Miller 400 – Michigan International Speedway – 6/16/85

NASCAR Winston Cup race number 14 of 28

Sunday, June 16, 1985 at Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI
200 laps on a 2.000 mile paved track (400.0 miles)

Time of race: 2:45:48
Average Speed: 144.724 mph
Pole Speed: no time trials
Cautions: 2 for 15 laps
Margin of Victory: 13 sec
Attendance: 60,000
Lead changes: 19


Bill Elliott and the Coors – Melling Team headed into the familiar and friendly confines of Michigan International Speedway as Elliott won his 7th NASCAR victory of the season. Elliott in his own words said, “I’ve taken a liking to Michigan International Speedway.” Elliott’s team owner Harry Melling lives close to the track at Clark Lake so there are many close ties to MIS. Elliott said, “I have a lot of close friends at Brooklyn, and we stay with friends in Brooklyn when we come here. It just feels like home.”

Elliott started on the pole by being the point’s leader with Darrell Waltrip 2nd. Qualifying was not run prior to the race because of weather. At the start of the race there were some heated battles on the track between Elliott, Waltrip, Harry Gant, Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine. With limited practice and no qualifying the teams had to rely heavily on their notes for the car set up. That made for an interesting first part of the race with teams adjusting on their cars   The win for Elliott was not an easy one. Elliott had to charge back from 9th place to overtake Darrell Waltrip before taking the win. Elliott said, “I was surprised how much the race track changed during the race.” Elliott who was running the top grove at the start of the race moved to a lower line on the track as well as making chassis adjustments on the car. Elliott’s car began to handle much better after the changes in the pits and on the track. Elliott started to sail towards the front of the pack and finished with a strong victory of 13.51 seconds over second place Darrell Waltrip. Cale Yarborough finished 3rd, Tim Richmond 4th and Dale Earnhardt in 5th.

After passing Waltrip the only problem he had to overcome was stretching the fuel to the end of the race. After pitting on lap 174, Elliott was forced to draft behind Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace who were almost a lap down so he could save fuel. After the race Elliott described his fuel supply as, “a close call, awfully close.” Elliott led 66 laps, and there were only 2 cautions. With 19 lead changes it was an action filled race until Elliott took the lead on lap 174 to finish with a commanding lead.

Elliott enjoyed racing Michigan International Speedway and with his smooth driving style, he had some astounding results at this speedway through the years. Complimented by the high HP engines of Ernie Elliott, and the smooth drivelines of Dan Elliott, Bill’s brothers, the Coors Melling Team had some tremendous finishing stats through the years. Elliott ran 61 races at Michigan with 7 wins, 17 top 5’s, 29 top 10’s, and 6 pole positions. Elliott led 1,004 laps of the 11,212 laps he completed on the 2 mile track earning $2,463,235 in total earnings to date. Elliott drove a total of 22,424 miles at Michigan Speedway with an average starting position of 11th, with an average finish of 14.6.

(Article by Dale Brown)

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