On any given Sunday Dale Earnhardt Jr. was due to end his winless streak, and end it he did during Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
He is to date the only driver to have completed every lap so far in the 2012 season, and has six top fives and twelve top ten finishes so far this year. It’s that kind of consistency that put Dale Earnhardt Jr. in victory lane on Sunday.
With 70 laps to go, junior’s car was hooked up and drove as if it were on rails. He was just flat-out fast on the restarts and was able to pull away from the pack on the high line.
With around 20 to go Tony Stewart was running second and said to his crew chief “Don’t worry, he ain’t going nowhere”. That statement proved to be wrong as Dale put a hurtin to the rest of the field with a five second lead on the second place car which was Stewart.
Dale crossed the finish line and all of Junior Nation rose to their feet in the grandstand to show support for Dale Earnhardt Jr.; It brought cheers and tears to many fans wearing green that day as their driver did a nice smokey burnout past the grandstand.
When he crossed the finish line in true Dale fashion, he radioed into crew chief Steve Letarte and said “I don’t know what to say”, Steve replied “You Really won it Dale!”.
On his way to victory lane he was meet win high fives and praise from his follow competitors, and also got on his cell phone to call team owner Rick Hendrick. Dale thanked him for standing by him and not giving up hope during the tough times. He was also greeted by president of NASCAR Mike Helton who congratulated Dale.
Dale’s win on Sunday wasn’t just a win, it was just a great “feel good moment” for NASCAR in which many fans banded together to celebrate with NASCAR’S most popular driver.
Photo Credit Hendrick Motorsports
If you caught this years Daytona 500, it seemed as though the race would never get started, and then it almost seemed as though the race would never end. Lucky for Dale Earnhardt Jr. (being the night owl that he is) the race went to 1:00 Tuesday morning. Matt Kenseth claimed the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway, Dale Jr. came in second, while “The Biff” finished in third.
Right out of the gate it seemed as if something was in the air at Daytona. Jimmie Johnson hit the outside wall on lap 2, taking with him Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick and also a couple of other drivers.
There were wrecks and crashes all night long, the biggest one came from Juan Pablo Montoya when he was trying to catch up to the field, while the track was under a caution. Montoya came out of the pits after complaining that there was something wrong with the car. As he made his way around the track something broke in the rear end and send the Target machine skidding sideways right into the tracks jet dryer truck which exploded on impact.
Both Juan and the driver of the track truck were ok, and evaluated. Juan was checked out and released from the medical center right away, while the truck driver was kept for observation and then released. Montoya’s car sat in the infield grass in a smoldering heap.
This week the Camping World Truck Series is off, the Nationwide Series will run on Saturday, and the NASCAR Sprint Sup Series will run on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.
Jimmie Johnson seems to be the fan favorite at Phoenix with 14 top tens and 4 wins, and Jeff Gordon also knows how to get the job done at Phoenix with 2 wins and 18 top tens. Both driver should be a great pick for you fantasy league. It will be interesting to see how Jimmie Johnson does this week with a new fill in crew chief for the short-term.
Last year Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 7th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series under his new crew chief Steve Letarte. The previous year he had finished the season in 21st place in the points standings under his old crew chief Lance McGrew.
Although he still hasn’t won a race since 2008, Dale Jr. and Steve Letarte made huge strides and really improved over the 2011 season. He could have easily shot Kevin Harvick up the hill at Martinsville to reclaim the lead and put an end to his winless streak, but Dale said he wanted to race him clean, and I’m sure Junior Nation can respect that.
Then there was the Coca-Cola 600 when Jimmie Johnson blew up, Dale Junior was coming to the checkers and ran out of gas! Kevin Harvick ultimately once again claimed a victory during that race.
Dale also hung out at the back of the pack under Chad Kanaus’s request in an effort to stay out of trouble for the race which ultimately worked against junior to the point where, when he got out of the car he said he was done sand bagging at these tracks.
I think in the 2012 season Dale will finally end his dry spell and claim the checkers more than once.
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