Junior wins, but there was plenty of news behind him, too

Updated: June 23, 2008, 3:15 PM ET

Russell LaBounty/Icon SMI

The air hose got caught on Greg Biffle's front fender on the final stop of his day at Michigan, killing any chance for a victory.

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- In case you're one of the two or three people on the NASCAR planet who isn't a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr., here's what you missed while he was ending a 76-race losing streak on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
  • Kasey Kahne, the hottest driver in the Sprint Cup series with two wins in the past three races prior to Sunday, finished second. Of course, Kahne barely was asked a question during his postrace interview even though he climbed two spots to seventh in the standings.
  • Matt Kenseth continued his surge up the standings, finishing third to move within 14 points of the 12th and final spot for the 10-race playoff that begins after 26 races. Since finishing 38th at Richmond to fall to 24th in the standings, the 2003 champion has rolled off five straight finishes of seventh or better to improve 10 spots.
  • Tony Stewart finished fifth and donated part of his $136,886 in earnings to the American Red Cross in his hometown of Columbus, Ind., to aid flood victims.

    "I'm happy we got a top-5 for everyone in Columbus and that we can do something to help our community out," said Stewart, who still lives in Columbus. "It's been on my mind all weekend. That's what this top-5 is for. It feels like a win."
  • Rookie Sam Hornish Jr. was having his best run of the season before getting caught up in the fuel mileage game and a late spinout. He was second to Jimmie Johnson much of the afternoon and had taken the lead before his final pit stop with 38 laps remaining. His 22nd-place finish isn't indicative of how well he ran.

    "It's a tough way to end the race," he said.
  • Greg Biffle was penalized -- again -- for a pit road infraction and finished 20th after running in the top 10 most of the day. "The tire changer got his air hose hung up, I think, and left it out on pit road and we ran over it," he said. "We did the same thing at Pocono, but we gained a bunch of positions by staying out on the track."

    Oh, Biffle was upset by the decision to pit late as well.

    "So we really made a double mistake," he said. "I should've stayed out. I saw those guys pitting. It's kind of a no-brainer for me."
  • Drivers learned you can drive around the apron of the track and pass the pace car -- at least a couple of times -- without being penalized. Earnhardt, in an attempt to conserve fuel, was accelerating hard, turning the engine off and coasting past the pace car in the closing laps.

    Some drivers complained that he should have been parked, which NASCAR finally threatened to do. Neither Kenseth nor Kahne knew it was allowed.

    "I thought it was confusing and I had to stay closed up, but obviously I would be trying to do the same thing," Kenseth said.

    And for certain the two or three people on the planet who aren't fans of NASCAR's most popular driver will point to that as the reason for the win.

    "Yeah, I can understand how it might look, especially if you're not a Dale Jr. fan," said Earnhardt, reminding there is no specific rule against what he did. "I know exactly what they are going to say Monday.

    "But hell with it. … My fans are happy and I'm happy for them. The half are going to tear this apart on how we won the race, but I got the trophy and I got the points and I got to see my team and my owner and my family tonight as happy as they have been in a long time."

-- David Newton

Nationwide Series: Logano reaches first goal in a hurry

SPARTA, Ky. -- Considering Joey Logano this coming Saturday will be driving the car that Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin took to victory lane at Milwaukee a year ago, is there really any need to ask what he plans to do for an encore?

Logano, who deserves several days to cherish his first Nationwide Series win after taking Saturday's Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway, has made it perfectly clear that he's not interested in anything less than victory. Granted that's the case for every driver, it's just not every driver who can take care of business in only three career starts.

Logano, though, isn't expected to be an average driver and it's clear that Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 20 Nationwide team isn't anywhere close to average as crew chief Dave Rogers has now won with Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Logano this season. It's an astonishing track record to be sure, even if a little "racing luck" was both a curse and a blessing to JGR on Saturday night.

Busch was clearly the star of the show once he arrived in Kentucky. Forced to the back of the field after Jeremy Clements impressively qualified JGR's No. 18 Toyota in the seventh spot, Busch took the green flag and began picking off spots in a hurry.

Busch was in the lead after just 40 laps and the first shock of the evening was when Logano took the lead a final time on lap 147. At first the thought was that something was wrong with Busch's car, and he'd later say the crew had loosened it up and he was waiting for it to come around.

So maybe Logano would at least hold on to the lead for a while before getting to battle his teammate for the first time. Instead, Busch spun by himself and trashed his Camry, ending his night after 163 laps.

That left it up to Logano and he never blinked. Having a superior car may make things easier, but a driver just 18 years and 21 days old still drove it as if he were a seasoned veteran, breezing across the line with runner-up Scott Wimmer 2.259 seconds back.

Logano was asked afterward if he's talked with teammate Busch, who is just 23, about dealing with the pressures that face a driver just starting out.

