The Callahan Report: Mark Martin Wins DeVilbiss 400 At Michigan
18 August 1997BROOKLYN, MI: Class was in session today at the Michigan International Speedway. Jack Roush was the instructor. Roush owns the NASCAR Winston Cup racing cars driven by Mark Martin, Ted Musgrave, and Jeff Burton. Those three cars shared the lead throughout the day in the DeVilbiss 400. Mark Martin was the leader at the end, earning his twenty-first career victory. He came from two laps down to win for the twelfth time on a superspeedway.
Leading up to the race, teams were planning their fuel strategies. If their car could go 50 laps on a tank of fuel, they could run the race with only three pit stops. Mother nature tore up their fuel calculation notebooks. Drizzling rain caused the caution flag to fly many times throughout the race. Fuel was not a concern. Track position and pit timing was.
Martin dominated the race early until a flat tire put him 2 laps down. His motor power, combined with a couple of cautions, allowed him to get both laps back. He also had help from one of his teammates. Jeff Burton was the leader when a mid race caution came out. Burton got on the brakes coming to the start/finish line, allowing Martin to return to the lead lap. Martin then battled his way from the 14th spot to the front. Martin won by 2 seconds over second place finisher, Jeff Gordon. It was Martin's third career victory at Michigan.
Martin was elated with the victory. He said, "Oh man, I wanted to win this thing so bad. I thought I saw it go up in smoke when I blew that tire. I felt it (the car) get a little but funny and I slightly eased it into turn one. I was out of control."
Martin feels he is in contention for the series championship. He is in second place, chasing the series points leader Jeff Gordon. Martin said, "I know how that kid feels on Sunday now. He usually has the car. I had it today." Martin gained ten points on Gordon as a result of today's victory.
Gordon was happy to beat some of the Roush racing cars. He said, "Nobody had anything for Mark. I was surprised I could stay in front of Ted (Musgrave). Mark was toying with everyone. He could watch his mirrors instead of the track in front of him."
Martin's teammates, Ted Musgrave and Jeff Burton, were able to lead the way through much of the race. A late race stop for fuel gave Burton terrible track position. He finished eighth in one of the strongest cars on the speedway. Musgrave was almost as strong as Martin. Musgrave is the only driver on the team not to make a victory lane appearance.
Musgrave knows a victory is coming soon. He said, "I'm glad my teammate won. I was tired of seeing Jeff (Gordon) win. I wasn't going to hold him up, cause I know Jeff is fast too. If we can keep running in the top three, good things will happen. We are getting there."
The Yates team rounded out the top five with Ernie Irvan and Dale Jarrett . Bobby Labonte had another strong showing in sixth, followed by Bill Elliott, Jeff Burton, and Dale Earnhardt.