by Garrett Horton
After having four straight finishes outside the top-20, Jeff Gordon has now finished 19th or better the last four weeks, allowing him to move back into the top-20 in points.
With his runner up finish on Sunday, Tony Stewart now has five consecutive top-10 finishes at Michigan.
Carl Edwards is without a doubt experiencing the same hangover that has plagued recent championship runner-up’s. His best finish this year has been a fifth-place effort, coming twice at Las Vegas and Fontana. This comes less than a year after he placed fifth or better in more than half of the 36 races last year.
Matt Kenseth has six straight top-10 finishes, and has scored more points than any other driver in that span.
Clint Bowyer, who currently sits ninth in the standings, has led just six laps all year. This is fewer than Sam Hornish, Jr. and his boss Michael Waltrip, both of whom have run just one race in 2012.
Juan Pablo Montoya finished 8th on Sunday, matching his season best from Bristol. Those have been his lone top-10 efforts in 2012.
Earnahrdt started the day in 17th position, the furthest back any race winner has qualified this year. The previous worst had been 13th, on two occasions – Denny Hamlin at Phoenix and Brad Keselowski at Talladega.
Earnhardt’s 19th career win moves him into a tie for 36th all time, joining past legends Davey Allison, Buddy Baker, Fonty Flock along with current drivers Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards.
The finishing position for Denny Hamlin, who had won the last two spring races at Michigan.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. led 95 laps en route to his Michigan victory, the most laps he has led since the spring race at Martinsville, when he paced the field for 146 circuits.
The qualifying speed for pole sitter Marcos Ambrose, his first career pole. This was the first time outside of Daytona and Talladega where qualifying hit over 200 mph.
The winless drought is over, and Earnhardt should be grateful MIS is on the schedule. It has been 219 races since he has won at any other venue, when he won Richmond in the spring of 2006.
The combined number of races Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and crew chief Steve Letarte had gone without a win prior to Sunday. In addition to Earnhardt’s 143 race winless streak, Letarte had gone 115 races without a victory, his last coming with Jeff Gordon at Texas in the spring of 2009.
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