"It's something that I've gotten used to," Logano said. "Since I was 14 running ASA, I've always been under a microscope [hearing] 'You can't do this. You can't do that.'

"I'm kind of used to that pressure. That part is not really new to me. I'd feel weird if it wasn't like that. I've talked to [Kyle] a few times, but just racing things [like asking] who you can race with and things about the car. We don't talk about dealing with the media or anything."

And, after Kentucky, Logano doesn't have to ask about dealing with pressure while waiting to win for the first time.

-- Mark Ashenfelter

Craftsman Truck Series: Darnell, by inches, leads thrilling final lap at Michigan

Unlike much of the Craftsman Truck Series season to date, Saturday's race at Michigan was a clean and fairly tame affair for nearly the entire day. There were lead changes and three- and four-wide racing around Michigan International Speedway's generously wide 2-mile oval, but that has become a given in arguably NASCAR's best series for pure racing.

Instead, where was the drama? Where was the points leader faltering? Where was part-time driver and full-time antagonist Kyle Busch making his presence felt?

Try the final lap.

There may not be a better one this year than Lap 100 at Michigan, where seven trucks contributed to photo finishes and flared tempers. At the front were Erik Darnell and Johnny Benson, with Darnell's Roush Fenway Ford taking the win by inches over the Bill Davis Racing Toyota driven by Michigan native Benson. The .005-second margin was the second closest in series history, behind Butch Miller's .001-second win over Mike Skinner at Colorado in 1995. Darnell didn't know for sure he had won until the finish was reviewed by race officials.

Just behind them was a three-wide photo for show, with impressive BDR rookie Scott Speed edging fellow Toyota driver Todd Bodine and Circle Bar Racing Ford driver Brendan Gaughan.

On the other side of the oval, Ron Hornaday's sure top-10 finish and hold on the points lead spun away in a cloud of white smoke after a bump from Busch. Hornaday claimed it was retaliation for a clean pass earlier and didn't hesitate to run down Busch on foot afterward to air his anger. Hornaday's owner, Kevin Harvick, also jumped into the fray after seeing the defending champion fall from first to third in driver points (Benson became the fourth new points leader in as many weeks) and the No. 33 from first to second in owners' points, behind Busch.

"If he is going to race that way, that is pretty chicken. He doesn't deserve to be a racer. He has a lot of talent, but that is just flat stupid. If Billy Ballew needs a championship that bad for owners, he can drive that way, he has the right driver," Hornaday said after being separated from Busch. "I don't knock any other driver, but I will tell you what, that kid, has just about done wore me out. … He is just out there, I don't know what it is. I guess it is an ego trip and if he is going to wreck me every week, I guess we are going to have to do it back to him."

The subplots are continuing in the truck series, even if some chapters aren't written until the last lap.

-- John Schwarb


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Standings

Racing Resources Says …

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt

Sprint Cup

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Earnhardt scored his 18th career series victory in 306 career races. Earnhardt ended a 76-race winless streak. His last win was at Richmond in May 2006. He remained third in the points standings.
  • This was Hendrick Motorsports' second victory in 2008. It had 10 wins at this point one year ago.
  • Earnhardt started third. He is the 14th driver to win from a top-10 starting position in the 15 races in 2008. The only race in 2008 not won from a top-10 starting position was at Richmond when Clint Bowyer won from the 31st starting position. Earnhardt is the ninth different winner this season and scored his 11th top-10 finish in 2008. This was Earnhardt's first victory in 18 races at Michigan. He became the 30th different race winner in 78 races at Michigan. It marked his sixth top-10 finish in 18 races at Michigan.
  • Chevrolet scored its fourth victory in 15 races this season. Toyota has five victories while Ford and Dodge each have three.
  • Jimmie Johnson led the most laps, leading six times for 65 laps. Earnhardt led five times for 14 laps including the final eight.
  • Kasey Kahne (second) scored his third finish of first or second in the past four races. Kahne climbed from ninth to seventh in points.
  • Matt Kenseth (third) scored his fifth straight top-10 finish.
  • Brian Vickers (fourth) scored his second straight top-5 finish.
  • Tony Stewart (fifth) ended a streak of four straight poor finishes of 18th or worse.
  • Carl Edwards (seventh) scored his 11th top-10 finish in 2008. Edwards has scored top-10 finishes in his past six races, extending a streak that began at Richmond.
  • Kevin Harvick (12th) extended to 59 races the longest streak of running at the finish that began at Kansas in October 2006.
  • Jeff Burton (15th) is the only driver to score top-15 finishes in all 15 races this season.
  • Jeff Gordon (18th) ended a five-race streak of top-15 finishes.
  • Points leader Kyle Busch now leads second-place Jeff Burton by 32 points. Busch is the only driver to score nine top-5 finishes this season.
  • Sam Hornish Jr. (22nd) was the highest finishing rookie.
  • Dave Blaney (39th) has been running at the finish in 17 straight races at Michigan, the longest current streak.
  • 10 points separate 12th-place Clint Bowyer from 13th-place David Ragan as the Race to the Chase continues with 11 races remaining.
  • It was the fourth green-white-checkered finish this season.

