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Published on June 21st, 2011 | by Shannon Baxter

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Michigan Review: Hamlin Spoils Roush’s Dominating Day

From beginning to end, the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 looked like it was going to be a Roush Fenway Racing domination.  Unfortunately for them, Denny Hamlin was ready to get the monkey off his back.

RFR always runs well at Michigan International Speedway.  Being a Ford team, they want to put on a good show for the automaker in its hometown.

Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth were all contenders for the win.  Biffle led the most laps of the day, with 69 laps spent in the lead.  Edwards managed to expand his points lead by 20 over second-place driver Kevin Harvick.

Biffle is now 13 points out of 12th place in the Sprint Cup Series championship standings, and a coveted Chase berth.  The entire Roush camp finished in the top 20, with Kenseth finishing in the runner-up position.

Still, Hamlin was able to hold off Kenseth for his first Sprint Cup victory of the season, spoiling Roush’s dominating day.

Penske Racing

Penske Racing did not have the day they were hoping for.  Brad Keselowski, coming off his win at Kansas Speedway, hoped to put on a good show for his hometown crowd.  During the race he scraped the outside wall and blew a right front tire on lap 84.

Kurt Busch, who scored his third consective pole this week, expected more from this race.   “You need a good race car, solid pit stops and good changes to keep up with the track, and we were just too inconsistent today,” he said.

Consistency is exactly what a team needs in order to secure a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  Busch brought his Pennzoil Dodge home in 11th place.

Vickers Runs Well

Brian Vickers was able to shake the black cloud that has been following him around for weeks. Vickers had an awesome qualifying run, putting his Red Bull Racing Toyota in fourth place. The team had flawless pit stops and gained him track position.  He ran well all day and finished 10th.  I hope this luck continues for him and his team.  I think Vickers is an underestimated driver, and he deserves to run well every week.

Dale Earnhardt Jr Initially Unhappy With Teammate Mark Martin

Fuel mileage races have been Dale Earnhardt Jr’s best races this year.  Steve Letarte made a pit call today that could possibly have put Earnhardt up front at the end of the race.  Unfortunately, with nine laps to go, Earnhardt got pinched into the wall by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin.  This caused a cut tire that sent Earnhardt into the wall, bringing out a caution.  Earnhardt was less than pleased about the incident.  “I don’t like putting up with carelessness,” he said.  “I try really hard not to be careless and that really pissed me off what happened out there”.

After the race Martin went toEarnhardt’s hauler to try to clear the air.  Earnhardt later said, “I was just pissed off at the end of the race – just mad.  Cause I want to finish where I’m supposed to finish, and that didn’t happen today, so I was real PO’d about it.  But Mark come gave me a good explanation.  I believe it, and that’s the end of it.”  Earnhardt finished the race in 21st position.  He still remains third in the points standings, 27 points behind the leader.

Johnson Has A Tough Day

It’s not very often that you see five-time champion Jimmie Johnson finish off of the lead lap in a race.  Trouble started early for Johnson. On lap 8, he got loose and spun coming off of Turn 2.  He had three flat tires and a broken front sway-bar from the incident.  Johnson finished 27th, one lap down. He fell from second in points to fifth,  29 behind Carl Edwards.

This race was all about teamwork for Denny Hamlin.  If he pit crew didn’t get him off pit road first on the final caution, he probably wouldn’t have won the race.

Next week we we are in Sonoma.  One of the biggest wild card races of the year.  Bring on the right turns!

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