Yarborough continues to master Michigan

Sunday, June 20, 1982 – Three-time NASCAR premier series champion Cale Yarborough continued his mastery of the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway, recording his sixth career victory in the Gabriel 400. Yarborough’s No. 27 Buick, fielded by owner M.C. Anderson, led 73 of the race’s 200 laps and survived a last-lap encounter with Darrell Waltrip to earn the win.

Waltrip dove underneath Yarborough in Turn 3 on the white-flag lap and there was brief contact but Waltrip couldn’t make the pass. On the cool-down lap, Waltrip again made contact with Yarborough, but wound up spinning into the grass. Asked about the altercation, Yarborough said “Guess I’ll have to meet him in the Big K parking lot.” Waltrip, upset over fan reaction to his crash in the World 600 at Charlotte, had earlier suggested “putting out a bulletin that I’ll be at the Big K parking lot … and anybody that don’t like me can show up.”

Bill Elliott, Bobby Allison and Ricky Rudd completed the top five.

The race was delayed twice by rain for a total of 3 hr., six min. Once the rain stopped, the race didn’t go green again until 7:20 p.m. It finished at 9:12 p.m.

Robin McCall, 18 and only recently out of high school, made her NASCAR premier series debut, finishing 29th in the J.D. Stacy-owned No. 5 Buick.

Ron Bouchard started on the pole for the second time in his career.

Labonte wins again, Waltrip fined

Sunday, June 18, 1995 – Three weeks after winning for the first time in the NASCAR premier series, Bobby Labonte returns to the winner’s circle with a victory in the Miller Genuine Draft 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The driver of the No. 18 Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing beat runner-up Jeff Gordon by 0.27 second.

Labonte is one of 12 drivers who won in their third start following their first career victory. He had earned win No. 1 the previous month when he captured the Coca-Cola 600.

It was the fourth career victory for the Joe Gibbs Racing organization.

Gordon had passed Labonte for the lead with just 17 laps remaining in the 200-lap affair. Labonte regained the lead for the final time four laps later.

Rusty Wallace, John Andretti and Morgan Shepherd completed the top five.

A battle for position in the closing laps spilled over onto pit road following the race when Michael Waltrip punched fellow driver Lake Speed while Speed was still inside his car. A day after the incident, NASCAR fined Waltrip $10,000. Speed finished 11th in the race, Waltrip 12th. “He’s 6-3, 210 pounds,” Speed said the following day during a break in testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I didn’t even lower my visor let alone take off my helmet.” Waltrip, while accepting the NASCAR decision to levy a fine, said he felt “this fine is a little steep for what I did.”

Geoff Bodine was fined $5,000 by NASCAR for ignoring a black flag after hitting the wall with less than 10 laps remaining. NASCAR officials stopped scoring the owner/driver with three laps remaining.

Elliott ends skid with MIS victory

Sunday, June 15, 1986 – Bill Elliott, winner of 11 races the previous season, scores his first NASCAR Cup Series win of ’86 with a victory in the Miller American 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The victory ended a 14-race skid for the Dawsonville, Ga.-based racer. Elliott made the winning pass with five laps remaining when he overtook Harry Gant. It was the 16th win of his career and fourth on the 2-mile MIS layout.

Gant, the runner-up, was racing a week after sustaining injuries in the waning laps at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Also injured in the Pocono crash was veteran independent driver Buddy Arrington.

Rick Baldwin, driving in place of Arrington at MIS, was critically injured when his entry slammed into the wall while attempting to qualify. Baldwin remained in a coma for 11 years before passing in 1997.

Richard Petty was honored in pre-race for making what was said to be his 1,000th career start in the Cup Series. Daughters Lisa, Rebecca and Sharon gave the command to start engines twice – first for their father and then for the remainder of the field. However, Petty actually reached the milestone start three weeks later when the series visited Daytona International Speedway. The mistake was due to Petty being credited with a non-points start in 1959.