Another weekend. Another race. Another track that does not excite me. Welcome to NASCAR. Michigan International Speedway, located in the lush, rolling Irish Hills, is about 40 miles southwest of Ann Arbor. The fact it is considered a sister track of Texas, and the basis of the facility in Fontana does not exactly thrill anyone, but they do go fast there.
When one of the legends in the sport leaves us, we remember. If a man is known simply by the company he keeps, Robert Yates did very well. As a team owner, he was the boss to such NASCAR luminaries as Davey Allison, Larry McReynolds, Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, and Ricky Rudd.
“Our sport lost one of the most inventive minds and kindest personalities in Robert Yates. I’m glad I got to know him and proud our race team was able to honor him this year at Darlington. He leaves a strong legacy that is carried on by his son, Doug, and all of their employees at Roush Yates Engines. While Robert will certainly be missed, he will always be remembered.”
While the track is best known for the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR has made its mark there as well. Did you know that “kissing the bricks” was started by Dale Jarrett? In 1996, after winning the Brickyard 400, Jarrett and his crew chief, Todd Parrott, paid tribute to the track’s history by kneeling down and kissing the “Yard of Bricks.”
Michigan. A big track, a fast track. Sadly, not exactly a legacy event, like winning at Daytona or Bristol or Talladega or Indianapolis or Darlington or either road course. What it is, is a track where legends have celebrated since 1969. In fact, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Richard Petty, Dale Jarrett, and Bobby Allison have combined for 46 victories there. That is a lot of suds for a lot of Hall of Famers.
Family. We often hear how NASCAR is a family sport, where drivers, their wives, and their kids all share in the experience behind the scenes. The family theme has dominated since the sport’s earliest years. I mean, it starts with the France family, as Bill, Bill, Jr., and now grandson Brian have held the reins of the family operation since the very beginning.
Tradition. On Sunday, we learned that tradition means something. We learned it is actually worth waiting for its return, though why it took NASCAR a decade to solve the hot, muggy conditions of a day race in early September by simply moving it to the evening still boggles the mind.
After a one-year sabbatical, Matty's Picks is back for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. I had a great year last year, enjoying a few races from the stands as a fan, but I'm back in action this year on the keyboard and behind the camera lens bringing you my less than expert picks for the races each Sunday.