Monday, June 16, 2008
Michigan win stops slide; Jr. could be first three-time PIR winner
The wait is over.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. overcame a near-empty fuel tank yesterday to win the Michigan 400, putting to an end his 76-race winless streak in the Sprint Cup Series that dated back to May 6, 2006, when he won at Richmond in the No. 8 Chevrolet.
The win for Earnhardt Jr. was his first points victory in the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet owned by Hendrick Motorsports, and came just over one full year after Earnhardt's announcement that he'd join the organization with seven Sprint Cup championships.
A late caution nearly put Earnhardt's victory hopes to bed for a 77th consecutive race as the Impala ran low on fuel, but the popular veteran was crafty with his final drops of gasoline, shutting the engine off at different points around the two-mile Michigan oval for conservation before the final green flag.
Earnhardt edged Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, and Brian Vickers. The win was the second of the year for Hendrick Motorsports - the first coming from Jimmie Johnson at PIR in the April 12 SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500™ - and the fourth for Chevrolet.
"I missed the joy, and I missed winning," Earnhardt said. "My fans are happy and I'm happy for them. The other half are going to tear this apart on how we won this race, but I got the trophy and I got the points and I got to see my team and my family tonight happy as they have been in a long time. This win is pretty special to me."
With the first-win burden now off of Earnhardt's back, he can turn his focus to qualifying for the Chase - a near certainty now that he's in third place and only 84 points behind series leader Kyle Busch - and winning races in the 10-race playoff to move toward his first Sprint Cup Series championship.
PIR could be the place for another huge Dale Jr. celebration this November, as the Sprint Cup Series moves to the Valley of the Sun for the Semi-Final Showdown in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the Checker Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil.
Sunday, November 9 is the date, and you won't want to miss the roar of 43 cars racing around PIR with a championship on the line for 12 lucky Chase contenders. With Sprint Cup wins in 2003 and 2004 at Phoenix, Earnhardt could become the first driver in PIR history to win a third, and you can be there to see it happen.
Tickets for the November NASCAR event weekend at PIR can be purchased online at www.racetickets.com
, or over the phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223)
. Be a part of it all at PIR!