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Sunday, June 15
Michigan Int'l Speedway
Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates his win. More pix follow the race story...
Earnhardt Jr. Snaps Winless Streak With Michigan Win
BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 15, 2008) - Much to the delight of a screaming partisan crowd, Dale Earnhardt Jr. coasted across the finish line after a nerve-wracking restart to win the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. It was the highly-popular Earnhardt's first NASCAR Sprint Cup points victory in 76 races.
And this one had everyone biting their nails and cracking their knuckles in suspense because Junior ran low on fuel.
When other frontrunners stopped for gas with less than 10 laps top go, Earnhardt's crew chief Tony Eury Jr. decided to gamble that his driver could go the distance without stopping. He told Dale Jr. to preserve as much gas as he could, and Junior slowed his pace and dropped back in the field.
Thinking they were going to fall a lap or two short, Eury and his crew, not to mention the Earnhardt Army of fans, nervously watched the race wind down.
A late-race caution when Sam Hornish Jr. spun out of turn four set up an Alfred Hitchcock ending. Suspense raced through the crowd like a rainstorm, drenching the huge crowd in nervous anticipation.
Dale Jr. cut his car on and off as they circled the two-mile track waiting for the restart. He wiggled his Chevrolet back and forth, trying to make sure every drop of gas in the fuel cell was used.
Earnhardt Jr. takes the checkered flag under caution after Patrick Carpentier crashed on the green-white-checkered restart.
When the flag waved to get them going again, Junior took off strong with Kasey Kahne right on his bumper. The suspense ended when Patrick Carpentier spun and brought out the caution, which meant Junior only had to make the remaining lap at a reasonable speed. He did and then ran out of gas shortly after crossing the start/finish line.
Kahne, winner last week at Pocono, was second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Elliott Sadler and Jamie McMurray.
Kenseth, Vickers and Johnson, who led much of the race, were among the drivers who had to stop for gas.
The first caution flew on the third lap when Dave Blaney's Toyota turned sideways suddenly out of turn two. It was a quick caution, and Johnson lost no time going past Kyle Busch for the lead. Young Brian Vickers raced past Johnson for the lead on the 34th lap, and Johnson repaid the favor the next lap. It was an exciting duel for the two drivers, as they had opened a four-second lead on Earnhardt Jr. and Kenseth. Busch had dropped back in the field when everyone starting making pit stops at lap 39.
Once pit stops were complete, Michael Waltrip, who had pitted during the first caution, led several laps before stopping again. Vickers and Johnson were again in the lead.
It was another miserable day for former Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti, who pulled behind the pit wall with engine problems after 30 laps.
Vickers opened up a lead on Johnson at this point in the race.
The top 10 cars at the 60-lap mark were Vickers, Johnson, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Edwards, Earnhardt, Kahne, Biffle, Gordon and Stewart.
|Dale Jr. (88) passes Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon (24) - whose struggles continue, with an 18th-place finish...
Sam Hornish, Jr., had moved from 35th starting position to 15th, quite impressive for another former Indy 500 winner.
The second round of green-flag pit stops commenced on lap 78. Leader Vickers came in at 80 laps. When everyone had put on tires and filled up with gas, it was Kenseth out front as a result of changing two tires instead of four, which resulted in a quicker pit stop than Vickers, who changed four tires.
At 90 laps, Kenseth led with Vickers in second, almost five seconds back. Johnson was next, followed by Kyle Busch, Edwards, Earnhardt, Kahne, Biffle, Gordon and Harvick. Waltrip was 11th and Stewart 12th.
The third caution of the day, this one for debris on the track, slowed the action at 92 laps.
The race resumed on lap 96 with Edwards in front. At the halfway point, 100 laps, Edwards led Kenseth but Kurt Busch spun on the backstretch bringing out another caution. On the restart a few laps later, it was Edwards, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Johnson, Vickers, Earnhardt, Gordon, Harvick, Kahne and Waltrip in the top 10.