Nationwide

Joey Logano

Logano

  • Joey Logano won the Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo at Kentucky Speedway. Logano posted his first Nationwide Series victory in only his third start. At 18 years, 21 days, Logano became the youngest driver to win a race in series history. He broke Casey Atwood's record of 18 years, 10 months, 26 days set in July 1999, when Atwood won at Milwaukee. Logano became the first driver in the series to score two poles and a win in his first three starts. Logano became the 18th different driver to score his first series victory in three or fewer career starts and became the third consecutive first-time winner at Kentucky Speedway. Logano became the second consecutive first-time winner in the series The last time there were first-time winners in consecutive races was last June when Stephen Leicht won at Kentucky and Aric Almirola won the following week at Milwaukee. Logano led five times for 76 laps.
  • Logano gave Joe Gibbs Racing its 10th win of the 2008 season and its eighth win in the past 10. Logano became the fourth different driver to win in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing car this season.
  • Toyota scored its 11th win of the 2008 season and its ninth in the past 10 races.
  • Logano became the eighth different race winner in eight series races at Kentucky Speedway.
  • Logano won the race from the pole, becoming only the second driver in the series to win from the pole at Kentucky. Carl Edwards was the first driver to do it in 2005.
  • Scott Wimmer, who finished second, posted his seventh consecutive top-12 finish. He scored his best finish since winning at Nashville in March. Wimmer posted his fourth consecutive top-5 finish at Kentucky in the NNS.
  • Mike Wallace, who finished third, scored his best finish of the 2008 season and third consecutive top-10.
  • Last week's winner, Brad Keselowski, finished fourth, scoring his eighth top-10 of the 2008 season and fourth consecutive top-seven finish.
  • Bryan Clauson, who finished fifth, scored his best career finish in his 16th career start.
  • Clint Bowyer, who finished ninth, posted his series-leading 13th top-10 finish in 2008.
  • David Stremme, who finished 12th, posted his eighth consecutive top-12 finish.
  • Clint Bowyer continues to lead the points standings by 170 points over second place. Keselowski moved from fifth to second in the points standings, only five points ahead of David Reutimann.
  • The race featured 14 lead changes among eight drivers. The race saw five caution flags for 25 laps. Sixteen cars finished on the lead lap.
  • Kyle Busch led the most laps, leading four times for 85 laps, but finished 30th after a late race accident. Busch posted his fifth DNF of the season and fell two spots in the points standings to fifth.
  • Bryan Clauson, who finished fifth, was the highest finishing rookie of the year contender.
  • Logano was the highest finishing Toyota. Wimmer was the highest finishing Chevrolet. Clauson was the highest finishing Dodge and Marcos Ambrose, in sixth, was the highest finishing Ford.

Craftsman Trucks

Eric Darnell

Darnell

  • Erik Darnell won the Cool City Customs 200 at Michigan International Speedway, scoring his second Truck series victory in his 61st career start. His last victory came at Kansas in April 2007. It marked his first top-10 finish at Michigan. Darnell became the seventh different race winner in nine races at Michigan. Darnell is the eighth different winner in 10 Truck series races this season.
  • Darnell crossed the finish line in a virtual dead heat with Johnny Benson, beating him by .005 seconds. The closest finish in NCTS history is .001 seconds at Colorado in 1995.
  • Owner Jack Roush scored his fourth series victory at Michigan International Speedway. Roush also won there one year ago with Travis Kvapil and in the first two seasons (1999 and 2000) with Greg Biffle.
  • Roush also has 10 Sprint Cup victories and three Nationwide wins at Michigan.
  • Ford scored its first victory in 2008. Chevrolet and Toyota each have four and Dodge has one.
  • Darnell won the race from the 11th-place starting position, the ninth race at Michigan won from the 11th or better starting position.
  • Johnny Benson (second) climbed from third to first in the points standings, 15 points ahead of second-place Todd Bodine. This is the first time Benson has led the series standings.
  • Scott Speed (third) was the highest finishing rookie of the year contender.
  • Pole winner Mike Skinner finished eighth.
  • The top 10 consisted of six Toyotas, three Fords and one Chevrolet. The highest finishing Dodge was Dennis Setzer, who finished 16th.
  • Jack Sprague (who started second) cut a tire on the initial start of the race after contact with pole-sitter Mike Skinner. Sprague never recovered because of several pit stops and finished 30th. He dropped from fifth to eighth in points.

-- Racing Resources