Not In My Backyard

Toyota takes ont he Big 3

By Larry Jewett - June 20, 2011 04:49 PM

It’s always high anticipation and expectation for the Big 3 carmakers when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series brings its show to Michigan International Speedway. Since the event is in reasonably close proximity to Detroit, the companies have used it as a place to entertain, offer employee incentives and go head to head with each other on the track itself. Winning a race at Michigan can be very beneficial when it comes to bragging rights for the Mopar camp, the Bowtie guys or the Blue Oval bunch.

When the track opened in the Irish Hills near Brooklyn in 1969, it was truly up to the brands of those three companies to decide dominance. As history shows, Dodge came and went, then came back to NASCAR’s major leagues. In the 21st Century, Dodge has won six times at MIS. Ford dominated the track for a period. In fact, Ford teams (Roush-Fenway and Wood Brothers) have the most wins in the team category. 

A win in the June race usually provided enough fodder for to goad the other guys until the series returned in August. From beyond the boardrooms, those who had a loyalty but no connection to the company except as customers would lick their chops about how “their” brand had done. The “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” thought was more than just an ad slogan.

Times have changed. The ad slogan that comes to mind now is one from the past – “You asked for it. You got it. Toyota.”

Toyota took on the Big 3 in their backyard. Toyota, with Denny Hamlin driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, won the Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips 400. A Ford finished second, a Chevy was fourth and there were no Dodges in the top 10 (Kurt Busch was 11th). Chevy did save some face by taking five of the top 10 spots. Unfortunately, there are no bragging rights for finishing second or beyond.

Toyota is starting to claim Michigan as its own. Hamlin won the race last year as well. Chevy was able to save face when Kevin Harvick picked up the August race. The Big 3 will get another shot at keeping a foothold in their backyard when the series returns on August 21.