Not again, Dale

Aug 12, 2008 6:57 PM

Finish Line by Micah Roberts | The last time the Sprint Cup series visited Michigan, the NASCAR Nation witnessed the most exciting finish of the 2008 season.

The drama from that June race was helped considerably by the fact the principle of the action flick was none other than Dale Earnhardt Jr. The build-up to the Hollywood ending was great, and even if I tried, I couldn’t attempt to write or sell the concept.

But here’s my sales pitch.

We have a "down on his luck" kid in the midst of a 76-week bad luck streak. As the new year starts, he moves from an orphanage run by the meanest woman in the South to the better pastures of being adopted by the wealthiest man in Metropolis. With his newfound wealth comes a brand new car. His old jalopy is left at the orphanage.

With all the expectations, the poor luck continues through the first quarter of the year. Then in one summer day, all his bad luck culminates into one gigantic lucky turnaround to the greatest degree of good luck. That’s how the Hollywood story goes.

However, not even they could make what happened at Michigan in June believable on film. How Junior was able to utilize the cautions without getting an extra lap and a green-white-checker and coasts without gassing, turning the power switch off and on several times was brilliant. Ending the 76-race on such a suspenseful twist made it the moment of the 2008 season.

Earnhardt’s victory also gave a major boost to a slacking manufacturer in its home state. Chevrolet hadn’t won in Michigan for 13 straight races despite having Cup champions like Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Tony Stewart driving its cars. Other than a Gordon win in ’98, the last Chevy win at Michigan prior to Gordon’s two came in ’95. The victory was in a young Joe Gibbs car driven by up and comer Bobby Labonte, who happened to sweep the ’95 season there.

Michigan has definitely been a Ford track for some reason. The correlation over that span points straight toward Jack Roush’s rise in the sport and is right in the middle of Robert Yates glory years. Roush is second all-time in Michigan wins with 10.

Even though it’s going against the trend of Ford dominance, we’re going to look for Chevy to pull off a sweep of the season. Look for Jimmie Johnson to get his first career victory there, followed by a whole lot of Fords.

The Roush Fords will all be near the front chasing Jimmie down. Look for a possible breakthrough win by David Ragan.

Ragan is definitely worth a shot if he can found from 30-1 to 50-1. For matchup players, it wouldn’t be in the best financial interest of your wallet to bet against Roush this weekend.


 • Kyle Busch’s eight victories have clinched the Chase’s "top seeding" and can become the first driver to clinch an overall berth by finishing 10th or better Sunday. With six mor wins this season, Busch will break the modern era record for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins of 13 held by Richard Petty (1975) and Jeff Gordon (1998).

• Positions 8-13 in the Chase are separated by a mere 107 points. At the bottom of that list is Clint Bowyer, only 22 behind Matt Kenseth.

 • Marcos Ambrose drove the Wood Brothers clunker from 43rd start position to third at Watkins Glen. He opened at 30-1 and closed at 11-1. At Michigan, he is 125-1.

Micah Roberts has been a race and sports director with Station Casinos, who has contributed weekly to GamingToday for the last 11 years.

Copyright 2008 GamingToday
1. #48 Jimmie Johnson 6-1 
2. #99 Carl Edwards 7-1 
3. #9 Kasey Kahne 8-1 
4. #17 Matt Kenseth 11-1 
5. #6 David Ragan 30-1


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