Quicken Loans 400: where they finishedJune 15, 2014 No Comments
By Mark Schafer
He seemed cursed, destined to never win at the two mile track in the Irish Hills of Michigan. A few times he ran out of fuel while leading, he’s had tires go down with ten to go, cautions flying at inopportune times.
However, on Sunday Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson finally had all the pieces of the puzzle come together and Johnson recorded his first career win at Michigan International Speedway.
It was accomplished with pit strategy towards the end. He pitted from the lead with 30 laps to go and patiently waited for the field to cycle back to him. From there Johnson cruised to the win. Although Johnson didn’t have the fastest car all day he was able to take the victory home.
Next week the Sprint Cup Series will take on the road course of Sonoma in northern California.
Find out how the rest of the field finished.
1. Jimmie Johnson– In addition to this being his first Michigan race win, the race was also his third win in four weeks, and Hendricks Motorsports fifth win in as many weeks. Johnson has surged onto the scene after many concerns on if he would be able to return to victory lane. Johnson led four times for 39 laps on the day.
2. Kevin Harvick– Harvick started the weekend with a fast car and ended the weekend much the same way. In the closing laps Harvick surged from fifth to second place, having the fastest of all 43 cars on track. Harvick led the most laps on the day, pacing the field for 63 of the 200 laps. However pit strategy found him one spot shy of his third victory of the season.
3. Brad Keselowski– Keselowski was in the top-ten for the entirety of the 400 mile race. Keselowski had the fastest Ford of all the Fords. However, pitting just two laps later than Johnson sealed the fate for Keselowski. He paced the field three times for four laps.
4. Paul Menard– Menard had a strong run inside the top ten all day long, as he improved on his position seemingly after every pit-stop. Although his car appeared to be set up more for the short runs as his car fell towards the back during the longer runs. Menard followed up his Saturday win with a Sunday top-five.
5. Kasey Kahne– Kahne’s sponsor Farmers Insurance is known for saving money on insurance and being aware of the surroundings. For Kahne he represented his sponsor well as he stretched his fuel run to the max over the closing laps. Although he fell from the top of the top-5 to the bottom it was still job accomplished for Kahne.
6. Jeff Gordon– The first 100 miles of the race belonged to Gordon as he dominated the race with his blistering fast car. However when his Hendrick teammates caught up to him, Gordon surrendered the lead and he was never able to get back to his early race pace. Gordon led twice for 36 laps.
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.– If the cautions would have flown a few laps later Earnhardt Jr. could have been celebrating his second straight win. Although he only led for one lap on the day, Junior was able to find his way in the top of the top-five for several laps in the closing stages. However with a long green flag run, Junior had to pit late and that shuffled him back in the top-10.
8. Kyle Larson– Larson was the talk of the race during most of the race. It started with a bad luck break in the opening stages when he spun. After making repairs Larson made his way back up through the race, minus his back bumper, which had some teams contemplating taking their own back bumper off. Larson led the field for two laps, but his team wasn’t able to find the right pit strategy to get him up to lead a third time.
9. Joey Logano– Last August’s race winner, Logano was able to prove that he had a fast car by getting up to the lead and running away with it in the second half of the lead. Logano held onto the point twice for 29 laps, but pit strategy doomed his top-5 finish.
10. Clint Bowyer– Bowyer had a steady run to the top of the race standings as he used a mixture of a fast car and an off-pitting strategy to work his way into the top-10. Like Logano, Bowyer had a fast car, but pit strategy was not on his side as he fell back to the mid 20s in the closing laps, and moved his way up again, when the cars in front of him peeled off to take fuel.
11. Tony Stewart– Stewart had a strong run in his car all day long. Several times during the race Stewart was able to drive his way into the top-5 and top-10. He fell late when his pit strategy called for him to stay out, but he charged his way back towards the top-10, coming up one position short.
12. Jamie McMurray– Like his Earnhardt-Ganassi teammate, McMurray had a strong race car, unlike Larson, McMurray didn’t have to worry about any spins or damage on his racecar. The finishing position of 12th does not reflect where he raced for most of the day. Twice McMurray was able to get get to the lead as he led the field for four laps.
