It was a truly uncharacteristic week in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway. Something truly remarkable happened; the entire stable of Hendrick Motorsports failed to finish in even the top twenty of the Quicken Loans 400 on Sunday. Hendrick is unquestionably one of the best teams in the sport with some of the best equipment yet were unable to pull out a good day at all at this fast two-mile track.
The troubles for Hendrick on Sunday began early when, in the first 10 laps, oldest veteran of the driver stable Jeff Gordon got involved with the first wreck of the race with Bobby Labonte. Gordon’s 2013 season has been lacking in luck just like last year and the situation doesn’t seem to get any better. This finish led to Gordon dropping far out of reach of a wild card spot in the Chase without a victory to lean on.
Then when Kasey Kahne seemed to have a dominant car, he lost a tire that ended his good looking run before it truly began. The pattern of losing it while in contention at MIS for Hendrick only continued as the rest of the race went on.
One of the favorites for the race the sports most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., lost his engine while leading out far in front of the rest of the field. Another one of Hendrick’s greatest bets for the win was gone yet the best still remained…
Jimmie Johnson, the best driver in the Hendrick stable (some would argue the greatest driver in the sport at the moment), turned his car in and started heading towards the front leading a few laps before pit stops lead to him fighting back to the front where Greg Biffle was leading. It seemed like Johnson could have caught the Biff in the final laps but then he too suffered a blown tire that ended a good run putting him in 28th when the checkered flag flew over the field.
It was an uncharacteristic week for Hendrick and don’t expect it to happen again this season but this weekend the perfect storm seemed to come together to knock all of this talent out of the race.