|Photo – Hendrick Motorsports|
Dale Jr and The Dew Crew Rises in a sentimental win at Michigan on Father’s Day.
Marking the four-year anniversary of his last win at Michigan International Speedway – June 15, 2008 – Dale Jr. and the Dew Crew rose through the field, bringing fans to their feet as he finished first on Sunday, June 17, 2012.
Driving the Dark Knight Rises, Batman-themed No. 88, Earnhardt’s win breaks the 143 race win-less streak as his second win for team owner Rick Hendrick and his 19th career win in the Sprint Cup series.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Earnhardt said. “The last 15 laps were the longest laps ever. It’s great to do it for my fans. They stuck behind me for all these years. I know exactly what they’ve been thinking about and how long they’ve wanted to get back to Victory Lane. This is for them. Thanks to them for their support.”
After a two-hour rain delay, Dale Jr led the most laps – 95 of 200 – and was followed by Stewart to the finished line. The remaining top-ten drivers were, points leader, Matt Kenseth in third, Greg Biffle, fourth, teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon finishing fifth and sixth respectively, followed by Clint Bowyer in seventh, Juan Pablo Montoya in eighth, pole-sitter Marcos Ambrose ninth and Kevin Harvick tenth. The remaining race results and point standings from Jayski’s tell the rest of the race story at Michigan International Speedway for the day.
Teammate Kasey Kahne started out well from the second row, but was dealing with a loose race car for a good part of the race. Later he was caught up in a multi-car wreck when Joey Logano got loose on the backstretch and both cars had enough damage sending them to the garage for repairs. Kahne later returned to the track with around 40 laps remaining in the race and finished a disappointing 33rd-place. Logano finished the race in the 35th-position.
Although Rick Hendrick watched the race from home, he expressed his confidence in Dale Jr and the Dew crew in a post-race interview.
“Dale is just – he’s just switched on,” Hendrick said about Earnhardt. “He’s got the confidence, Stevie has got the touch and every week they’re the best by far. I think he’s sitting in the cat bird seat to win his first championship.”
And so with Earnhardt’s win-less streak broken, more questions come to the surface. Is this Dale Jr’s first of perhaps more wins toward a championship? Will the Dew Crew continue to Rise?