The Inside Line: Wild day of racing at Michigan
By Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - From the green flag to the checkered flag, Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway was one heck of a show.
It had a little bit of everything. Jimmie Johnson's shot at his first Michigan victory went up in smoke with a handful of laps remaining. Jeff Gordon was unhappy with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. before Gordon's engine went sour at the halfway point. Mark Martin's freak accident on pit road in the early going made for a scary moment. And in the end, Greg Biffle held off Brad Keselowski in a green-white-checkered finish to win there for the third time and give Jack Roush his record 12th car owner victory at this two-mile racetrack.
Michigan is one of five tracks on the current Sprint Cup schedule where Johnson has yet to win. It looked as though Johnson would erase Michigan from that list had it not been for a blown engine with less than 10 laps remaining.
Engine woes plagued Hendrick Motorsports throughout the weekend at Michigan. Johnson's team had to make an engine change on Saturday, which forced the five-time series champion to start from the rear of the field.
Johnson passed Keselowski for the lead just before his motor expired. Biffle then moved ahead of Keselowski for second before he made his way to the front of the field for good.
"Today was a tough one. We blew up and I'm disappointed, not much else to say," Johnson posted on his Twitter account shortly after the race concluded.
Johnson did not speak with the media after his disappointing 27th-place finish. He came to Michigan with the points lead but fell to fourth in the standings. Johnson is now 28 points behind new leader and race winner Biffle.
"I was always taught if u don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all," Johnson later tweeted.
Tony Stewart, who utilizes engines from Hendrick, had engine failure as well. Stewart's motor was the first to quit, happening a quarter of the way into the race.
Gordon's engine issue was just a part of his bothersome day. Following a restart on lap 74, Earnhardt Jr. made a bold move on Gordon for position and nearly took out his teammate when he drove up in front of him.
That led to Gordon having a tirade.
"Tell the (expletive) 88 he can thank me later for not wrecking him; That was (expletive) stupid," an angry Gordon said over his team radio after the incident occurred.
Earnhardt Jr. wasn't sure what he did wrong.
"What is Jeff' problem now?" Earnhardt Jr. radioed back to crew chief Steve Letarte when he learned of Gordon's displeasure. "Does he got a problem with me? He was going slower than I was."
Earnhardt Jr. wrecked his primary car during Saturday's final practice and switched to a backup car. He joined Johnson at the back of the field for the start of the race. Earnhardt Jr. went on the finish fourth.
Gordon placed 28th.
"(Earnhardt Jr.) took me four-wide, and that wasn't that big of a deal, but then he slid up in front of me off of turn two, and I had to check up or I would have wrecked all of us," Gordon said. "I just didn't think that it was the smartest thing to do, especially as teammates. But he chose to do it, and that's fine. It all worked out."
While engines blew and tempers flared, Martin walked away unscathed from an accident that could have resulted in catastrophe. Martin started on the pole and led 54 laps before his incident on lap 64. He was collected in an wreck involving Bobby Labonte, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kasey Kahne. His car slid on pit road before it slammed driver-side into the end of a wall, creating a small fire underneath the car. No one else in the pit area was injured.
"That was a pretty freak angle that I got at that," Martin said. "I'm not sure what you could do. It could have been really bad if I would have got in that hole a little deeper where it caught me in the door instead of in the crush area back there. It's hard to keep up with what exactly is going to be happening there."
If you think Michigan had its share of drama, wait until Saturday night's race at Bristol Motor Speedway, where there should be plenty of action on the track's new surface.
08/20 15:03:34 ET