Thursday, June 11, 2009

On to Michigan

Nascar's top series visits Michigan International Speedway this weekend for the LifeLock 400.  Few drivers will be riding higher going into this weekends race than Tony Stewart, who scored his first victory as a team owner last week at Pocono.

One driver who has to be hoping for a major turn around in his season has to be Denny Hamlin, who basically was out of the Pocono race before the oil got hot in the engines last week.  Another driver who wishes he could catch a break is Kevin Harvick.

Team Joe Gibbs has two drivers catching all the publicity, mostly in good ways, in the names of Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.  Busch, though continuing to be controversial for his antics on and off the track, has been winning.  Logano has showed a marked improvement over the last few weeks, and appears to be destined to get his first Cup series win before the year is over.  Denny Hamlin, on the other hand, seems to be cursed.

Richard Childress Racing seems to have problems of a different sort.  Though the RCR cars have run well at times, they've had relatively little to show for their efforts, both in the Cup series and the Nationwide series as well.  RCR cars, which have seemed so dominant in recent years in the Nationwide series, have yet to score a single victory in 2009.  In Cup, it's worse.  RCR seems to be falling behind the curve more and more as the season goes on.  It doesn't appear that it's equipment all the time, it just appears to be bad luck, or in other words, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Another driver who would very much like to turn his season around is of course the much maligned Dale Earnhardt Jr., who this week returns to the scene of his one and only points win in a Hendrick car.  Still trying new crew chief Lance McGrew on for size, Earnhardt Jr. feels the pressure to perform as he probably has never felt it before.  Changing crew chiefs is not likely to solve all the 88 team's problems, but it's a start, I suppose. 

Michigan could be an important turning point for several drivers in 2009.  Time is running out for the guys trying to make the Chase, and winning at Michigan could go a long way toward turning a lackluster season around.

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