Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. cross the finish line in first place, breaking his dry spell of 143 races without a win. His last Sprint Cup victory was also in Michigan, almost four years ago to the day. With 25 laps of the 400-mile race to go, Earnhardt pulled away in his No. 88 Chevrolet and held the lead to cross the finish line ahead of Tony Stewart by 5.393 seconds.
Earnhardt’s 11 top-ten finishes this season put him second in the points standings as the race began, but there were mixed opinions as to whether he would take the checkered flag, particularly after a four-year break from that achievement. To say that loyal fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. were delighted with the win, would be an understatement, and the fact that he has a loyal fan-base was certainly not lost on the triumphant drive. In a post-race interview he noted that the victory was for his fans who had stuck behind him over the years, adding that he and his team wouldn’t have made it back to Victory Lane without their support.
With an average speed of 139.144 per hour, Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned 48 points for his Quickens Loans 400 Sprint Cup Series win. Tony Stewart (#14 Chevrolet) took second place, with Matt Kenseth (#17 Ford) in at third, followed by Gregg Biffle (#16 Ford) and Jimmie Johnson (#48 Chevrolet). The current top ten standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are:
1. Matt Kenseth – #17 Ford – 565 points
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – #88 Chevrolet – 561 points
3. Greg Biffle – #16 Ford – 548 points
4. Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet – 532 points
5. Denny Hamlin – #11 Toyota – 514 points
6. Kevin Harvick – #29 Chevrolet – 504 points
7. Martin Truex Jr. – #56 Toyota – 497
8. Tony Stewart – #14 Chevrolet – 491
9. Clint Bowyer – #15 Toyota – 481
10. Brad Keselowski – #2 Dodge – 458 points
The next 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup race will be the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 24 June at Sonoma, followed by the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky on June 30.
Matching the records held by Hall of Fame superstars Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, Jimmy Johnson took the checkered flag on Sunday in the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway, bringing his total wins on the track to seven. The five-time Sprint Cup champion led the field a total of 289 of the 400 laps on the track where he last won on 26 September 2010. Hendrick Motorports had plenty to celebrate with a four-race winning streak under their belts – Kasey Kahne’s victory in the Coca Cola 600 on Memorial Day, along with Johnson’s Southern 500 win at Darlington Raceway, and his non-points All Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. While saying that he had never thought of himself as “the guy who’d build up any cool stats”, Johnson is currently fifth in points and is considered to have a good chance of scoring a sixth Sprint Cup championship – although the championship driver was reported as saying that it was “way too early to talk championship”.
Some of the obstacles drivers had to overcome on Sunday included a thirteen car wreck coming out of turn two – better known as Calamity Corner. Last year’s champion Tony Stewart was caught up in the wreck, running into the back of Landon Cassill’s car. Following a red flag stop, Stewart rejoined the race, finishing 25th. Showing just how unpredictable racing can be, Stewart started the season well, but has had three bad finishes in his last four races, finishing 24th at Talladega, and 25th at Charlotte. Carl Edwards voiced his disappointment at having to leave the race after crashing on lap 165 due to a flat tire, saying that he was really frustrated that the day had been cut short and that he loved racing at Dover.
Finishing 2.550 seconds behind Johnson, Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing is enjoying a good season, and is considered to be one of the top contenders for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. No doubt he is hoping to claim the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship for his team, which last held the cup title with Dale Earnhardt’s victory in the 1994 championship. Third place in Sunday’s race was taken by Matt Kenseth, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr, and Joey Logano. With the 13th of 36 races complete, there is still plenty of action ahead for auto racing fans. The next race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series is the Pocono 400 on 10 June.
In the lead-up to the 160-lap, 400-mile Pocono 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race on Sunday at 1pm, racing fans can enjoy all the action of NASCAR and ARCA practice sessions and qualifying rounds on Friday, with the 80-lap, 200-mile Pocono 200 ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards taking place on Saturday at 1:30.
