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Lap-by-Lap: Michigan

June 18, 2012, , NASCAR.com

Lap 200 -- CHECKERED FLAG: After his last win, also at Michigan, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said: "It's a special day for my family. ... And it makes me feel good. I know I can't tell my father 'Happy Father's Day,' but I get the opportunity to wish it upon all of the other fathers out there, and I genuinely mean that when I say it -- because that's what today is all about." Well said, even four years later. Happy Father's Day, everyone.

Lap 199 -- WHITE FLAG: One more.

Lap 197 -- He's all alone ... up to almost six seconds in front.

Lap 195 -- "Five more, buddy," says a voice over the radio...

Lap 194 -- It's a one-man race now. Can it happen?

Lap 191 -- If Dale Earnhardt Jr. stays strong, his finish will match the most top-10 finishes he had in ALL of 2011.

Lap 189 -- JuanMontoya and Marcos Ambrose looking to hold on to top-10 finishes. Good stuff, guys.

Lap 188 -- Junior REALLY wide open now, pushing lead over Tony Stewart to almost five full seconds...

Lap 186 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is looking at a near-2.5 second lead now...

Lap 185 -- The field cruising by a very dinged-up Kurt Busch.

Lap 183 -- Junior creeps lead near 2.0 seconds...

Lap 181 -- TNT commentators talking about the winless streak ... still 19 left.

Lap 180 -- Dale Jr. builds lead to 1.6 seconds...

Lap 177 -- Stewart-Biffle-Johnson-Kenseth round out the current top five.

Lap 174 -- Junior back up to first ... more than a one-second lead up in front.

Lap 169 -- Landon Cassill up to fifth place as green-flag pits sort spots out. Oh yeah, baby.

Lap 168 -- Kes does not pit, neither does Jeff Burton, and the Blue Deuce leads ... for now.

Lap 167 -- Jamie McMurray does the same as he heads to pit road for right-sides and fuel.

Lap 166 -- As Greg Biffle goes in, Clint Bowyer gives up his brief lead for a pit himself.

Lap 165 -- Greg Biffle stay out to lead during green-flag pits by a portion of the field.

Lap 158 -- Jimmie Johnson not giving up yet, coming from the back to start for a seventh-place run at the moment.

Lap 157 -- Jeff Gordon still in third, followed by Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer...

Lap 155 -- Tony Stewart tells crew over radio that he's not going anywhere. He closes in second place.

Lap 154 -- Dale Jr. has lead 55 laps today -- best of the race.

Lap 150 -- Junior leads the field with just a quarter left of racing at MIS ... what say you?

Lap 149 -- Carl Edwards is in the top 10 after a rough 40th start. Nice work.

Lap 147 -- Nice runs so far outside the top 10? Jamie McMurray in 13th, Regan Smith 14th, Casey Mears 20th and Austin Dillon 25th.

Lap 144 -- Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are charging hard in sixth and eighth, respectively.

Lap 142 -- Dale Jr. takes the lead again, but Tony Stewart moves into second with another strong restart. His secret: an extra nap, he tells his crew via radio. Life lesson.

Lap 141 -- GREEN FLAG: Here they go again to green after three cautions in the last 20 laps.

Lap 137 -- Junior-Gordon-Bowyer-Stewart-Biffle will restart in the top five.

Lap 136 -- Pretty sure Denny Hamlin's hat he wore in that TNT interview has HIS OWN autograph on the back ... that's either the coolest or dorkiest thing ever. Thoughts?

Lap 135 -- Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. get back in the swing of things under caution after just sandwiching Denny Hamlin.

Lap 134 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 8: Denny Hamlin just imploded like Lindsay Lohan's career, and even caught fire. His boys put him out, but now he's REALLY out.

Lap 133 -- Junior takes the lead after a three-wide green-flag run.

Lap 132 -- GREEN FLAG: Joey Logano took all the bad luck on the last restart, so Dale Jr. and Jeff Gordon will re-scuffle for the lead on this restart.

Lap 128 -- The lineup to restart will be Junior-Gordon-Montoya-Bowyer-Stewart.

Lap 127 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 7: CRUNCH. Mr. Momentum, Joey Logano, just ate some serious wall. He takes Kasey Kahne with him. The driver of the No. 20 will be taken away by ambulance -- just a precaution.

Lap 126 -- GREEN FLAG: Junior will battle Jeff Gordon for the lead. Bad luck stay away...

Lap 123 -- Mark Martin gets the free pass, while Juan Pablo Montoya finally pits under caution -- goodbye lead.

Lap 121 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 6: Kurt Busch takes issue with the track, spinning out for his second time for the day's sixth yellow.

Lap 120 -- Who's your padre! Juan Montoya leads.

