Tag Archives: Dale Earnhardt

Will Hendrick Continue or Roush Return to Form at Michigan?

To say that Roush Fenway Racing has made the Michigan International Speedway their playground in NASCAR is an understatement. Since 2002, a Roush driver has won nine races, one race every year from 2002 to 2008 plus a race in 2012 and 2013. They have more race wins at Michigan than any other Sprint Cup team.

Greg Biffle is the most recent Roush driver to lead the charge. Biffle leads all active drivers with four wins there. His most recent win goes back to this race in 2013. His statistics for Michigan are like Jimmie Johnson’s are at many of the other speedways. He has a driver rating of 107.1, an average finish of 10.9. His average running position of 8.9 is incredible.

In 2014 the Roush Fenway Racing Drivers of Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr had their worst showing ever in this race. Greg Biffle led the team with a finish of 20th followed by Edwards 23rd and Stenhouse 27th. No laps lead and equally painful qualifying positions. In the August race those same drivers did a little better. Biffle scrambled for a 10th place finish, Stenhouse 15th and Edwards 23rd again. In Roush Fenway Racing standards their showing at Michigan last year was dismal.

Meanwhile, Hendrick Motorsports drivers of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon took full advantage of the opportunity to win the races at Michigan. In fact all four of the Hendrick cars were in the top ten in June and three of the four in August; Jimmie Johnson 1st and 9th, Jeff Gordon 6th and 1st, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 7th and 5th and Kasey Kahne 5th and 16th.

This season Jimmie Johnson has won at three of the five 1.5 speedways but those he didn’t win he had issues leading to damage. Johnson finished 9th at Fontana, Michigan’s 2 mile sister speedway. Stewart Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick has also dominated the 1.5 mile speedways including coming in 2nd at Fontana. They are also a Hendrick associated team.

This weekend all eyes will be on Roush Fenway Racing at their home track. Greg Biffle has shown some improvement this season but overall the Roush teams are still struggling. This weekend will tell the story whether or not there has been any improvement. In the mean time it looks like the Hendrick teams have an edge to continue where they left off last season.

If you cannot get to Michigan International Speedway Sunday, June 14th 2015 for the Quicken Loans 400 it will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 starting at 1:00 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 304998 Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images

Statistics for Michigan International Speedway

Rank Car No. Driver Name Average Finish Driver Rating
1 16 Greg Biffle 10.9 107.1
2 48 Jimmie Johnson 15.3 102.5
3 20 Matt Kenseth 11.7 101.3
4 99 Carl Edwards 9.7 100.5
5 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 12.7 98
6 14 Tony Stewart 10.1 95.8
7 24 Jeff Gordon 15.4 93.6
8 22 Joey Logano 14.9 91.8
9 4 Kevin Harvick 11.5 90.2
10 41 Kurt Busch 21.3 89.9
11 2 Brad Keselowski 14.8 89
12 5 Kasey Kahne 17.1 89
13 18 Kyle Busch 18.9 88.3
14 11 Denny Hamlin 15.3 88.2
15 55 Brian Vickers 17 86.3
16 15 Clint Bowyer 14.6 82.5

 

NASCAR Changes Chase and Hits a Home Run

At the start of the 2014 season NASCAR changed the rules for qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The changes were supposed to make winning races more important. As much as that sounds silly when talking about racing, it isn’t so silly when talking about winning championships.

The past week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his crew chief Steve Letarte used pit strategy to almost win the race. They ran out of fuel on the last lap and finished second.

What may not be evident to many fans is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gave up a sure top ten finish in order to potentially win the race. This type of strategy would never happen without the new rules for qualifying for the Chase.

When asked if they would have tried that strategy Earnhardt, Jr. said, “Absolutely not.  I can say that without a doubt.

Earnhardt, Jr. further elaborated, “I think the way the new format is, nothing is perfect, right, but it definitely is showing it has tons of positives, and it’s better as far as entertainment for our sport.  Yeah, it gives us freedom, and it’s nice to have that freedom to do the things that we did today, even though we knew our odds weren’t good.  We really shouldn’t have made it, and we didn’t, but we got to try because of the new system.  So yeah, I think it’s pretty cool.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Team showed the other NASCAR teams the last few weeks how a little less conservative strategy can pay off on the track. This has only come about because NASCAR made changes that make winning a race more important than having a bad finish.

Its only three weeks into the season, imagine what will happen when all the crew chiefs eyes have been opened up to the potential gain of bailing on a sure decent finish for the potential of a win. A little swing for the fences attitude is just what NASCAR needed to add some excitement and it appears to already be working.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 295983 NASCAR Via Getty Images