Monday, June 10, 2013

2013 Michigan Quicken Loans 400 Storylines

The last Junior win came at Michigan last season
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ is three months and 12 races into the future but the jockeying has begun for the No. 1 seeding when the standings are reset for the post season.

Matt Kenseth held the advantage with three early victories. Now he’s got a companion in fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who recorded his third win of the year on Sunday at Pocono Raceway. Each win is worth three bonus points when the Chase begins in mid-September.

The scene now shifts to Michigan International Speedway, where Kenseth has won and Johnson has not. Johnson, however, has led the most laps at the two-mile track over the past eight seasons and finished second in 2011.

Both competitors probably should be looking in their mirrors at the progress of Tony Stewart, who has gone from outside the top 20 and Chase eligibility to 13th place in just three races. Stewart, holding a potential Chase Wild Card with his Dover victory, is 17 points out of the top 10.

Michigan’s Quicken Loans 400 celebrates the anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s dramatic victory that broke a four-year winless streak. Earnhardt finished third at Pocono, posting his first top five since late March.

Roush Fenway Racing this weekend visits its home turf where Greg Biffle gave the organization its record-breaking 12thNASCAR Sprint Cup victory last August.

Ford Motor Company goes into the weekend in pursuit of its 1,000th NASCAR national series victory. The automaker won for the 200th time in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition on Sunday at Iowa Speedway.

An Iowa victory – his second in the NASCAR Nationwide Series – was a late wedding gift for Trevor Bayne and new bride Ashton, who’d celebrated their vows earlier in the week.

Austin Dillon rides a record-matching three consecutive Coors Light Pole Awards into Michigan. Bayne, who passed Dillon for the Iowa victory, is one of six drivers who share the pole record.

Among NASCAR’s fathers and sons who’ll celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday are Ward and Jeb Burton. The younger Burton – with his Daytona 500-winning father on the spotter’s stand – won last weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck race at Texas Motor Speedway.


Johnson, Kenseth Battling For No. 1 Chase Seeding
The race for the No. 1 Chase seed definitely is on following Jimmie Johnson’s Pocono victory – the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion’s third of the season. Johnson, who stretched his standings lead to 51 points, and Matt Kenseth each have won three races. Each victory is worth three bonus points when the standings are reset following the Sept. 7 event at Richmond International Raceway.

‘Five-Time’ Winless But No Pushover At Michigan
Consider Michigan an "almost" for points leader Jimmie Johnson. The track is one of five on which the Californian has yet to win. Johnson’s best finish, a second, came in the track’s second event of 2011. He finished fifth last June and led August’s race with seven laps remaining before the No. 48 Chevrolet was sidelined by engine failure. Johnson has led the most laps – 484 for 15.4% of laps run – at Michigan over the past eight seasons.

Stewart’s Express Speeding Toward Top-10 Ranking
Tony Stewart’s dramatic rise in the standings is proof that points and positions lost under the current system aren’t gone forever. Finishes of first, fourth and seventh have boosted the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion from 21stto 13th in the standings. Stewart’s top-10 deficit – 62 points after Darlington – is just 17 markers entering Sunday’s Michigan event. Stewart’s only Michigan victory came in June 2000.

Michigan Marks Junior’s Landmark Victory
Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 marks the anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s dramatic victory that snapped a four-year winless streak. Junior was red-hot during the 2013 season’s early stages when he briefly was the NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader. He cooled off in April and May, failing to post a top-five finish, but appears ready to rebound. Earnhardt scored a solid, third-place finish on Sunday to stand fourth in the standings.

Roush Enjoys Home-Court Advantage In Michigan
Roush Industries is located just east of Michigan International Speedway so it’s probably not coincidence that Roush Fenway Racing’s drivers have exceled at the two-mile facility. RFR has won 22 times at its "home" track – tops in all three NASCAR national series – including a record 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup victories. Greg Biffle won for the third time at Michigan last August and finished second at Pocono on Sunday. Two-time Michigan winner Carl Edwards remains second in series points.

Ford Could Upstage Manufacturer Leader With Victory
Chevrolet leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Manufacturer Standings by 17 points over rival Toyota. The leader’s Chevrolet SS also has won the most races – seven – in the debut season for NASCAR’s Gen-6 car. Ford may be third in manufacturer points but could celebrate a significant milestone with a Michigan victory in either the NASCAR Sprint Cup or NASCAR Nationwide event this weekend. The automaker’s next win will be No. 1,000 by a Ford Motor Company product – Ford, Lincoln or Mercury – in NASCAR national series competition.

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