At one point during Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan, Hendrick Motorsports cars were running 1-2-3. No, they didn't finish in those positions. Not even close.
In fact, it turned into a bad day rarely seen around the Hendrick camp. How brutal was it? Well, it was the first time since Sonoma in 2005 that a Hendrick car didn't finish in the top 25.
Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were occupying those top three spots when Kahne suffered a right front tire failure on lap 104. The flat occurred as Kahne entered turn one and his car immediately shot to the right and towards the outside wall where his engine burst into flames upon impact.
Kahne immediately emerged from his car and walked away. He finished 38th.
Where was Jeff Gordon, you ask? We'll get to him in a moment.
After the ensuing pit stops under caution, Earnhardt Jr. took the lead and he held it until lap 128 when his engine started to go sour. Johnson passed him for the lead and then a short while later, Junior's engine went up in a cloud of white smoke. His day was done. He finished 37th.
Throughout most of the race, the worst breaks that Johnson was catching were on pit road, where a combination of slow stops and different tire strategies forced Johnson to dice through the field multiple times. He had one of the fastest cars on the track, as evidenced by his ability to work through the field. He just had to keep doing it.
After restarting 10th with 28 laps to go, Johnson worked his way (again) to second and started closing on Greg Biffle as the laps wound down. However, with two laps to go, much like Kahne earlier in the race, Johnson lost a right front tire in the middle of turns 1 and 2 and his car washed up and hit the wall. Johnson was able to limp it to pit road, but finished a lap down in 28th.
OK, now time for Gordon. The reason Gordon wasn't up with his Hendrick teammates near the mid-point of the race was because he didn't have the opportunity. On lap 6, Bobby Labonte spun off of turn 2 two cars ahead of Gordon.
Gordon had nowhere to go. As Labonte's car spun back towards the outside, Gordon was trapped and ran into Labonte and then the wall. Gordon was able to get back on track, but by that time he was already 107 laps down. He finished 39th.
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Hendrick Motorsports
- Kasey Kahne
- Jimmie Johnson
- Jeff Gordon