1000 victories. That is a pretty hefty number no matter what you are talking about. For Ford, Greg Biffle’s performance at Michigan allowed the manufacturer to hit the milestone, 64 years after Jim Roper was declared the winner at Charlotte in the first ever NASCAR event. For the Biff, it marked his first win of the season and the 19th of his career to leave him eighth in the standings.
The only guys who had something that might have challenged the Ford driver was the Chevy boys from Hendrick. Sadly for them, they each had rather less than stellar finishes. Jimmie Johnson was tracking Biffle down, until a tire went down and the challenger creased the fence with two to go. Johnson finished 17th. Dale Earnhardt Jr had a car to contend with, but he went from first to a bug smudge as his engine let loose. Junior was finished in 37th. Kasey Kahne had a car that could anywhere, but he went from the front to the wall when a tire let go. He wound up 38th. That left Jeff Gordon, but he got pinched into the fence when Bobby Labonte broke loose just six laps in. Gordon was to end his day 39th. It was one hell of a day for Mr. Hendrick.
We had folks do well. Jeff Burton had gone 12th, 11th, and 11th in recent weeks before coming home 10th last Sunday to be within 20 points of a Chase place. Austin Dillon took his fuzzy cheeks out there and brought grand-dad’s car home in 11th. Danica Patrick looked like crap early (okay, her performance, not her own perky self) yet finished 13th.
They dumped Labonte from his regular ride to see if A.J. Allmendinger could find some answers. How did Bobby respond? Well, Labonte wrecked early while driving for James Finch to end up dead last. Allmendinger was 19th to be the best among the 30-something entries; those usually found 30th or something beyond that. Expect Labonte back for Sonoma, while former open wheeler Allmendinger is not listed driving for anyone.
As expected, road course ringer Ron Fellows is back. Making their Cup debuts will be Puerto Rico’s Victor Gonzalez Jr and former Craftsman driver Paulie Harraka. Also on track will be former CART, Indianapolis 500, and Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve. 43 spots are open, just 43 cars are entered for this Sunday.
Rating Michigan – 8/10 – Dear Lord: It might be too much to ask for, but might we have an entire season broadcast by TNT? While we might tune in for the action, often we stay watching a race due to insightful and entertaining commentary. We might not miss much on the track, but we know we might miss something from the broadcast booth, thus we stay watching. Lord, I think those folks on ESPN are wonderful people, but I shudder to think what the Pocono and Michigan experiences will be like with them in August. Anyway, if you could perform a miracle here and keep Wally, Kyle, Adam, Larry and their track side colleagues on the air this summer and fall, I sure would appreciate it. Love, Ron. PS: I hope you had a great Fathers’ Day.
Next time out, they will be turning left…and right. Tony Stewart has won a pair at Sonoma and Jeff Gordon has done it five times, but the last time for them was back in 2005 and 2006. Since then, winners include such names as Montoya, Busch (both of ‘em), Kahne, Johnson, and Bowyer last year. You do not have to be a ringer there, just a great driver, like some guy named Earnhardt was back in 1995. Any one of those past winners entered could pull it off. Mark Martin won in 1997 but more often than not he also enjoys a Top Ten day in California. The boys and girl take to the track just north of the streets of San Francisco this Sunday. By the way, in case you were wondering, the last Ford winner there was Ricky Rudd, in 2002. Enjoy the week.