You could say the Cup boys stole the show. After all, Kyle Busch and his Hendrick Motorsports team were fast at Michigan and Casey Mears' Chip Ganassi team actually won Saturday's race. Oh, and let's not forget, the lesser funded Cup team of Hermie Sadler did finish second, so the Cup spotlight shone brightly on the superspeedway. But that would be the easy way out.
Instead, consider that it was Mears' first victory in a stock car and that ARCA helped him accomplish that. And let's not forget the fantastic side-by-side battle between Sadler and ARCA champ Frank Kimmel for the third spot. That specific war in the waning laps of the Flagstar 200 was worth the price of admission itself.
"It was nip and tuck there; I didn't know if I was going to be able to do it for a while, said Sadler with a smile. "I was faster than him, but I had a hard time getting grip in the front-end. And he did a good job of running my line to keep me behind. He knew what I did when I passed him on the outside earlier in the race and he moved up a groove, so I had to go to the bottom and that made it a lot harder. It was the most fun I had in a racecar in a long time."
"It really was a lot of fun; you don't get to do that a whole lot here," commented Kimmel, who is now nearly 400-points ahead of Jason Jarrett in the ARCA standings. "Hermie did a super job; he treated me clean. It was just a good battle. I thought I might be able to shut the door there coming through three and four because I had a really good run there, but he treated me so good I said, 'I can't do that to him.' I just raced him off of there pretty clean and it was a good race to the finish."
After the race, Kimmel climbed out of the car, walked over to Sadler's, leaned in the window and said something to him, but it wasn't what we expected.
"I called him a bad name," laughed Kimmel. "I did. I wasn't mad; I was just joking because it was a good, hard race."
Kimmel is on top of the ARCA world.
Good race may be an understatement if you are Casey Mears and hard certainly wouldn't be an adjective to use to describe his victory. Mears was consistent throughout the race, but as they say, this race was won on pitroad. The Target team enabled Mears to pull off of pitroad first after the last round of pitstops.
"The guys were real fast in the pits today, and I gotta hand it to them because this is a real tough place to pass. You get behind guys and you lose your front-end so bad, it makes it really hard to pass. They got me out front and it was all good," explained Mears.
"That was crucial," echoed Sadler. "They have Winston Cup guys do their pitstops and they did what they had to do. Even though this racetrack is big and wide, it's hard to pass, so if you can do it on pitroad, more power to you. That's a great job by them.
"My car wasn't real good on the restarts and I let Frankie by on the last one. That really cost me a chance at the 77. He probably had us covered, but I would have liked to have a shot at him."
Mears is a Winston Cup rookie this season, but until recently his roots have been firmly planted in the open-wheel ranks and that's what made this win even more special for him.
"It's awesome. I can finally say I got a stock car win, a stock car pole and a track record. I mean, obviously we are coming in with Winston Cup stuff (equipment), we know that, but it's really just about getting me some seat time, and I learned a lot today."
"It was a lot of fun. It's been a long time since I've had a chance to race like that," chimed Sadler after his race with Kimmel for the runner-up spot.
That race had fans on their feet at Michigan Int'l Speedway. Kimmel had the spot and Sadler, whose car was quicker at that stage of the race, wanted it bad. Sadler's car slipped, wiggled and nearly spun, but he hung on to edge Kimmel's #46 at the line.
"Now I have something to base my stock car career on," said Mears after his first stock car win. (Getty Images)
Learning is key for Mears right now and that's why team owner Chip Ganassi began a part-time ARCA program for Mears.
"It's funny because since we are in Winston Cup right now, people overlook the fact that I haven't done anything else in stock car racing. I haven't run any Late Model stuff, I haven't done any Trucks and I had a very limited Busch schedule. What we are doing right now, is we are trying to get me more time behind the wheel of a stock car.
"And it's helped a ton. These guys have been doing this for years and I haven't. It's helping me gain some years on the rest of the competition by doing this, but I still have a long way to go to catch up.
"The win means a whole lot. Every win means a lot and the way we did it was exciting. It's fun and we knew we had a good chance at winning, but at the same time, I've never done this before. It's under our belt now and I feel relieved."
The rest of the regular ARCA competitors may feel relieved that the Cup boys won't be at their next event, at South Boston Speedway on July 2nd.