For the drivers in NASCAR's top series, winning at the fast two-mile Michigan track is important not only because it is one of four chances to secure position for the Chase, but also for bragging rights in Motor City.
Michigan International Speedway is located near the home of the major American car manufacturers. Placing a Chevrolet, Ford or Dodge in Victory Lane is a special source of pride for the entire team.
Drivers dive into turns at speeds of 200 mph with banking of 18 degrees. At superspeedway speeds, it appears almost as a flat track to the pilot of the race car. Grip and balance with the car is mandatory.
The Pure Michigan 400 gave us racing that was fast and furious with much at stake for many drivers. Along the way to the checkered flag, we learned a few lessons, so let's see what they were.
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford, took the checkered flag for his second win of the season and third win at Michigan International Speedway.
Jack Roush, the team owner, is based in Michigan which made the lead all the bigger for the boss and Ford.
Biffle led the points much of the first part of the season and now he is on top of the standings once again by 20 markers.
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford out of Roush Fenway Racing, has failed to win a race this season and heading to Michigan he was 12th in the point standings.
Edwards started his Geek Squad machine on the front row in second position. For him to make the Chase via the wild-card slot, winning was the only thing on his agenda at the Pure Michigan 400.
Once again he was foiled at Michigan. He unofficially finished sixth and remains 12th in the point standings.
Heading to Michigan, four drivers could clinch a berth in the Chase by finishing with a lead of 145 points over the 11th place driver at the conclusion of the race.
The top four drivers in the point standings, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr., were those who could potentially be locked in.
At the end of the race, even with Biffle winning, there were no "clinchers."
Racing at Michigan usually involves long green-flag runs and pit strategy with tires and fuel. The races are usually not two of the more exciting ones on the schedule.
The Pure Michigan 400 was wild and wacky with spins, a spectacular crash, four-wide racing where there was only one really good groove and unexpected engine failures.
Some who needed a win badly remained disappointed, and drivers expected to be strong were in the garage before the checkered flag flew.
There was a bit of everything for NASCAR fans with this race.
Two drivers with the most wins who are highest in points between 11th and 20th position secure the wild-card slots and head into the Chase at the conclusion of the Richmond race.
Currently, Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, looks to have a hold on the first wild-card position by virtue of having two wins.
There were several drivers with one win who really needed a second win to secure that second wild-card slot, but when the race concluded, it was still Ryan Newman who remains 13th in points with one win.
Mark Martin, 53, qualified his No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota on the pole for the Pure Michigan 400.
He led 54 of some 64 laps when Bobby Labonte went for a spin in front of him causing Martin and Kasey Kahne, who was running second, to also spin in an effort to evade him.
Martin slid through the grass into the end of a pit road wall that was Kahne's pit box. The car was impaled by the wall just behind the driver in a very scary accident.
Martin was safe, but his car was destroyed.
Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 47 Toyota for JTG Daugherty Racing, seems to be losing friends quickly in the garage area.
At Watkins Glen, his heavily smoking car sprayed a mist of oil around the racing circuit in the closing laps that resulted in a controversial finish.
The 2000 Cup champion should have pulled his car off the racing surface, but he continued on despite not being in contention for much of anything.
At Michigan, Labonte went for a spin that caused race leader Mark Martin and second place Kasey Kahne to spin while taking evasive action.
Martin slid through the grass into the end of the pit road wall in a frightening accident that could have turned out much worse. Martin's car was destroyed.
Labonte was 24th in points heading to Michigan. The driver remains popular with fans.
He is probably about the best driver his team owners can afford with their less than top-tier status. It seems Labonte's best days as a Cup driver are behind him though.
Jimmie Johnson fired up his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet in the early practice session and the team discovered suspicious problems with the engine. The engine was swapped out and Johnson started at the rear.
Tony Stewart has dropped from fifth to eighth in points during the last few races. He experienced engine problems and headed for the garage. After Michigan, he was ninth in points and completed 109 laps.
Jeff Gordon needed to win badly in hopes of making the wild-card slot. His engine failed on Lap 95. It was thought valve springs were perhaps a common culprit with the failures.
Johnson looked to be the winner, but with six laps to go, his motor let go.
Unofficially Stewart was scored 32nd, Gordon was 28th, Johnson 27th and all three cars were in the garage. Kasey Kahne finished third and Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth.
It seemed to be a replay of the disappointment Kyle Busch felt at Watkins Glen when it looked as though he was going to win the race.
Jimmie Johnson was in command of the race, and with six laps to go, he spoke of an engine problem over the in-car radio. It was thought he was joking until smoke came out the back of the car with six laps to go.
A disappointed Johnson pulled his No. 48 behind the hauler. With his helmet still on, he climbed from the car, walked past the hauler toward his motorcoach.
He made no comment to media or anyone else on his way. Shortly thereafter, he was seen in street clothes getting behind the wheel of his personal vehicle with wife Chandra Johnson.
Johnson dropped from first to fourth in the point standings.
There are just three races left before the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. The stakes are getting higher each week for drivers trying to gain points and wins.
Racing was aggressive at Michigan, a two-mile track. Next week the series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway with the modified tighter racing surface on the half-mile track.
If what we saw at Michigan is any indication, fans are in store for some really action-packed racing not only at Bristol, but Atlanta and Richmond as well.