Lap 118 -- Kevin Harvick gets a chassis adjustment in the pits ... Dale Jr. goes for four tires in his wake.

Lap 116 -- Following Kes, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman lead a big field into the pits.

Lap 115 -- Brad Keselowski grabs a green-flag pit stop for a "really loose" car. "This ain't right," he says. Ugh.

Lap 114 -- Ryan Newman, repping those US Army dads, has made up a whopping 37 spots (!) up to sixth place.

Lap 112 -- Junior and Smoke are WAY up front in one-two. Third and the rest may need a caution.

Lap 109 -- Got 'em. Junior is back atop the leaderboard.

Lap 106 -- BANG! POW! ZAP! Dale Jr.'s Batman car is back up closing in on leader Tony Stewart. Holy paint job, Junior! Ok. Now, I'm really stopping...

Lap 104 -- In case you were wondering, and you were, older bro Kurt Busch is still out there despite early spin ... in 32nd.

Lap 103 -- Candy-colored shirts are everywhere! It looks delicious, but Kyle Busch's car look like melted chocolate in that garage.

Lap 100 -- Halfway through, and it's Stewart-Junior-Bowyer(!)-Gordon-Biffle in the top five.

Lap 97 -- Tony Stewart is still in the lead, seven-tenths of a second in front of Junior.

Lap 92 -- Jeff Gordon pulls into fourth. Watch out for banana peels, third place and fifth!

Lap 89 -- Too bad for Trevor Bayne. He is way out, by the way, and missed a good chance after some real fast practices.

Lap 88 -- Boom. Just like that, Tony Stewart -- who is taking no prisoners -- makes the move for the lead after the restart.

Lap 87 -- GREEN FLAG: Junior was so far ahead of the field that he could have had a sandwich before coming off pit road in the first spot. A vegemite sandwich? Ask Marcos Ambrose, who is close behind him on the restart.

Lap 86 -- Remember those blistering tires? Kyle Busch knows about them now, as he's heading into the garage with a blown tire.

Lap 85 -- NASCAR clean-up crew picking up debris with their hands to help get this thing restarted.

Lap 83 -- Everybody comes in for yellow-flag pits...

Lap 82 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 5: Here comes a caution for debris. Looks like a ticker-tape parade for, well, no one yet.

Lap 80 -- Middle-of-the-pack cars are coming off for green-flag pits in droves.

Lap 79 -- Marcos Ambrose and Mark Martin aren't giving up yet, though, in two-three.

Lap 73 -- The No. 88 is FLYING. Like some sort of bat man. Get it? Enough Batman puns. Seriously.

Lap 72 -- Greg Biffle, dropping to third, says he can "barely hang on" to his loose car.

Lap 71 -- The Dark Knight Rises! Dale Jr. takes the lead.

Lap 70 -- Marcos Ambrose and Dale Jr. blow past Greg Biffle for one-two.

Lap 69 -- That Dark Knight Rises car is NASTY good. The blackout look is very, very familiar on an Earnhardt car...

Lap 64 -- Tweet this! Brad Keselowski has made his move into the top five.

Lap 62 -- Guess who is MOVING on this track? Dale Jr. is fourth best right now.

Lap 60 -- Uh oh ... it's Aussie-Aussie-Ambrose. Marcos is all up on Greg Biffle for the lead. Again.

Lap 59 -- Greg Biffle making himself some room up front now.

Lap 58 -- Matt Kenseth upset that he's fallen back down to seventh, and he's letting his crew know on the radio.

Lap 57 -- Hola, Juan Pablo! Pride of Colombia Montoya way up to sixth.

Lap 56 -- GREEN FLAG: Greg Biffle has the last laugh for now, grabbing his one-time lead back off of pit road and will restart as the leader.

Lap 52 -- The field is back into the pits.

Lap 51 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 4: The second competition caution.

Lap 49 -- Wow! Matt Kenseth and Marcos Ambrose split a lapped Ken Schrader like a coconut.

Lap 47 -- There's Junior at unlucky 13th. From the looks of it, he's getting luckier by the lap.

Lap 46 -- Team Penske: Brad Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger are up in the top 10.

Lap 45 -- Marcos Ambrose is cleaning out Matt Kenseth's trunk up front, trying for that lead.

Lap 44 -- Clint Bowyer and his "Love You Dad" bumper sticker are up to seventh place and on the rise.

Lap 43 -- Hey there, Greg! Biffle on the move, back up to fourth.

Lap 39 -- Mark Martin is bad fast right now, pushing a top speed of 191 mph. And now he's in third.

Lap 37 -- Matt Kenseth really opening up a cushion in the lead now.

Lap 36 -- Mark Martin ... what a guy. He's up to fourth behind his "buddy" Joey Logano. Uh oh?

