide start since Montreal last year. He led 17 laps and finished 14th.
-- Quebec natives Alex Tagliani and Jacques Villeneuve will be piloting Dodge Challengers prepared by Penske Racing. Villeneuve is making his second NNS start this season in No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger. He finished third at Road America.

“I'm looking forward to the NAPA Auto Parts 200 - it's always an exciting race but in addition, it obviously has special meaning for me because the Circuit (Gilles Villeneuve) holds my father's name and I'll be racing in my hometown,” Villeneuve said. “After our good showing at Elkhart Lake, I know the No. 22 Discount Tire/Ruby Tuesday Dodge will be competitive and together with the Penske team, we'll definitely be turning up with the goal of winning."

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