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Pre-Race Notes and Quotes: Michigan

Hendrick Motorsports | Race Preview Published 6/12/2013
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EVENT: Quicken Loans 400
TRACK: Michigan International Speedway
LENGTH: 2-mile D-shaped oval
TV: TNT (Coverage begins at 12 p.m. ET)
RADIO: MRN (Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET)

News & Notes

MAN OF STEEL: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive a special black and steel-colored No. 88 National Guard “Man of Steel” Chevrolet SS this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Superman's values align with National Guard values. Both are citizens who put on their uniforms when their communities need them. Warner Brothers’ “Man of Steel” will be in theaters June 13. For more information, check out http://www.SoldierofSteel.com and learn how one American icon inspires another.

MICHIGAN WIN: Earnhardt is the defending winner of this weekend’s race at Michigan. The June 17, 2012, victory was his second win in a points-paying event for Hendrick Motorsports and his most recent win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Earnhardt started the race 17th and led 95 laps on his way to a 5.393 second lead over second-place.

TOP-10 FINISHES: Earnhardt earned his ninth top-10 finish of the 2013 Sprint Cup season after he crossed the line third last Sunday at Pocono Raceway. Earnhardt’s nine top-10 finishes tie him with teammate Jimmie Johnson for the most in the Cup Series. Earnhardt earned a career-best 21 top 10s in 2003 and 2004.

POINTS AFTER POCONO: After finishing third last week at Pocono Raceway, Earnhardt advances to fourth in the championship standings. He trails leader Johnson by 82 points.

AT MICHIGAN: In 27 Cup starts at Michigan, Earnhardt has recorded two wins, two pole positions, six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has completed 99.2 percent of all laps he's attempted (5,252 laps of 5,295 total) and led 293 laps.

MICHIGAN POLES: Earnhardt's two career pole positions at Michigan are tied for first as career-bests for the 38-year-old driver. He also has captured two career poles at Texas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway.

LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data, Earnhardt has the Cup Series’ fifth-best average running position (12.512) during the last 16 races at Michigan. In that same timeframe, Earnhardt has an 10.5 average finish, ranking him fourth overall among active drivers.

DRIVER RATING: Earnhardt ranks fifth in the driver rating category at Michigan with a score of 97.1. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 crew will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-716. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to a seventh-place finish at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in May. Notably, this is the same chassis Earnhardt drove to Victory Lane in Michigan last June.

HENDRICK AT MICHIGAN: In 58 races (186 starts) at Michigan, Hendrick Motorsports has six wins, 44 top-five finishes and 80 top-10s. Jeff Gordon ranks tied for first among active, full-time drivers with 18 top-five finishes, and he leads active, full-time drivers with five pole positions.

SEASON TO DATE: After 14 Cup races this season, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers rank inside the top 11 in the championship standings. Points leader Johnson is tied for first with a series-best three victories, and he also leads the Series with an 8.1 average finish, 6.5 average running position and 4,018 laps in the top 15. Earnhardt ranks fourth, while Kasey Kahne is eighth in the standings and has the other Hendrick Motorsports victory this season. Kahne also leads the Series with 476 fastest laps run. Gordon is ranked 11th in the standings.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard “Man of Steel” Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday at 10:45 a.m. local time in the media center at Michigan International Speedway.

Quotes

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (ON HIS APPROACH TO MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY.): “I think you approach it like any other race, but we are going in with a lot more confidence because we ran well there last year. But you’ve got to be patient. I looked through the notes from last year, and we didn’t unload perfect. We had to work to get it right. You don’t go in with confidence that you are going to go there and it will be perfect. You have the confidence to know that we will get it dialed in.”

Standings
After Camping World RV Sales 301
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Jeff Gordon 670 0
2 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 658 -12
3 +1 Brad Keselowski 634 -36
4 +1 Matt Kenseth 621 -49
5 -2 Jimmie Johnson 598 -72
6 +1 Carl Edwards 574 -96
7 +1 Ryan Newman 573 -97
8 +1 Kyle Busch 567 -103
9 -3 Joey Logano 551 -119
10 +2 Clint Bowyer 548 -122
11 -1 Paul Menard 541 -129
12 +2 Denny Hamlin 530 -140
Full Standings