|When will Jimmie Johnson win at Michigan?|
It's quite a mystery how Johnson doesn't have one of his 68 career Sprint Cup wins at Michigan. Of all the tracks he's yet to win a race -- Watkins Glen, Chicago, Kentucky and Homestead -- he's had way more opportunities at Michigan, which has two events each season. In 24 career starts, he's had only four top-5 finishes and a pedestrian 16.8 average finish.
Michigan has been a definite thorn in Johnson's side. Even when he's had the best car on the track, which has happened multiple times, something always seems to plague him whether it's coming just short on fuel, a cut tire or someone getting in his way. On Michigan's sister 2-mile track in Fontana, Johnson has five wins in 20 starts.
Will this season be any different? We've got 12 seasons worth of data that says he won't win, but then again, we've got three weeks of recent data showing two wins and a sixth-place finish which indicates the No. 48 team has things figured out. They have plenty of horsepower which is the main ingredient to winning at Michigan.
Oddly enough, while Johnson doesn't have any wins at Michigan and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon hasn't won there since 2001, Dale Earnhardt Jr. experienced his only wins with HMS at Michigan prior to this season. From 2008 through 2013, Junior won only two races for HMS and both came at Michigan (2008, 2012). With his Pocono win last week, he is now one of four drivers to have two wins on the season and it's his first multi-win season since snagging six trophies in 2004. This week, Junior is 10-to-1 to win.
Jack Roush must be looking from afar at Johnson's struggles and wonder what the big deal is. His Roush Fenway Racing team has compiled a track record 13 wins at Michigan, which is considered his home track. In all eras since Roush has been involved in the Cup series, he has produced consistent winners with five different drivers. Even when his team appeared to be in a horsepower slump, his cars still performed well and found ways to be best around the track.
Greg Biffle (20-to-1) has been one of those drivers who gets well quickly at Michigan during sub-par seasons. In the past four seasons, Biffle has only three wins and two of those came at Michigan. Overall, he has 10 top-5 finishes in 22 starts, winning four times. He comes alive here, and even though 2014 hasn't gone as well as he would have liked (only two top-5s in 14 races), he should be expected to find speed with the Roush Michigan medicine.
Carl Edwards (15-to-1) has also been the beneficiary of Roush magic. His 8.3 average finish during his 19 starts is best among all active drivers. Michigan fans have been treated to two Edwards' back flips after winning in the spring of 2007 and fall of 2008.
With horsepower being the main focal point here, the Penske Racing duo of Joey Logano (8-to-1) and Brad Keselowski (8-to-1) have to be considered drivers to beat along with Harvick and Johnson. They've been strong on all the down force tracks and Logano won there last fall.
Of course, like Roush, Roger Penske has a special affinity for the place where manufacturer bragging rights is kind of a big deal. Penske liked the track so much, he bought it in 1972. Then you've got Keselowski, a native of Michigan who wants to win at home more than anything. Look for Roush and Penske to go toe-to-toe in this one for the win with the Ford executives grinning ear to ear.
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