Complete Race Results click here
Post-Race Driver Point Standings click here
Watch a Race Recap click here
Rick Hendrick greets Dale Jr. in Victory Lane...
Dale Jr. celebrates with his team members...
Jean Pablo Montoya celebrates Father's Day with his wife and two children...
Jamie McMurray gives his dad a Father's Day hug before starting the Lifelock 400...
Jeff Gordon and two-year-old daughter Ella...
Broadcast Times - AT*
Qualifying: Friday, June 13 (SPEED at 4 p.m.)
Final Practice: Saturday, June 14 (SPEED at 2 p.m.)
RaceDay: Sunday, June 15 (SPEED at 11:30 a.m.)
Pre-Race: Sunday, June 15 (TNT at 1:30 p.m. / TSN-alt at 2:30 p.m.)
Race: Sunday, June 15 (TNT & TSN-alt at 3 p.m.)
Race - Encore Presentation Monday, June 16 (TSN at Noon)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
The Race: LifeLock 400
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Track: 2-mile oval
The Distance: 400 miles/200 laps
TV: TNT & TSN-alt, 1:30 p.m. (AT)
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS Satellite Radio
2007 Winner: Carl Edwards
2007 Polesitter: J.J. Yeley
Pre-Race Schedule (local track time): Friday -- Practice, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:10 p.m. Saturday -- Practice, 12-12:45 and1:20-2:20 p.m.
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standings click here
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams got three practice sessions at Michigan Int'l Speedway Saturday with Jimmie Johnson
posting the fast lap in the first and third sessions (184.308 mph and 180.162 mph, respectively) - and Greg Biffle fastest in the
second session (at 182.131 mph).
First Practice Speed Chart click here
Second Practice Speed Chart click here
Final Practice Speed Chart click here
Crews push their cars back to the garage from pit road Friday at Michigan after rain cancelled the qualifying session. Sunday's
race will start according to the point standings - giving Kyle Busch the pole - and sending Jason Leffler and Tony Raines home.
Starting Lineup click here
- Michigan Win In 2007 Puts Edwards Back On Fast Track...It started as a joke at the end of a breakout season.
After Carl Edwards' (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) win at Texas Motor Speedway in Nov. 2005, Edwards' motor coach driver and longtime friend Tom Giacchi, famously declared that he wouldn't shave until Edwards' next victory.
For a driver that won four races in his first full season -- and two consecutively in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup -- the wait wasn't supposed to be long.
However, a sophomore slump left Edwards without a win in 2006, and Giacchi with an ever-growing beard.
It took 15 races the following season, but Edwards finally returned to Victory Lane. The win came at Michigan International Speedway in June 2007, the same track at which Edwards finished 10th in his series debut in 2004.
While the win was nice for Giacchi, it has helped put Edwards and the No. 99 team back where they were the previous season--winning races. Edwards won two more races last season (Bristol and Dover) and has already won three through 14 races in 2008. He trails only Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) (seven) in wins in the past year.
- Roush Dominates Michigan...There is nowhere that Roush Fenway Racing performs better than Michigan International Speedway. And team owner Jack Roush, who lives in nearby Livonia, Mich., wouldn't have it any other way.
"We have two-thirds of our activities and two-thirds of our people located in southeast Michigan," said Roush, referring to Roush Industries. "So we've got great support and great exposure for our employees and all the things that means moral-wise.
"We were able to win on the 100th anniversary of Ford Motor Company, I had my 200th win there with Mark Martin and on average we have won more there in all three series than we have at any other track."
Of Roush's 105 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins, 10 have come at Michigan. He also has three NASCAR Nationwide Series wins and three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins.
"I keep waiting for the bubble to burst," Roush said. "I go to Michigan and think we've had way more than our share of good fortune here, when do we start giving it back.
I sure hope it's not this weekend."
- Kahne Hopes To Continue Momentum At Michigan...The day before the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, a frustrated Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) confessed to the media, "to me it's just (our) cars aren't where they need to be to go fast."
