Michigan 400 Review
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
Congratulations Jr. Nation! He rises to the occasion nearly 2 years after his last big win. Jr. crossed the checkers to the delight and roar of the Michigan crowd, who were on their feet since Jr. took the lead late in the race. The stands erupted once the race ended, much to the chagrin of others like Brian Vickers, who thought that he had the win sealed up.
The problem arose when NASCAR put Vickers behind Jr. after a caution period. According to Vickers, he was ahead of Jr. the entire time, even when the caution sequencing occurred. Vickers was not happy, but officials believe that Jr. was ahead at the time of the sequence. In my opinion, Vickers should be happy because if he got put in front of Jr., he’s asking to be hated.
Jr. had a dominant car pretty much all day long. Vickers did as well. Both cars seemed to be dialed in. At one point, Vickers was halfway around the track when Kevin Harvick, who was in 10th place at the time, was crossing the start/finish line. It was definitely a race fans’ race. There were plenty of periods of straight green flag racing and plenty of small caution periods as well, but there really were no big wrecks or disputes on the track.
Jeff Gordon failed to produce great results for yet another week. He faded quickly to around 20th position where he teetered all day long. His teammate Jimmie Johnson definitely had more than Gordon as far as the cars went. He was able to stay within the top 5 for the better part of the race.
Essentially, this race was a fuel race because of the extended number of laps due to the cautions. Mark Martin ended up running out of fuel after running in the top 5. Jr. was concerned about his mileage and was fortunate enough to make it to the checkered flag without incident. As he saw the white flag, a caution came out as a crash happened behind him. Jr. turned his engine off and coasted until turns 3 and 4 where he revved ‘er back up and made it to the finish.
Although this was his first win in over 2 years, Jr. says that he never doubted his ability to win or run well. In fact, he was simply ecstatic that he had the opportunity to run a Hendrick car and to be running as well as he has all year long. If you think about it, he’s the highest in the points among the 4 Hendrick drivers. That’s hard to believe seeing Gordon and Johnson’s domination over the past couple of years.
It really didn’t matter who your driver was this weekend. Everyone loves to see an Earnhardt win. It certainly brings back fond memories, and how can you dislike someone as gracious as Jr.? That’s a hard thing to do. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.
The top 10 finishers this weekend were:
1. Dale Earnhardt. Jr.
2. Kasey Kahne
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Brian Vickers
5. Tony Stewart
6. Jimmie Johnson
7. Carl Edwards
8. David Ragan
9. Elliot Sadler
10. Jamie McMurray
Too many drivers were too scared to take a fuel gamble. It paid off for Jr., but others who went in for caution lost valuable track position.
There was not a whole lot of change within the points this week. No drivers moved in or out, but some gained or lost a position or two.
1. Kyle Busch
2. Jeff Burton
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Carl Edwards
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Kasey Kahne
8. Greg Biffle
9. Jeff Gordon
10. Kevin Harvick
11. Tony Stewart
12. Clint Bowyer
I am wondering when guys like Harvick, Stewart, and Gordon are going to get their game together a little bit. Talk about a year of inconsistency. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of the big names isn’t in the chase this year just because of that fact. I’d be sad, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
This weekend, we’re headed to Infineon Raceway for our first road race of the year. This should be a great battle for drivers like Gordon and Stewart who have struggled so far this year. It’s a great track for both of them, and their rivalries are sure to come out.