Michigan International Speedway, situated on 1,400-plus acres in the Irish Hills of southeastern Michigan, is the fastest track on the Sprint Cup Series schedule after Marcos Ambrose set the track speed record at 203.241 mph in June 2012 in his Ford Fusion following the track’s repave. In 88 previous races, the names Pearson, Elliott, Yarborough and Roush have stood out in the MIS record books, as has the “blue oval” they all used at one time or another.
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“The Silver Fox,” David Pearson, was a 2011 inductee into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and is the winningest driver in NASCAR competition at the two-mile oval. Pearson’s nine wins came in just 29 races at the track, with a resume that also included 20 top-10 finishes and 10 poles (also a record). One of those wins came under the Ford nameplate for Holman-Moody, while the other eight came with another Ford Motor Company nameplate, the Mercurys of Wood Brothers Racing.
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“Awesome Bill from Dawsonville,” Bill Elliott, was another Ford driver who took a liking to Michigan. With seven wins and six poles, Elliott leads all active drivers in those categories. Elliott, who also leads active drivers with 61 starts at MIS, dominated the track in the mid- to late 1980s, winning his seven races between 1984 and 1989; he also compiled a runner-up finish and two third-place finishes in that time frame.
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2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Cale Yarborough took two of his eight wins in Wood Brothers’ Mercurys, including the first race ever contested at Michigan in June 1969. Yarborough holds the record for most top-five finishes at Michigan with 21, and he had 26 top-10 finishes in 36 starts.
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When it comes to the “blue oval,” Ford has the most victories at MIS – 33, which is 13 more than nearest rival Chevrolet. Thirteen of those 33 victories came from Roush Fenway Racing drivers, led by current driver Greg Biffle and former teammate Mark Martin, each with four. Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth both earned two wins with RFR, while Kurt Busch added one of his own. Biffle goes into this weekend’s event as both the reigning winner of the August race and the most recent winner at the track in June of this year.