Monday, June 18, 2012 16:06
The racing world let out a collective sigh of relief when Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 flashed across the finish line in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday ... five seconds ahead of quasi teammate Tony Stewart. Ironically, Junior’s last win was at Michigan—four years and 143 races ago. The victory also trumped every other motorsports story of the weekend, including the epic 24 Hours of Le Mans.
While Junior’s Michigan fans roared in jubilation, the Twitter world exploded. Tweets from the likes of Brad Paisley, Mario Andretti, Ron Capps and Paul Tracy appeared. Jimmy Vasser had one of the best: “Pretty touching on Father’s Day, break out the moonshine.” Ryan Briscoe summed Junior’s win the best, writing: “America’s national nightmare is over.”
Another potential nightmare shaped up before the race even started. Michigan’s new track surface blistered the old track record—as well as the tires on most cars. Marcos Ambrose set a modern-era track record of 203.241, making it the third fastest of all time behind Cale Yarborough and Bill Elliott. NASCAR then stepped in with a new, harder compound tire to alleviate the potential safety problem. More...