Race Review: Carfax 400

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Carfax  400Welcome race fans to the Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI. This is the twenty-third race of the season. There’s plenty of room on this wide 2 mile track for lots of racing. And, better still, there was no rain, so qualifying took place on Friday. One driver had to go home, which makes me wonder why this track couldn’t hold one more car. But I don’t make the rules. Tony Raines in the #37 car had to go home.

Former Cup Champion Bill Elliott is in the #21 Woods Brother’s car. He got in on speed, qualifying ninth. In the #25 is Brad Keselowski, who won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race here the day before, beating points leader Kyle Busch and pole sitter, Brian Vickers. Michigan is Brad’s home track. In the 36 this week, is NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular, Mike Skinner. NASCAR racing came to MIS in 1969 and this race is the eighty-first race. 9 Kasey Kahne had to change the engine in his car, and will start from the rear, with the one-engine rule. He says if points leader, Tony Stewart can  do it, so can he. 36 Skinner and 66 Dave Blaney also changed engines.

On the pole for this race, as well as for the Nationwide race is 83 Brian Vickers with a speed of 187.242. 5 Mark Martin shares the front row with Brian, starting second. The weather man said there is 0% chance of rain. So, here we go. 5 Martin leads the first lap. 2 Kurt Busch takes second from 83. 48 Jimmy Johnson and 83 battle for third. 48 takes the spot. Rain is falling on pit road! 83 gets back by 48.

The first caution comes out on lap 7 for rain! And they said there would be no rain. On lap 8, the pace car leads them down pit road, and the Red Flag comes out to wait out the rain and dry the track. It was a short shower and they get back to Yellow in nineteen minutes. 96 Bobby Labonte stays in the pits with the hood up. The top eleven cars stay out, while the back of the pack pit for tires and fuel.

5 chooses the outside for the restart, since he started the race there and took the lead. 96 goes to the garage. 71 David Gilliland also goes to the garage. The Green Flag drops on lap 12. 11 Denny Hamlin gets by 83 for fifth. 48 takes second from 2. 7 Robby Gordon makes it four-wide to get by all three cars. 48 is catching the leader 5. They battle, but 5 stays in the lead. They battle again and 48 takes the lead. 71 is back out on the track, nine laps down.

2 nearly brushes the wall. 17 Matt Kenseth is hearing something he doesn’t like. 17 and 42 Juan Pablo Montoya battle, 17 low and 42 high. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gets by 00 David Reutimann and 18 Kyle Busch. 39 Ryan Newman pits to start Green Flag Pitting on lap 40. 24 Jeff Gordon gets by 42 for eighth. He started twenty-first. 17 leads when 48 pits. 24 leads when 17 pits. 33 Clint Bowyer leads a lap and then pits. 6 David Ragan leads when 33 pits. 99 Carl Edwards leads, then pits. When the pitting is all over, 11 leads the way. 11 and 48 battle for the lead, and 48 takes it.

The second caution comes out during the commercial when 7 gets into the wall on lap 53. 11 had trouble getting out  of the pits. 98 Paul Menard stays out to lead and chooses the outside. 39 comes back into the pits. At the restart, they are 3, 4 and 5 wide around leader 98. 17 takes the lead. 48 gets around 24 for second. 5 and 83 battle for fifth. 48 catches the leader 17 and takes the lead. 18 nearly gets into 88 and 31 Jeff Burton.

5 gets by 17 for second. 11 gets by 42 for tenth, then battles 99 for ninth. 88 has a vibration and pits. 83 drives by 24 for sixth. 83 gets by 33 for fifth. 5 is catching leader 48. 17 and 18 pit to start Green Flag Pitting again on lap 95. 5 and 48 battle for the lead, and 5 takes the lead. 39 Newman says his car is driving like a school bus. 83 leads when 5 and 48 pit. 48 gets back into the lead. 14 Tony Stewart and 99 get by 88. 24 gets by 33 for fourth. 09 Mike Bliss, 87 Joe Nemechek, 71 Gilliland, 36 Skinner, 66 Blaney and 96 Labonte are all out of the race.

The third caution again comes out during the commercials. This time  for debris. 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. is the Lucky Dog and gets his lap back. However, he goes back into the pits for fuel a second time and they take the lap back from him. 14 comes out of the pits first with only two tires to lead. He chooses the outside when they go Green on lap 121. 48 takes the lead. And the fourth caution comes out a lap later. 6 and 2 got together and they both spin. 2 hits the inside wall and they go to the garage. 6 heads for the pits before pit road is open so he can change tires before they blow. 99 gets by with slight damage. 98 Paul Menard is the lucky Dog.

48 chooses the outside for the restart on lap 125. 48 spins the tires on the restart and 14 takes the lead. 48 takes it back. 5 gets by 14 for second.17 and 14 battle for third. 83 and 99 get by 14. 83 and 99 get by 17. 24 gets by 14 for sixth. The fifth caution comes out for spinning 6. 77 got loose and into 6. The top ten stay out. 2 is getting a new nose on his car. 99 fakes pitting and has to blend back in, loosing a spot. There is some rain again.

They go back to Green on lap 147. 17 gets by 5 for second. 9 and 42 get together and 42 gets his tire cut. He has to pit, but they stay Green. 24 gets by 5 for third. 24 and 5 get by 17. The sixth caution comes out for rain. The top ten pit, but those that just pitted stay out. 00 Reutimann leads. 88 takes the lead.

The seventh caution comes out for spinning 12 David Stremme. 42 Montoya is the Lucky Dog and is back on the lead lap. 88 and 20 Joey Logano pit, putting 83 in the lead. He chooses the outside. 29 Kevin Harvick and 5 get by 17. 5 and 29 battle for third. 5 gets by. 48 and 83 battle for the lead. 48 takes the lead. 33 and 17 battle for sixth. 99 goes between 33 and 17 to take sixth. 88 and 07 Casey Mears get by 17. 88 gets by 77 for sixth. 48, 83, 24, 99 and 5 are in danger of running out of fuel. 88 can make it. 88 gets by 99 for fourth. 99 doesn’t have the fuel to battle with 88. 33 and 20 get by 5, who runs out of fuel. 48 pits for fuel with two laps to go, and can’t get the car started.

5 finishes thirty-first and 48 finishes thirty-third. And 83 Brian Vickers has enough fuel to finish the race as the winner. Barely. He runs out before getting to Victory Lane. 24 has enough fuel to finish second. 88 finishes third with plenty of fuel. He was just too far behind to catch them for the lead and they didn’t run out. When they were here in June, Jimmy ran out of fuel leading and Martin won the race. This time he did it again. And pole sitter Vickers wins. This is the first time a Toyota has gone to Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway. And Brian’s first win since 2006 at Talladega. 9 finishes eleventh. Not bad for starting from the rear.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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