You don’t have to ask Junior to find out that he is ready to have the “monkey” off his back, but that is exactly the case as he is hoping to score his first win in over two and a half years.
The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season started off with a bang for Junior (winning the Daytona 500 pole), but much had to do with the crew chief change, team owner Rick Hendrick, made over the off-season. But what has happened since?
During the first 14 races, Junior racked up four Top-5′s and eight Top-10′s, where he was actively positioned third/forth in points. Since then, things have not gone Junior’s way: Michigan- P21, Sonoma- P41, Daytona-P19, Kentucky- P30, New Hampshire- P15, Indianapolis- P16, and Watkins Glen- P15. The second Pocono race proved to be somewhat beneficial to the Kannapolis, NC native, as he finished P9 in the effort.
Currently sitting ninth in points, Junior would be in a perfect spot to get a win at the track where his last win came from. But does he have the car to beat?
Junior will start eighth in Sunday’s running of the “Pure Michigan 400″ at Michigan International Speedway, in a great qualifying effort that shouldn’t be overlooked. Just like Matt Kenseth, Junior is not “great” at a qualifier, but usually when he is, you better watch out!
Having said all of that, in order to win Michigan you must exert both endurance and strength, with just a little motivation thrown in there. What other driver wants this as bad as Junior, maybe Biffle? Even though both drivers have different reasons why they really want this win, both will give it everything they can to accomplish that goal.
Junior knows if he wants to win Sunday, he must also beat the Ford’s, which is a task that might be easier said than done. So to “Junior Nation”, just hang tough, it’s bound to happen sooner rather than later.