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. IndyCar issues manufacturer points penalites following Iowa race

    Jul 29, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    indycar logo2

    IndyCar penalizes Honda for five engines that did not “attain their life cycle.”

  2. It’s “never-say-die” for Graham Rahal with three races left

    Jul 29, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT

    California Speedway Getty Images

    Rahal is second in the points and takes his career best season to his home track of Mid-Ohio.

  3. Paralyzed driver Michael Johnson returning to track in Pro Mazda

    Jul 29, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT

    Photo: Pro Mazda Photo: Pro Mazda

    Johnson will make his first start of 2015 this weekend at Mid-Ohio.

  4. Simon Pagenaud ‘agonizingly close’ to wins at Mid-Ohio, not to success in 2015

    Jul 29, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    California Speedway Getty Images

    Simon Pagenaud looking for first top-fin finish since Detroit race one.

  5. Scott Dixon looking to add to record win total at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 29, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    In eight IndyCar races at Mid-Ohio, Scott Dixon has a record five wins.

  6. With three races left, who could still win in IndyCar, season 2015?

    Jul 29, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    WhoCouldWin Getty Images

    There’s still a good seven to 10 high-quality drivers without a win in IndyCar, 2015, who could add to the list of winners.

  7. Marcos Ambrose looks to salvage lost season in V8 Supercars, has had no issues ‘moving on’ from NASCAR

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    marcos ambrose 2015 Getty Images

    Even though it has been pretty much of a lost season for him in Australia’s V8 Supercars series, Marcos Ambrose believes he can still find some success before the racing year is over.

  8. Fast Facts: Honda Indy 200

    Jul 28, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Fast facts heading into this weekend’s Honda Indy 200, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.

  9. NHRA: Big changes coming to Pro Stock this weekend, next season

    Jul 28, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    pro stock bandimere 2015 getty Getty Images

    To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of NHRA’s Pro Stock class have been greatly exaggerated.

  10. Simon Pagenaud the moving man, in Penske Truck Rental truck at Brickyard (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT

    PagPenskeBY400 Getty Images

    Simon Pagenaud swaps firesuit for street clothes when driving the Penske Truck Rental truck, playing “mover” this weekend.

  11. Austin Cindric’s whirlwind 2015 takes him back to PWC at Mid-Ohio, now in a Lamborghini

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT

    Photo: IMSA Photo: IMSA

    The latest car for Austin Cindric is a Lamborghini at Mid-Ohio this weekend.

  12. Report: Alex Zanardi keen to make Indianapolis 500 debut

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT

    Indianapolis 500 Getty Images

    Zanardi still wants to race the Indy 500, if possible.

  13. Singapore announces track changes ahead of Grand Prix

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT

    SingaporeTrack Getty Images

    Singapore Grand Prix circuit to adjust Turns 11 to 13.

  14. INDYCAR, IMS add Sherwin-Williams as an official partner

    Jul 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Indy500start15 Getty Images

    Sherwin-Williams joins the Hulman Motorsports family as Official Paint and Finishing Partner.

  15. Ten with Townsend: Milwaukee and Iowa debrief

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT

    FullSizeRender-2

    We check in with NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell for latest “Ten with Townsend” insights, post the Iowa race and heading into Mid-Ohio.

  16. Ricciardo’s first podium in ages comes, like Bourdais’ at Toronto, with a trophy drop

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT

    RIChunpodium Getty Images

    Good news, Ricciardo made the podium. Bad news, his trophy didn’t survive it.

  17. INDYCAR rescinds minor penalty against Jakes issued at Iowa

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT

    JakesIowa Getty Images

    Jakes kept his visor down after all on a pit stop in Iowa.

  18. Gabby Chaves’ Honda/HPD Midget adventure (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT

    GabbyHeadshot Getty Images

    A quick look back at Chaves’ short track debut.