13. Kurt Busch– Busch had a well performing day. Although his Stewart-Haas teammates were a little faster on the timesheets, Busch may have had the most to prove of the Stewart-Haas team. Busch also led the race, once for 16 laps, and it was later in the race after much of the race strategy had been dictated. However, Bush was in or around the top-ten most of the day.
14. Matt Kenseth– Most of the race was spent in lap-down territory for Kenseth. Early on in the race during the longest green-flag run at Michingan since it was repaved at the beginning of the decade Kenseth’s car was not handling to his liking and he suffered in track position. After getting the luck dog award Kenseth made the most of it, even leading the race for two laps, before pitting late.
15. Ryan Newman– Newman was the second fastest car for the Richard Childress bunch. He tried to follow in his teammate’s Menards path, however his car could not handle well enough to break the top-10. Newman was in danger of falling a lap down, but never fell to that fate.
16. Justin Allgaier– Allgaier had the second strongest run for all the rookies in today’s race. Although he never led, like some of the other rookies did, Allgaier was in the top-10 for much of the second half of the race. Most of the race Allgaier fought a loose car, but the team was able to make the right adjustments and Allgaier was sent up the chart. Pit Strategy dropped him back late.
17. Danica Patrick– Patrick’s team battled a car that was a little tight, and also a bit free in the corners. The handling of her car did not allow her to get up into the top spots where her teammates could be found. Patrick stayed on the lead lap and was able to crack the top-five late before succumbing to a late pit-stop.
18. Juan Pablo Montoya– Montoya made his first Sprint Cup Series start in the 2014 season, strapping into a stock car after leaving for his return to the Indy Car Series. Montoya was able to stay out of trouble and put together a solid day in what his historically been one of his strongest tracks.
19. Trevor Bayne– Bayne started and finished in the top-20 and put together a solid day for the Wood Brothers racing team. Bayne fought both a tight and loose car in the race, but his team made the right adjustments and helped provide Bayne with his top-20 finish.
20. Greg Biffle– It is almost unthinkable to find the first Roush-Fenway car (Bayne being an exception) so far back in the line up. The house that Jack built was not welcoming to him on Sunday as all three of his cars missed the set-up. Biffle was too loose early in the day, and had to rely on a lucky dog award to get on the lead lap. From there Biffle moved up and down through the top-20, before falling late.
21. Michael Annett– Annett had a very quiet, but very solid day in his Chevrolet. While other teams stuggled to keep the car free enough to drive, Annett was able to play around with the set-up to find speed in the corners. The set-up wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to send Annett to the top-25 where he finished, even if it was one lap down.
22. AJ Allmendinger– Allmendinger’s team struggled with the rigt set-up early on in the race, but they figured out what worked for him later on. However it was a case of too little too late for Allmendiger and the JTG Daughtry Chevrolet. They found the right set-up late in the race, but there was not enough time to get back on the lead lap.
23. Carl Edwards– Edwards’ day was just off. It was off for the entire Roush-Fenway racing team as Edwards started the highest of any of the drivers, but he fell outside the top-20 early on. By the time the race was 100 miles into it, Edwards was on the verge of going a lap down. He did later on and never climbed out of that hole.
24. Casey Mears– Mears had a quiet day on track as he and his team worked all day long to find the right set-up. In the end of the day the right set-up was never quite found, but Mears showed that his car could carry speed when he made several passes throughout the day. Mears passing game ended late and he crusied to a top-25 finish.
25. Marcos Ambrose-- Ambrose had a tricky car to deal with on Sunday. He reported that his car was tight and loose at the same time. The Richard Petty Motorsports team responded as much as they could, and Ambrose was even able to crack inside the top-20, but ultimately his day ended one lap off the lead lap.
26. David Gilliland– Gilliland faced a tough day on the track as the high temperature on the track did not allow for a lot of grip in the track. Gilliland called his car “wayy too loose” several times on the day and his Front Row Motorsports team worked to find the right set-up for Gilliland.
