Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first win in over two years could not have come at a better time for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. The sanctioning body desperately needed something positive to transpire for the sport after a week in which it found itself in the forefront of the national news — and not for anything race related on the track. Instead, they were being sued by a former employee, Mauricia Grant, a NASCAR Busch [Nationwide] Series official who alleges that she had been subjected to racial and sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination.
The Irish Hills of Michigan once again produced a fuel mileage finish that will have people buzzing for weeks. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s strategic win — one that came packaged with a little luck — was enough to move him up the rankings. But did he knock off rival Kyle Busch? We’ll tell you this much; for the first time in months, Busch is not alone atop the charts. Who were those surprises, and which Penske Racing driver is just barely receiving votes these days? Read on to see if you agree or disagree with the latest choices by the Frontstretch writers.
The long-awaited first Hendrick-Earnhardt victory finally came this week at Michigan, but it didn’t come without controversy. Winning on fuel mileage, the No. 88 team worked some pit strategy to make it to Victory Lane; however, Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers have criticized Dale Earnhardt Jr. and NASCAR for allowing the eventual winner to pass the pace car under caution. And Earnhardt wasn’t the only one who enjoyed success at the 2-mile oval; the Red Bull and Roush Fenway teams also had strong runs. Will this hot topic land all three teams on the HOT list this week? Check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup for the answer.
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a lot of reasons to win Sunday’s Lifelock 400 at Michigan International Speedway, not the least of which was the strong reader response to my being critical of Junior for lethargic television interviews in last week’s column. The results were varied, but most sided with Junior, saying that he does enough media appearances to suffice the wants and demands of the networks and that he deserves some lenience about his interviews, considering he does them after racing in extreme heat for several hours. I’m sure Junior read the column for inspiration, and that led him to Victory Lane on Sunday – I’m positive.
Patrick Carpentier’s last lap spin and the resultant caution sealed the win for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 bunch.
A reporter next to me then popped this gem: “Dale – how would you say you’re a different person last year than this year?” Dale Jr. looked over at him with an icy cold glare very reminiscent, if not a dead ringer, for his father. “Come on, man; how are you gonna ask me that?” He shook his head and continued to look down, saying, “I’m just really stressed out… this has been a tough year… but I have a job to do, and we just need to work harder and go do it.” That was pretty much the end of the interview.
2. Would You Like Fries With That? – Joe Gibbs Racing driver phenom Joey Logano, continuing to live up to high expectations set by the sports media and NASCAR insiders — such as respected veteran Mark Martin — set a new mark for the youngest driver, at 18 years and 21 days, to ever to win a Nationwide Series race. Logano, piloting the JGR No. 20 Toyota, crossed the finish line more than two seconds ahead of runner-up Scott Wimmer in the Meijer 300 at Kentucky. “Three starts, two poles, one win. He’s OK,” said a very pleased Dave Rogers, Logano’s crew chief. What were you doing at 18?
1 – Car that fell to the back of the field at the start of racing at Michigan.
(No. 15 Paul Menard for an engine change)
During Wind Tunnel on SPEED Channel Sunday night, another driver complained to Dave Despain that NASCAR needs to install better cooling systems in the Car of Tomorrow because of driver discomfort in the current model. But Despain responded in the same manner that I felt, stating that he does not think that improving the cooling system in NASCAR racecars should be a priority, because he has a little bit of trouble feeling sorry for men who get paid millions of dollars to drive them little more than a few times a week.