Date: 10 June 2012
Venue: Pocono Raceway
Eighteen-year-old racing phenomenon Joey Logano is about to take one of the biggest steps of his career – racing in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series in the No. 20 Home Depot Camry as part of the Joe Gibbs Racing team. Logano is already quite used to racing with people who are much older than he is and he is looking forward to the challenge.
In a way the move is the climax of a dream he had when he was just a child. In 1997, at just seven years of age when he was dominating Quarter Midget races, Logano said that his dream was to one day race regularly against Jeff Gordon who was his favorite driver at the time. That dream will officially become a reality as of 2009.
Logano has come a long way since his early childhood days of racing. By the time he was just eight years of age, he was competing against kids that were sixteen and up in Quarter Midget racing. When he was 9, he set a new record by becoming the youngest driver to compete in Legends Car racing. As if that wasn’t enough, Logano went on to race professionally against adults and driving full-size Late Models by the time he was twelve. Then, at fifteen, he won his second USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series. Shortly after that, Joe Gibbs Racing won the bidding war that allowed them to sign up the youngster with their team. They have since been grooming him for success and feel that he is now ready to tackle the Sprint Cup Series.
Since turning 18 in May earlier this year, Logano has been competing in NASCAR’s second tier Nationwide Series. The move has given him the perfect preparation to now join the Sprint Cup team. And the timing couldn’t be better: Tony Stewart in leaving Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season to become an owner/driver with Stewart-Haas Racing. The move provided an opening that Joey Logano will fill and the youngster is already looking forward to it. Commenting on the change, Logano said: “It’s a dream come true. I couldn’t really ask for anything better.” He also remarked that he was “cool with pressure” and felt that he could handle the increase in pressure that he was sure he would experience in his new role.
The ever-popular NASCAR Sprint Cup series will be a highlight on the schedule of events for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 to be held at the Infineon Raceway in Southern California from 20 to 22 June 2008. The action packed weekend will also feature rising racing stars in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, as well as plenty of entertainment at The Pulse of Infineon Raceway.
The gates at the Infineon Raceway will open at 6:00 am on Friday 20 June, with practice sessions and qualifiers taking place in rapid succession throughout the day. Starting off at 8:30 am the NASCAR Camping World Series West Practice will set the tone for the day. This event is followed by Legends Practice, NASCAR Camping World Series West Final Practice, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, NASCAR Camping World Series West Qualifier and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifier. Saturday will include practice sessions for Legends and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, with the exciting 64 lap NASCAR Camping World Series West Race beginning at 12:30 pm. The one-hour Legends Race is scheduled to begin at 3:00 pm and is the last race for the day.
By Sunday excitement will be at a fever pitch as the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race commences at 2:00 pm. Spectators are promised nail-biting action during the 110 lap race. When the action is all over and the winners have taken their positions on the victor’s podium, spectators are invited to join in the Track Walk, which will include a treasure hunt for great prizes.
Although attending a race such as the Toyota/Save Mart 350 is chiefly about the cars, it is also an opportunity to socialize with like-minded people. To boost the weekend’s party atmosphere, Infineon Raceway will be introducing The Pulse, hosted by popular Bay Area personality and KUFX 98.5 FM DJ Tim Jeffreys, for the first time at the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Spectators can look forward to enjoying live music by the Unauthorized Rolling Stones throughout the weekend. Saturday and Sunday will feature Grape Stomping Competitions and the Race-n-Rock Charity Auction, taking place on Sunday, promises to be a whole lot of fun, while at the same time benefiting Speedway Children’s Charities who sponsor the Sonoma County youth groups. The highest bidder at the auction gets to ride alongside one of NASCAR’s top drivers during pre-event ceremonies. A number of Track Talk sessions with renowned NASCAR drivers will reveal interesting facts about the world of auto racing.
There are certainly many good reasons for motor sport enthusiasts to get to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Infineon Raceway on 20-22 June – so make sure you don’t miss it!