27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.– Like his teammate, Edwards, Stenhouse Jr. was a victim of not finding the right set-up in the race. His Ford was not fast enough to move through the field and Stenhouse spent almost the entire race in lap down territory. Adjustments on pit stops made the cars handling better, but nothing gave it more speed.
28. Cole Whitt– Whitt battled a tight Toyota on Sunday at Michigan. After getting his car driving a little better Whitt was able to drive a smart and consistent race to make his way into the top 30 where he would finish.
29. Denny Hamlin– Hamlin was in a spin late in the race which also involved Aric Almirola. Before the spin though, Hamlin had hardly cracked the top-20 as his team struggled to find the right set-up to help Hamlin make a push towards the front of the field.
30. Austin Dillon– Dillon was able to pace the field late in the race and it looked the strategy might pay off for a top-15 or top-10 finish. Dillon took the lead late in the race, and then came in to pit for tires and fuel. However Dillon ran over debris on the track and had to make a second stop, which plummeted him in the final standings.
31. Aric Almirola– Almirola had his top-20 day come to an end late in the race when he was invovled in a spin that dropped him back in the finishing order. Before the spin Almirola had been running in the top-20. After the spin Almirola seemed a little more cautious.
32. Reed Sorenson– Sorenson’s car was fast enough on the day to finish just three laps off the pace, as the leaders drove at a pretty fast race pace. Sorenson avoided the early wrecks, and kept his car in one piece for the entire race.
33. Josh Wise– Late in the race Wise flirted with the turn three wall when he got a little too lose during a long green flag run. The flirting didn’t last too long, but the loose condition of Wise’s car did.
34. Brett Moffitt– Making his second ever Sprint Cup series start, Moffit’s job was to record research for the Michael Waltrip Racing team. He may have recorded a little too much research when he spun late in the race. Despite the spin, Moffitt recovered and made his way back out onto the track.
35. Landon Cassill– Cassill made an apparence in the top-10 when he stayed out on the track during a pit stop. From there he slid back in the pack, and around the field. Radio communications from his team reveal that he had an extremely loose car for the entire day, and the team could not tighten his car up enough.
36. JJ Yeley– After the race Yeley tweeted that his car felt like Friday the 13, stating that his Chevrolet was loose for the entire day. The loose conditions combined with the slick track pushed Yeley back in the pack to his 36th place finish.
37. Martin Truex Jr.– Truex Jr. was caught up in the early incident that when Larson lost his back bumper. For Larson the spin helped him, for Truex Jr. his day was spent mired back in the field.
38. David Ragan– Ragan’s finish was hampered when he had a single car spin in turn two to bring out a caution flag. Ragan suffered no damage in the wreck, except for track position which wasn’t as easy to repair as a flat tire.
39. David Stremme– Fighting an extremely tough racecar to handle Stremme and team finished five laps off the pace. On one stop Stremme went down three full rounds on the chassis, but that still wasn’t enough to gain grip in the corners.
40. Alex Bowman– Bowman was able to have a strong run going in the day and then late in the race, he got slightly out of the racing groove going into turn two and he hit the wall. The team made repairs and Bowman did return to the track.
41. Kyle Busch– Busch’s day looked like it was going to be a banner day for the Joe Gibbs Toyota as he was up battling for position within the top-10. However that all changed after half-way when Busch had a hubcap break on a restart ending his competitive day.
42. Brian Vickers– Vickers day started and essentially finished on the opening laps of the race. Vickers spun and collected Travis Kvapil. Vickers team spent several laps behind the wall where they finally were able to run laps until the finish.
43. Travis Kvapil-- A tough start turned into a long day for Kvapil’s team. After being caught up in an early wreck made Kvapil’s team have to make repairs to his Ford. After 23 laps though the reapirs did not hold and Kvapil retired from the race.Tags: 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season, 2014 season, Hendrick Motorsports, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Michigan International Speedway, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Quicken Loans 400, Race Results, Where they finishedCoverage