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12 Memorable NASCAR Moments at Michigan International Speedway


12. 1995: Mikey Blasts Lake Speed

It’s one thing to go after a guy with your helmet on, it’s another to take a swing at him while he’s sitting in his car. After a last lap tangle in 1995, Michael Waltrip went over to express his displeasure with Lake Speed – with his fist. Great commentary by “The King” afterwards. Ken Squier has a habit of calling some of NASCAR’s best fistfights.

by Vito Pugliese

11. 2009: Vexing Vickers

Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch have had a war of words over the years in NASCAR. After being involved in a wreck at Martinsville with Busch, Vickers dropped a “you can’t fix stupid” bomb on him. Busch was not pleased after this Nationwide race in 2009 and was not short on insults, either. Vickers, however, was not going to let this go without a remark or two of his own.

by Vito Pugliese

10. 2011: Kurt Busch Radio Sweetheart Excerpts

It’s been a while since we had some good Kurt Busch audio, so here are some gems from June 2011. Note him using the HANS device as a weapon against the defenseless in-car camera post-race while driving back to the hauler. I could write more, but why steal KB’s thunder? No earmuffs needed for this one.

by Vito Pugliese

9. 2003: Busch and Spencer: The Untold Story

Ever wonder what happened to set off the real feud between Jimmy Spencer and Kurt Busch all those years ago? This snippet captures it all, including the incident post-race at Michigan in August 2003 around the 1:40 mark. Jimmy clocks Kurt, which led to an investigation by the Lenawee Sheriff’s Department. Spencer was suspended and Busch put on probation. How big of a deal was this? It made the Taipei Times. Seriously, check it out here.

by Vito Pugliese

8. 2010: Get Your Big Meat Hooks Off Me, Joey

Following an incident not unlike the one between he and Denny Hamlin at Fontana this year, Joey Logano goes over to discuss things with Ryan Newman in 2010. Ryan wasn’t wanting to rationalize anything, having just knocked himself out of Chase contention, and as Ron Burgandy would say, “That escalated quickly!” Logano sounds a lot more reserved and not the iceman he has become as of late. If only he’d have some of Newman’s Tornados snacks, he might be able to even out the weight advantage.

by Vito Pugliese

7. 2012: The Dream Machine’s Nightmare

Mark Martin’s No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota was leading the race and preparing to lap Juan Pablo Montoya and Bobby Labonte. However, Labonte loses it while Kasey Kahne piles into Martin (who recommended him for the No. 5 job), sending him spinning down through pit road. Martin lets off the brake and tries to swing the car around, which almost works – until it impales itself on the pit wall. Check out the intrusion into the driver’s compartment and oil tank. Martin pops out, issues stern reply to safety guy, waves to crowd.

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by Vito Pugliese

6. 2009: Milking the Mileage

This one has a bit of a happier ending for Mark Martin. After taking a couple of seasons to rest, regroup and re-evaluate, Martin came back with a full-time vengeance in 2009, scoring five wins and taking the title fight down to the final race at Homestead. His third win of the year was an improbable one. He qualified 32nd, battled radio problems all day, as well as steering that was locking up in the turns — which is probably a lot of fun at 205 mph. After working his way through the field, he ran the final 43 laps at three-quarter throttle, saving a thimble of fuel more than Greg Biffle and teammate Jimmie Johnson, who had decimated the field until theeir tanks went dry.

by Vito Pugliese

5. 1993: Johnny B. Airborne

When you think of great names connected with NASCAR and Michigan, a few come to mind. Jack Sprague. Brad Keselowski. Vito Pugliese. Following an ASA title in 1992, Johnny Benson Jr. got his NASCAR shot in 1993 in Ernie Irvan’s Nationwide car. He didn’t get very far, as on the first lap he went skyward down the backstretch. It would be another seven until Elliott Sadler replicated the feat. Speaking of Sadler, click to the next clip.

by Vito Pugliese

4. 2000: Keep Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

One of the running jokes in racing is the term “practice crash” — as in, “What were you doing, practicing crashing?” Wrecks at speeds approaching 200 mph are no laughing matter, and neither is this tumble Elliott Sadler took during not-so-Happy Hour at MIS in 2000. Between this, his twin Talladega tumbles and that header into that dirt embankment at Pocono in 2010, Elliott may have the record for hardest hits in NASCAR history.

by Vito Pugliese

3. 2003: This Dodge Is On Fiyaaahhh

In 2003, Penske Racing switched from long-time partner Ford to Dodge with its cantankerous driver duo of Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman. In both Michigan races in ’03, each suffered a massive fire which had them blinded by smoke and bailing out for safety; Newman in June, Wallace at the August race. Check out the flames on Newman’s car. You know it’s bad when it’s coming out of the cowl, tail panel and wheel wells.

by Vito Pugliese

2. 1999: Happy Father’s Day

It was the first time Dale Earnhardt Jr. had the opportunity to race his father for real, and it was the closing laps of the IROC race at MIS in 1999. Junior had a shot at it coming off of Turn 4, but with a little bit of side-drafting and a push from Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Sr. was able to eek a .007 second victory — the closest finish in IROC history. After his Michigan Cup win in 2008, Junior recalled the moment with those in attendance, as he sat in the media center looking out at the track, saying, “Damnit, I had him!”

by Vito Pugliese

1. 1991: First Time Winner

Before the “Dale and Dale Show” at the 1993 Daytona 500, it was the “Dale and Davey Show” in ’91. Bob Jenkins makes the call for this one, showing again how to cover the final laps of a race, neither cheering for a particular driver nor talking over the action and trying to be bigger than the moment. Pick things up at the 4:00 mark as the No. 28 and No. 21 battle it out for the win. Jarrett issues a slight rub and a side-draft off the 28 to get to the line first for the first of his 32 career Cup wins. The margin of victory? Since this was before the era of electronic timing and scoring, it was deemed a mere 10 inches.

by Vito Pugliese