Michigan Rear View Mirror
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on August 17, 2014 | 5:11 P.M. EST
Rick Hendrick congratulates Jeff Gordon in Victory Lane. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
BROOKLYN, Mich. - Any planning parties to celebrate Jeff Gordon’s retirement should be placed on indefinite hold.
Gordon showed there’s still plenty of life left in his career with yet another stirring performance and a victory in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan Int’l Speedway. The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion notched his third win of the season and solidified his place as a legitimate title contender.
He started the weekend with an incredible qualifying lap of 206.558 mph and really never slowed down until the checkered flag flew Sunday afternoon. After his emotional Brickyard 400 win last month, Gordon has continued to knock down solid performances culminating in Sunday’s Michigan triumph, a track where he last won in 2001.
Ironically, that was also the last year Gordon won the championship.
There very well could be another party in Gordon’s immediate future and it won’t be of the retirement variety.
- Sunday’s race was jam-packed with a variety of stories, drama and hard racing. A number of drivers were out of contention before the race barely got going. Kyle Busch smacked the wall early and was knocked from the impact player’s list in a hurry. He soon had company in his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who was one of several unlucky victims of a multi-car accident that also swept up Danica Patrick, Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex Jr. and others. Once things settled down and the fuel strategies played out, it came down to a wild restart between Gordon and Joey Logano that stretched into a number of exciting side-by-side laps for the lead before the 24 moved ahead for the win. Overall it was a pretty entertaining and compelling afternoon in the Irish Hills.
- Much has been made of Jimmie Johnson’s recent stretch of challenges, which continued Sunday when a handle broke from his gearshift in the first quarter of the race. But the diligent 48 team worked through the problem with a number of pit stops, repairs and teamwork and lo and behold Johnson wound up in the top-10 when the day ended. Johnson’s in the Chase and his finishes from here on out in the regular season don’t really matter. But don’t forget Sunday’s Michigan performance later on when the chips are on the line in the championship. It was quintessential Johnson and company.
- The Roush Fenway Racing team had hoped for a good day Sunday at what was the team’s stomping grounds back in the day. But the organization has fallen on such hard times of late a Michigan test was in order earlier this summer. There were some positives early in the weekend with speed in qualifying, but unfortunately race results weren’t overly encouraging. Greg Biffle was the best of the bunch with a tenth place finish while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came home 15th. However Carl Edwards, making his final Michigan start for the team before moving on to reportedly Joe Gibbs Racing, suffered a miserable day with handling issues and other problems that added up to a 23rd-place finish.
- Ten teams will stay over at Michigan for a Monday test as NASCAR looks to get a hold of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series rules package. There are a variety of combinations that will be run through during the test including aerodynamic packages, spoiler changes, softer tires, horsepower reduction and even an adjustable track bar that drivers can utilize. It promises to be the first of a series of tests planned in hopes of continuing the quest of improving the on track product.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.