While the luck of the Irish hills was bestowed on the driver who made his way to Victory Lane for the first time ever in Michigan, here is what was surprising and not so surprising in the 46th annual Quicken Loans 400.
Surprising: While Kevin Harvick was certainly fast, coming in second in the race after a blistering pole run, he was even more than freakishly fast in the media center after the event.
Harvick, who was clearly unhappy with his race finish, had just one comment and was asked just one question during his media availability, which went like this:
“I mean, the car was fast, just wound up on the wrong side of all the strategy,” Harvick said. “We finished second, and that’s it.”
QUESTION. “Kevin, six of the top eight were Hendrick engines. This is a pretty big track in terms of horsepower. How well positioned are the Hendricks right now?”
“I think it’s pretty obvious. Self-explanatory. Good question,” Harvick answered and then exited the media center.
Not Surprising: Race winner Jimmie Johnson scored a first, second, third, fifth and eighth all at once with his trip to Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway.
The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet checked MIS off his win list for the first time, moved up to second in the point standings thanks to his victory, scored his third win of the season solidifying his run for his seventh championship, and handed the fifth win in a row to boss Mr. Hendrick.
Johnson is also now eighth on the all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins list.
“Well, this is a great win for a lot of reasons,” Rick Hendrick, team owner, said. “One for here in Michigan for Chevrolet, and being a Chevrolet dealer and racing Chevrolets, this means a lot to win this race. It’s good to see Jimmie win after leading so many laps here and close the deal because we’ve run out of gas, broke motors, blown tires. I think I remember a couple times coming off of 4 and losing it. For him to be able to finish it off today, it was really good.”
“And again, to keep the streak going, get five, that’s great,” Hendrick continued. “This was a good race, and it just played out the way we needed it to play out. Everybody is really putting out a lot of effort right now, and it’s paying off.”
Surprising: Although Kyle Larson, behind the wheel of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet, spun early in the race, damaging the back end of his car, he was the envy of the field as that very damage gave him a bit of down force advantage that propelled him into an eighth place finish.
“You know, the rear bumper, yeah, I’ve never had that happen before, and it happened so early in the race that I don’t know how it would have handled had I had a rear bumper,” Larson said. “Either way I think we would have had a really good car because we were good in practice, but it probably did help a little bit.”
Larson was the highest finishing Rookie of the Year candidate yet again.
Not Surprising: Paul Menard proved that Michigan was a track on which he could run well, winning the Nationwide race on Saturday and finishing fourth in the Cup race on Sunday.
“Yeah, we had a really solid Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevy all weekend, from the time we unloaded,” Menard said. “I actually got to go to Victory Lane yesterday with my daughter and my dad was here today, so it was a good Father’s Day weekend for sure.”
“The car, like I said, was fast all weekend. We needed some clean air at the end and the guys got me out front with some pit strategy and good pit stops and we came home with a top 5,” Menard continued. “So it was pretty good.”
Surprising: There was more spinning in the Quicken Loans 400 than at the Olympic men’s figure skating championship. Spinners in the event included Brian Vickers, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, David Ragan, Alex Bowman, Brett Moffit, Aric Almirola, and Denny Hamlin just to name a few.
“It’s frustrating. I wish I knew — the car just came around going into (turn) three,” Brian Vickers said after spinning early in his No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota. “I was trying to back the corner up and was taking it easy and just got loose and it just came around from me.”
“I saved it all the way up to the wall and I thought I had it saved and ultimately it just came around and I lost it,” Vickers continued. “I didn’t have that experience all weekend. The car was just really loose getting into (turn) three and that was it.”
Not Surprising: Well, it was Michigan after all, so not surprisingly at least one driver deemed his day a ‘blue collar’ kind of day.
“Yeah, we just didn’t have the speed really all weekend to be a front runner in the sense of contending to win based on speed,” Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford for Team Penske, said after finishing third. “But the guys did a great job with execution. I thought we executed really well.”
“We had a lot of good restarts, pretty decent on pit road today,” Keselowski continued. “Solid strategy, just — I told somebody before, Joey Logano told us, we were talking before the race started, we needed a good blue collar day today, and that’s of what today was for us.”
“We kind of trudged through it and came away with another top three effort, which is good but not great.”
Surprising: Unlike most of his races recently, Kasey Kahne was actually able to battle back from adversity to finish top-five in his No. 5 Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet.
‘Yeah, it was tough,” Kahne said. “I was struggling for a while and then we got it and then we were on a good strategy there at the end. We were pretty competitive with the guys in front of us.”
“Yes, we really needed that, especially where we started getting in Larson’s wreck there at the start of the race,” Kahne continued. “We kind of got going from there. We made a lot of adjustments. It took about an hour and a half to get our car right with different adjustments and things.”
“It was a battle, it wasn’t easy today.”
Not Surprising: Two former Indy Car racers were just feeling ‘lucky’ in this week’s NASCAR race. Juan Pablo Montoya, making his NASCAR return, and Danica Patrick both partook in the ‘lucky dog’ experience, leading to a 17th place finish for Patrick and an 18th place finish for JPM.
“We started the race really, really loose and we were not really expecting that based on practice,” Montoya, behind the wheel of the No. 12 SKF Ford for Team Penske, said. “It’s hard because we went from practice to the race without really changing that much and it was awful. We were kind of catching up and we did a good job.”
“I got the lucky dog and we were getting better and then I think we went a little too far with the car at the end, but we’re learning and understanding a little more.”
“We were pretty good,” Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, said. “The guys did a good job on the adjustments, and it was fun to drive. The race seemed to go by quick.”
“We needed a little bit of track position, but it was a good day for us,” Patrick continued. “Thanks to GoDaddy and everyone on my team, we continue to get better.”
Surprising: At a track that they have owned in the past, Roush Fenway Racing had an incredibly bad day. RFR drivers Greg Biffle finished 20th, Carl Edwards 23rd and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 27th.
“That was a big struggle,” Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Fastenal Ford, said. “It was pretty tough but we worked hard and didn’t quit.”
“Fortunately we have a win to get us into the Chase, but we’ve just got to get better as a group,” Edwards continued. “That’s the way it is.”
Not Surprising: After another run of bad luck, suffering damage from a Lap 8 accident that led to a 37th place finish, there is no other driver that is looking forward to Sonoma more than Martin Truex Jr.
“When luck is not on your side, there’s not much you can do,” Truex, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, said. “I don’t know what to say right now.”
“We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s disheartening because we felt that we had a potential top-10 car but didn’t get a chance to show it. When you have an accident that early it sure makes for a long day.”
“I mean a very long day.”
Truex is, however, the defending champ of the California road course where the Sprint Cup Series will battle next. The Toyota – Save Mart 350 race will be run on Sunday, June 22nd at 3:00 PM ET.
“…“We were pretty good,” Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, said.”
Is this woman on drugs, or does she read her own PR pieces. She was a lap down for the longest run, and the only reason she finished on the lead lap was because two lap down cars ahead of her wrecked. If not for that, she would have finished 20th or so and at least one lap down. And her statement also shows how out of touch she is with reality. The point of the race is not to finish in 17th, but higher.