The next day, his car was still not where it needed to be to win the Sprint Open. Thanks to a fan vote, Kahne made the all-star race, where his fortunes changed.
Kahne won the race -- his first victory since October 2006 at Lowe's Motor Speedway -- and followed it with a Coca-Cola 600 win the next weekend.
Two weeks later, Kahne added another at Pocono Raceway.
He knows the team is building up to something big that can carry them through the season.
"Momentum is so big in this sport," Kahne said. "The excitement, the confidence and everything; you go to Gillett Evernham right now and everybody is walking around there with a smile on their face, and that's not how it was a month and a half ago. But that's probably how it was in '06. It's just good. Everybody is excited."
This weekend, the team has another chance to add back-to-back wins at a track Kahne has already conquered.
"Michigan has always been a strong track for us and we're looking forward to keeping the momentum going. Everything is clicking for this team right now, it would be great to get back-to-back wins for Gillett Evernham."
- Ragan Closing In On 12th Place; Other Chase Hopefuls Hang Tight...The start to David Ragan's (No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career wasn't exactly a fairy tale, but signs are starting to point to a happy ending.
Ragan was thrust into NASCAR's top series after being named as Mark Martin's replacement in the famous No. 6 Ford in late 2006. After a slow start, during which Ragan was labeled a "dart without feathers", the second-generation driver is starting to come around, displaying the talent that earned him his coveted ride.
Just over halfway towards the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Ragan has put together a solid season and sits seven points out of 12th place -- the cutoff point for Chase eligibility.
"I've been making fewer mistakes on the track," Ragan said. "We've been qualifying better and just overall have had better cars every weekend. I also have been making better decisions throughout the whole weekend when it comes down to practice, qualifying and the race. All of these things combined have definitely helped us get to where we currently are in the points."
Ragan isn't the only driver in position to make a run at a Chase berth. Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge) is 14th, 10 points behind 12th, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Carhartt Ford) is 15th, 34 back, Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) is 16th, 56 back and Brian Vickers (No. 83 Red Bull Toyota) used a second-place finish at Pocono to climb to 17th, 112 back.
That's not to say that others aren't still in the hunt for the Chase. Kenseth was in 24th place, 308 points out of Chase contention in 2005 at this point of the season, and roared back to make the Chase.
- Top 35: No. 66 Chevrolet Leaps Into Locked-In Position...Scott Riggs (No. 66 State Water Heaters Chevrolet) finished 21st at Pocono, bringing his Joe Custer-owned Chevrolet to 34th in the owner standings and a secured spot in Sunday's race. The Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet had previously fallen out of the top 35 after being docked 100 points for improper wing mounting locations.
Riggs' rise came at the expense of Michael Waltrip (No. 55 NAPA Toyota), who fell out of the final locked-in position after a 37th-place finish at Pocono. Waltrip, who is also the car's owner, will be required to qualify for a position in the race at Michigan.
Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge) holds the final locked-in position for car owner Roger Penske. Hornish is guaranteed to make the race at the track Penske used to own.
Forty-six cars are expected this weekend, meaning there will be 11 cars vying for the final eight positions in the race. Two of those cars -- the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford (Bill Elliott) and the No. 45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge (Terry Labonte) are driven by former champions, leaving each another opportunity to make the race if their qualifying speeds aren't quick enough.
- Rookie Standings...Regan Smith (No. 01 Principal Financial Group/DEI Chevrolet) finished ahead of Sam Hornish Jr. in the Pocono 500 to regain the lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings. The two were tied heading into Pocono.
- Manufacturers' Standings...Kasey Kahne's Pocono win put Dodge in Victory Lane for the third time in 2008, tying Chevrolet and Ford. Toyota leads all manufacturers with five wins.
Ford hopes a trip to Michigan will end its 'winless streak'. A Ford driver has not won a race since Carl Edwards' win in Texas on April 6, but the manufacturer has won seven of the last 12 Michigan races. Dodge has won the remaining five races.
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check with the source to confirm.
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