Skip to content

In Michigan, Hendrick quartet has a day to forget

Jun 16, 2013, 6:05 PM EDT

Quicken Loans 400 Getty Images

It’s not very often that the Hendrick Motorsports juggernaut collectively suffers like it did on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

Want proof? All four Hendrick drivers – championship leader Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon – ran into trouble in the Quicken Loans 400 and all finished outside the Top 25 as a result; Johnson in 28th, Earnhardt in 37th, Kahne in 38th, and Gordon in 39th.

The last time that happened: The 2005 Toyota Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma Raceway road course. In that race, Gordon was 33rd, Brian Vickers was 34th, Johnson was 36th, and Kyle Busch was 40th.

On Sunday, Gordon was the first of the Hendrick camp to have a problem. On just the fourth lap of the race, he was collected by a spinning Bobby Labonte in Turn 2 and was then funneled into the wall.

“He just did one of those slow spins where I couldn’t tell which direction he was going to go, so I had to guess and I guessed the wrong way,” said Gordon. “I didn’t really have anywhere to go.”

That left Kahne, Earnhardt and Johnson, and all three of them showed strong pace this afternoon. Kahne took the lead from Earnhardt on Lap 90 and promptly checked out until Lap 104, when his right front tire suddenly blew and sent him careening into the wall. He had been leading by 3.6 seconds prior to the accident.

“I just was going into the corner and then it [went] ‘boom’ and turned right went straight into the wall,” said Kahne, who fell out of the Top 10 in the Sprint Cup standings (although, with his win earlier this year at Bristol, he is currently in a wild-card slot). “It was a hard hit.”

Earnhardt took over the lead after that incident, pacing the field for 23 laps until he suddenly fell off the pace. Then on Lap 131, his engine let go in a cloud of smoke – shattering the hopes of Junior Nation, which hasn’t see their man win since his triumph last June at MIS.

“There was no warning at all, even after I think we lost a cylinder,” said Earnhardt. “The gauges all looked really good. [I] flipped all the switches I could flip and nothing was really making a difference. We just had something come apart in the motor.”

Finally, HMS’ rotten afternoon ended with Johnson clouting the wall with three laps remaining while trying to mount one last attack on eventual winner Greg Biffle. Like Kahne, he was victimized by a flat tire, and he was forced to go to pit road for service.

Johnson’s lead in the championship also took a hit, as a Top-10 result from Carl Edwards (eighth) enabled him to pull within 31 points of “Five-Time” as the series heads back to Sonoma this coming weekend.

It’s a likely assumption that the Hendrick camp doesn’t want a repeat of the dark day they had there in 2005 – or of what happened to them Sunday in the Irish Hills.

Latest Posts
  1. What to watch for: IndyCar at Barber (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra)

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    BarberW2W4 AP

    What to watch for ahead of Round 4 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

  2. MotoGP: Marquez fractures finger in dirt bike accident

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Marc Marquez AP

    Marquez undergoes minor surgery on his left hand, and is in doubt for next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

  3. Michael Schumacher’s son Mick victorious on debut ADAC F4 weekend

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT

    ADAC Formula 4 Oschersleben - Race Day 2 Getty Images

    Mick wins the third and final race of the first ADAC F4 weekend of the year at Oschersleben in Germany.

  4. FIA delegates safe and accounted for after Nepal earthquake

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Formula E Championship In Buenos Aires - Jean Todt Press Conference Getty Images

    45 delegates from the FIA had been attending the first Asia-Pacific Sport Regional Congress in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday.

  5. Power relieved, thankful to return to front row at Barber

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:11 PM EDT

    PowerBarber2 AP

    Second in qualifying a good day at the office for Will Power, as he’s in search of his first win of the year.

  6. Davey Hamilton to make driving comeback in next week’s IndyCar oval test

    Apr 25, 2015, 6:42 PM EDT

    DaveyKingdom Getty Images

    Davey Hamilton will have a one-off day back behind the wheel of a current day IndyCar, filling in for Townsend Bell at next week’s IndyCar open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  7. Indy Lights: Pigot follows up Barber pole with race one dominance

    Apr 25, 2015, 6:33 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Spencer Pigot dominates Indy Lights flag-to-flag in first race of weekend at Barber.

  8. WSR: Rowland wins Formula Renault 3.5 season-opener at Motorland Aragon

    Apr 25, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    © Renault Sport © Renault Sport

    A surprise in Spain for Rowland as on-track winner Meindert van Buuren is hit with a time penalty for jumping the start.

  9. WEC: Jarvis ready for close battle at Spa and Le Mans

    Apr 25, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Silverstone Getty Images

    Audi no. 8 driver pleased with the team’s pace at Silverstone and in the recent test at Paul Ricard.

  10. Power, Penske to the fore in second IndyCar practice at Barber

    Apr 25, 2015, 2:33 PM EDT

    PowerBarberP2 AP

    Power on top in second IndyCar practice at Barber.

  11. MotoGP: Pedrosa making positive steps in injury recovery

    Apr 25, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    MotoGP Qatar Getty Images

    Spanish rider was sidelined following the Qatar Grand Prix due to an arm pump injury.

  12. Sam Bird previews the Monaco ePrix circuit (VIDEO)

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    Formula E Championship In Buenos Aires - Cars Complete Shakedown Getty Images

    Preview the track that will host the next Formula E race on May 9.

  13. Dixon fastest in Barber opening practice in the Coca-Cola car

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT

    Dixon's car in pit lane, and with new signage. Photo: Tony DiZinno Dixon's car in pit lane, and with new signage. Photo: Tony DiZinno

    Scott Dixon takes the Coca-Cola car to the top of the first practice session at Barber.

  14. Villeneuve: Leaving Ferrari may have ended Alonso’s career

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Jacques Villeneuve Getty Images

    Former F1 world champion and Indy 500 winner hits out at Alonso’s move to McLaren and Manor’s inclusion on the grid.

  15. WATCH: IndyCar qualifying from Barber at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

    Qualifying for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ race at Barber has been moved up to 5 p.m. ET, and 4 p.m. CT and local time on NBCSN.

  16. Lewis Hamilton tops British sporting rich list

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain Getty Images

    Two-time F1 world champion named as the richest sportsman in Britain with a wealth of over $130m.

  17. Conor Daly confirmed for Indy 500 return, joins Schmidt Peterson

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:18 AM EDT

    Photo: SPM IndyCar Photo: SPM IndyCar

    Conor Daly has been confirmed in the Indianapolis 500 in SPM’s third car.

  18. Honda unveils new 2015 Accord safety car

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:11 PM EDT

    Photo: Honda Photo: Honda

    Honda takes the wraps off the new Accord safety car.