A Look Back At Busch Series Racing At The Milwaukee Mile

Saturday night, June 23 will mark the seventeenth appearance for the NASCAR Busch Series at the Milwaukee Mile. The first NASCAR race at the Milwaukee Mile occurred on May 13, 1984 when veteran Sam Ard held off Wisconsin?s own Alan Kulwicki to win the Red Carpet 200. The Busch Series was certainly different from what a fan would see today. Back then, the cars were predominantly older GM models, mostly Oldsmobile Omega?s and Pontiac Ventura?s. The cars had more of a stock appearance, stock body panels and even had chrome metal bumpers. Car count was bit of an issue back in 1984 as only 26 cars make the trek up north. However drivers in the field included Busch Series champion?s Ard, Jack Ingram and Tommy Houston who were the front-runners back then. Future stars Kulwicki, Davey Allison and Dale Jarrett added flavor to the field. NASCAR Champion Darrel Waltrip was in the field along with Wisconsin short-track legend, Dick Trickle. Trickle who started the race on the pole eventually came home third while NASCAR Superstar Bobby Allison and future Superstar Dale Jarrett came home in fourth and fifth place respectfully.

The 1985 Milwaukee Sentinel 200 race saw NASCAR Busch Series legend Jack Ingram hold off a charging Rick Mast to win by one car-length. Alan Kulwicki won the pole but dropped out after 131 laps when the engine blew on his SAI Roofing Pontiac. Virginian Jimmy Hensley finished third over Dale Jarrett and Tommy Houston.

After an eight year hiatus, the Busch Series returned to the Milwaukee Mile on July 4, 1993. Chicago native, Bobby Dotter grabbed the pole position for the Havoline 250 as his father, ARCA veteran Bob Dotter was also in the starting field. Eight cautions spiced the action in front of a capacity crowd as Steve Grissom won in his powder blue #31 Chevy Lumina as second-generation driver Larry Pearson ended up second. Hermie Sadler, David Green and Tom Peck followed Pearson across the finish line. NASCAR Winston Cup drivers, Darrell Waltrip, Harry Gant, Rusty Wallace and Davey Allison were also in the field. On a sad note this was Allison?s penultimate race as he would perish in a helicopter crash a week and a half later at Talladega. Red Farmer who qualified Allison?s car at Milwaukee survived the crash.

Mike Wallace removed himself from his brother?s shadow at the Mile as he won the 1994 Havoline 250 Busch Series race. The race finishing under caution was ironic as there only had been three in the race for a total of 13 laps. Kentucky?s David Green came home second as Michigan-native Johnny Benson, Jr. finished third.

Dale Jarrett who earlier in the month had been criticized for his lackluster performance in the Robert Yates Thunderbird on the ?Cup side quieted those critics when he won the 1995 Sears Auto Centers 250 at the Milwaukee Mile. Jarrett held off series regulars Larry Pearson and Jeff Green in winning his first race at the Mile. Polesitter, Dennis Setzer came home fourth with Mike McLaughlin finishing fifth. Jarrett would win two weeks later at Pocono, his first Cup win with Robert Yates Racing.

It looked like Dick Trickle was on his way to victory in the 1996 Sears Auto Center 250. However with Goodyear bringing a soft tire ?marbles? were the story of the day because if you drifted a bit too high, you were in trouble. That?s what happened to Trickle with four-laps to go he drifted a bit too high coming out of turn four sliding into the walll and handing the victory to series upstart, Buckshot Jones. Jones held off McLaughlin and Randy LaJoie on the final restart to take his first NASCAR victory.

Randy LaJoie came back the following year to win the 1997 Sears Auto Centers 250. LaJoie held off the Sadler brothers-Elliott and Hermie before the race once again finished under the caution flag. The veteran from the Northeast won over $41,000 and led 20 laps enroute to victory.

Second-generation superstar, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won over the fans enroute to victory as he bested Elton Sawyer and polesitter Jeff Purvis in winning the 1998 DieHard 250. Earnhardt dominated the event leading 208 of the 250 laps which saw six cautions for 20 laps. David Green came home fourth as Wisconsin?s own, Matt Kenseth finished fifth.

Casey Atwood did the bump and win as he ?tapped? Jeff Green in the north turn on the last lap to win the 1999 DieHard 250 at the Milwaukee Mile. The youngster who had flipped spectacularly at Daytona earlier in the year was all business as he grabbed his first Busch Series victory. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ended up third with Glenn Allen, Jr. fourth and Matt Kenseth coming home with another fifth place finish.

Jeff Green dominated the 2000 Sears DieHard 250 as he led 210 of 250 laps enroute to victory. Green who also was fast qualifier bested Jeff Purvis and Randy LaJoie in easy fashion. Tim Fedewa and Jason Keller ended up fourth and fifth.

Roush Racing upstart Greg Biffle easily pulled away from Matt Kenseth after the last caution to win by 13 seconds. Biffle 19 laps in winning the 2001 GNC Live Well 250 at the venerable oval. Polesitter Kevin Harvik ended up fourth behind surprising Kevin Grubb. Jason Keller had his second-straight fifth place finish at Milwaukee.

Two for two, Greg Biffle became the first repeat winner in the Busch Series at Milwaukee as he won his second straight GNC Live Well 250. Biffle dominated the event leading 168 of 250 laps. Jason Keller finished .438 seconds behind as Scott Wimmer, Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Tony Raines followed.

Jason Keller finally broke through with a victory after three straight top-five finishes at the Milwaukee Mile enroute to winning the 2003 GNC Live Well 250. The race finished under caution as Keller was ahead of young chargers, Brian Vickers and Davis Stremme. Keller led 21 laps as five cautions for 18 laps temporarily slowed festivities.

Ron Hornaday, Jr. passed polesitter David Stremme late in the 2004 Alan Kulwicki 250 to win his first Busch Series race at the Milwaukee Mile. No stranger to victory lane at Milwaukee as Hornaday previously won the 1997 Craftsman Truck Series race. Stremme ended up second as defending champion Jason Keller was third. Firebrand Shane Hmiel was fourth as Bobby Hamilton, Jr. crossed the line in fifth.

Wisconsin boys Johnny Sauter (2005) and Paul Menard (2006) have won the last two Busch races at the Milwaukee Mile. The question is will Scott Wimmer or Todd Kluever carry on the streak?

Tickets are currently available for the June 22nd Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, the June 23rd AT&T 250 NASCAR Busch Series race, and the speedway?s traditional August 24th ? 26th Governor?s Cup stock car race weekend that will feature Wisconsin NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series superstar Matt Kenseth. Call 414-453-877 or for additional ticket information.

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