Parks Pit Report: Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan

For the first time since Texas last fall, Denny Hamlin celebrates in victory lane at Michigan after his win Sunday afternoon.

Probably one of the most popular tracks among both drivers and fans alike has to be the Michigan International Speedway.  I should know, since I’ve been there.

My dad and I went to this track in 2001 with a couple friends.  We didn’t know what to expect since I hadn’t been to a race in four years, and especially since everyone was still grieving over the death of Dale Earnhardt that February.  But, the seats were complementary thanks to my dad’s good friends, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

I tell you what, if you ever get the opportunity to go to this track…TAKE IT.

The facility is surrounded by nothing but farm land and homes.  It’s a simple two-lane road leading right to the track, but the homeowners on either side are more than willing to let fans from all around park in their huge yards, some for free and others for a small charge.  There’s endless room to tailgate, chat with other fans, and to simply relax.

Once you get into the track, it’s almost as if it’s right at home.  You never even realize the entire track is two miles in length because you’re already impressed by the many yards of souvenir haulers and displays.

After getting a beverage and a couple snacks, you get to the seat and fans soon realize, not one seat is bad.  Whether you are in the front row or sitting right at the back next to the rail, you can see the entire race track.  What does that mean…no matter where the action is, the fans will see it.  Frankly the screen in the infield is the only hindrance for the view, but it only blocks a split second of the lap.

Then finally, the race itself.

Multiple grooves, many different ideas of the best line, and ultimately a winner that is either predictable, or in some cases lucked into it.

It was kind of the situation I had when I was there.  The night before it rained at the track, so all the rubber was washed away.  So, it was a clean race track.  At the same time, forecasters said rain would come later in the afternoon, so it was a matter of wondering if they would make it halfway or not, which would make the race official.

Well, judging by the clouds that soon developed behind the front straightaway, the rain was approaching…and it hit.  The caution came out, and fans took cover.

Lap 100 would mean the race was halfway and would be official.  The race was red flagged…at lap 99.

Unfortunately we had to wait a while, but ultimately everyone in our group decided it was best to leave since the rain would be there for a few hours, and we didn’t have that kind of time to spare.  With a six-hour drive ahead of us at the least, we couldn’t stick around.  The rain began falling harder as we were heading to our truck.

We ended up listening to the race on the way home, and found out it only went another 40 or so laps since more rain came into the area, and would stick around for most of the night.

I wish the trip didn’t end so prematurely, but even today my dad and I wish we could go back to the track.  I’d go just as a media member, and I would have as much fun there.

It wasn’t the best experience I’ve had at a NASCAR race, but it’s certainly in the top-five.

RESULTS: 1-Hamlin  2-Kenseth  3-Kyle Busch  4-Menard  5-Edwards  6-Newman  7-Stewart  8-Bowyer  9-Martin  10-Vickers

NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Kurt Busch  14-Harvick  15-Biffle  17-Gordon  21-Earnhardt Jr.  27-Johnson

CAUTIONS: 5 for 18 laps.  Lap 9-11 (#48 spin-BS), 28-30 (Debris), 85-88 (#2 accident-T1), 160-163 (#42, 71 accident-T4), 192-195 (#88 accident-T2).

LEAD CHANGES: 21 among 12 drivers. Kurt Busch 1-8, Newman 9-11, Kurt Busch 12, Biffle 13-27, Bliss 28, Mears 29, Biffle 30-55, Kenseth 56, Biffle 57-62, Edwards 63, Biffle 64-71, Kenseth 72-84, Kyle Busch 85, Labonte 86, Biffle 87-99, Kyle Busch 100-121, Harvick 122, Menard 123-124, Kyle Busch 125-160, Kenseth 161-163, Edwards 164-192, Hamlin 193-200.

TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 36 Mins, 50 Secs.

AVERAGE SPEED: 153.029 MPH

MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.281 Seconds

POINT STANDINGS (Top-12): 1. Edwards, 532 points; 2. Harvick, -20; 3. Earnhardt Jr, -27; 4. Kyle Busch, -29; 5. Johnson, -29; 6. Kenseth, -41; 7. Kurt Busch, -41; 8. Newman, -76; 9. Hamlin, -77; 10. Bowyer, -77; 11. Stewart, -78; 12. Gordon, -94.

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