Tag Archives: Hendrick Motorsports

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

 

Kurt Busch Takes Done to a New Level at Martinsville Speedway

Kurt Busch started the STP 500 from a disappointing 22nd starting point at Martinsville Speedway. He battled all day to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race in 83 races. He now has one win and is eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Battled is an understatement. He started deep in the field and at one point hit Brad Keselowski on Pit Road when several cars checked up entering their pit. Brad Keselowski came back on the track to execute payback or at the very least antagonize Kurt. Kurt Busch or should we say the new Kurt Busch wanted nothing to do with it. As well he should.

Yeah, I can’t believe he overreacted and he’s as upset as he is.  The 5 car was trying to pull into his box, Brad ran into the back of him, I steered right to go around Brad and then he clobbers our left‑side door, and it’s like, okay, accidents happen on pit road.” Busch added, “It’s congested.  It’s not a place to race, because of all the pit crew guys down there and I didn’t think much of it, and then once we were back out running, he targeted us, he was aiming for us.  He tried to flatten all four of my tires.  That’s a no‑fly zone.  That’s a punk‑ass move and he will get what he gets back when I decide to give it back.

After his contact with Brad Keselowski on pit road his car was damaged and Busch told his team the car was done. He would not be able to win the race for them. But, Busch made it into the top ten by lap 175. It was only a matter of staying there.

Busch was nothing but appreciated of the whole Stewart Haas organization and his team. He couldn’t say enough about the opportunity they and Hendrick Motorsports have given him.

Busch said, “To deliver for Gene Haas this early, it shows the potential of this team.  I know Kevin Harvick won earlier this year at Phoenix, and I think our strength this year with the Haas Automation Chevy and most of Stewart‑Haas Racing has been at the short tracks. A win like today is a great step forward.  I don’t want it to camouflage any of the work, though, that we still have to do to make our car stronger and to be more competitive week in and week out, but don’t think that I’m not going to enjoy this for one moment.

Kurt Busch has now won a race and might be locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But he knows that he might not be. It might take more than one win and it certainly will take keeping up with the competition in order to actually win the Chase.

It’s going to fill up quick, and we have to do our job on this 41 team to develop as a team and to be a bona fide chase contender when the Chase starts.” Busch added, “So we’re not going to rest on this win.  We have a long way to go, though, to get up into that top 16 in points, and once we get there, let’s keep digging.  Consistency now is what we’ll focus on.  A win is a win.  If we get a second win, that’s when I would call ourselves locked in.  But we have this consistency battle that we have in front of us, and I’m up for this challenge, especially when you have all this weight lifted on your shoulders with a win so early.

It’s great seeing Kurt Busch have early success. It will be even better to see that success translate to more success. Just like cautions breed cautions, success breeds success. This is just the beginning for Kurt Busch and Stewart Haas Racing.

Kurt Busch gets to be the sixth new winner in the 2014 season to put the winner sticker on his car. Who will be next?

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

Feature Photo Credit: 296903 Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images