Through the first four months of the season, the sky was proverbially falling for Ford. While slogging through the first part of the year with just two wins in the first 14 races, its rivals Toyota and Chevy were alternating visits to Victory Lane.
As the results dried up, the excuses began to flow in excess.
First, it was a "systemic problem" that was holding back the Blue Oval Brigade. It had something to do with aerodynamics and high-tech computers. Then, the shortage of success was attributed to a lack of cohesion among Roush Fenway Racing and Penske Racing.
And just this past week, Brad Keselowski had yet another reason why Ford was struggling to find its footing. The defending Sprint Cup champion claimed that the pilfering of key personnel by Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing was preventing Roush and Penske from sharing as much pertinent information as needed.
Never mind the fact that this is an issue every organization faces and that Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs quickly and vehemently dismissed the allegation.
But at Michigan International Speedway, in the backyard of the epicenter of the auto industry, the excuses came to a screeching halt. Because in a showdown between Ford and Chevrolet, it was Ford who came out ahead, with Greg Biffle scoring his first win of 2013.
It was a monumental victory not only because it occurred at Michigan -- a track at which every manufacturer desperately wants to win due to the bragging rights -- but also because it was Ford's 1,000th NASCAR victory.
However, as much as Ford can rejoice knowing that its slump appears over, the manufacturer's revival really shouldn't have occurred Sunday.
The Quicken Loans 400 was a race no Ford had any business winning, as the race was dominated by the four drivers from Hendrick. But bad luck saw Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all in the garage just past the halfway mark.
Then there was Jimmie Johnson, who had the fastest car all day, but whose pit strategy was so out of sync with everyone else that it became routine for him to lose a vast number of positions whenever he pitted.
Instead of another convincing win for the second-straight week, the No. 48 team was continually having to come from behind and scramble in the closing laps in a desperate attempt to chase down Biffle.
All of which led to him pushing too hard and cutting tire while running second with three laps to go. He finished 28th.
"I'm really, really sorry. I totally f***** you today. I'm embarrassed," Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus radioed him afterward.
For the second time in three races, the 48 team had thrown away a surefire win in the closing stages due to a self-inflicted mistake. It's a terrible habit for a group that often appears unbeatable.
The only blemish on an otherwise breakthrough win for Ford was a potential rift that developed within the Roush organization between Biffle and Carl Edwards.
With roughly 40 laps remaining, Edwards' engine was overheating due to debris on his grill and he wanted his teammate to help remove it. Not wanting to cost himself valuable time, Biffle refused and Edwards was forced to pit early to resolve the issue where he was then trapped a lap down when the caution waved.
"It's his job to help me," Edwards told Sporting News post-race. However, Jack Roush disagreed, saying he gives his drivers no team orders and Biffle did what was best to win.
"These races are very, very hard to win," Biffle said trying to explain his reasoning. "... This is a competitive sport."
"We try and help our teammates as much as we can, and if it would have been the middle of the race, not a problem."
In a year where Ford hasn't done much winning, it's hard to disagree with this mentality. Before this weekend this was a season defined by frustration for all those in the Ford camp. Now that there is reason to celebrate, the euphoria shouldn't be diminished in the immediate aftermath.
Sunday wasn't a day to make excuses. It was a day to produce results.