Lap 35 -- On radio, Tony Stewart says he's "taking no prisoners" for the rest of the day. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.

Lap 34 -- Kyle Busch is up to seventh after that 34th-place start. Wow.

Lap 33 -- Matt Kenseth says "not so fast." It's his lead now.

Lap 32 -- Marcos Ambrose reclaims his lead.

Lap 31 -- GREEN FLAG: Matt Kenseth got off pit road first just before pole-winner Marcos Ambrose. Greg Biffle was not so lucky. He will restart seventh after leading before caution.

Lap 26 -- And everyone pits...

Lap 25 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 3: The first competition caution.

Lap 24 -- Marcos Ambrose's pal Aric Almirola puts two Petty cars in the top five.

Lap 23 -- Brad Keselowski up to 16th.

Lap 22 -- Thanks Joey! Matt Kenseth will have third place, please.

Lap 21 -- Joey Logano has been moving as well, going from his ninth-place start to third place.

Lap 20 -- Greg Biffle and Marcos Ambrose have cut away for the moment.

Lap 19 -- Kyle Busch has made up 20 spots already, and Ryan Newman has cruised up 27 slots. These boys are rolling.

Lap 18 -- Dale Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, two of the drivers to pit under the caution in the teens, looking quick.

Lap 17 -- Greg Biffle will be the one, going back to the lead.

Lap 16 -- GREEN FLAG: The duo of Greg Biffle and Marcos Ambrose are going to duel it out again up front -- here they go. PS: Josh Wise's engine is toast.

Lap 10 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 2: Josh Wise is up in smoke, slow it down.

Lap 9 -- Drivers working in this new track after early caution.

Lap 8 -- Greg Biffle's power move has worked, as he's the new leader.

Lap 5 -- Greg Biffle charging but Ambrose staying up.

Lap 4 -- GREEN FLAG: They're going to try again, as Marcos Ambrose trying to reclaim his lead spot.

Lap 2 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 1: Well, Kurt Busch made his name quickly, spinning out early.

Lap 1 -- Ambrose breaks free for the lead.

3:05 p.m. ET -- GREEN FLAG: Marcos Ambrose comes from a land down under, but he's up top as the field goes green for the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

2:54 p.m. ET -- The most famous words in sports: "Drivers, start your engines!" Great job on the delivery by Jimmy Howard and his father, James.

2:41 p.m. ET -- C'mon jet dryers -- nearly all soaked up ... cars all lined up.

2:33 p.m. ET -- Nice fly over by F-16s of the 112th Fighter Squadron, Ohio Air National Guard.

2:32 p.m. ET -- Members of the US Army Chorus perform National Anthem.

2:31 p.m. ET -- Invocation under way with Pastor Doug Bradshaw, Williamston Free Methodist Church.

2:30 p.m. ET -- One driver after another bringing up basically the same point in interviews: replacement tires/fast track/slick pavement equal extremely uncertain race at MIS.

2:21 p.m. ET -- That's right, rain. You better stop. Jet dryers back out, blue skies opening up...

2:12 p.m. ET -- Starting to drizzle again after driver intros... Stop. It. Now.

2 p.m. ET -- Drivers signing autographs en route to their cars ... it's almost time!

1:54 p.m. ET -- Great chats on TNT between Elliott, Petty, etc. father-son teams on this special day.

1:45 p.m. ET -- Remember to stay updated with NASCAR's Twitter feed.

1:27 p.m. ET -- Pre-race ceremonies slated to start at 1:45 p.m. ET!

1:24 p.m. ET -- Marcos Ambrose explaining what Vegemite is ... and making the TNT crew eat it. Priceless.

1:18 p.m. ET -- Jet dryers are out!

1:17 p.m. ET -- A look at the radar has this storm cell nearly past MIS...

1:12 p.m. ET -- Sir Jimmie of the Rainbow Wig up next on TNT...

1:10 p.m. ET -- That's a smart New York accent Tommy Baldwin's sporting ... the question on set is can TBR be competitive? Fuggeddaboutit!

12:55 p.m. ET -- PS: Drivers all still in tees and caps, doing funny interviews, so that 1:16 p.m. ET start time is washing away like raindrops on a windshield at 203 mph...

12:51 p.m. ET -- You'd never know about his 143-race winless streak by the confident demeanor Junior's presented lately...

12:49 p.m. ET -- Dale Jr. up next on TNT's Countdown to Green, so tune in if you haven't already. It was four years ago exactly at this race when he posted his last victory (check out a great David Caraviello column on the topic). Is another in the air today?

12:42 p.m. ET -- Ryan Newman on with daughter Brooklyn ... both dad and his lady have that same "You talkin' ta ME?!" Al Pacino face built-in come interview time. Ah, genetics.

12:37 p.m. ET -- Another tidbit to keep an eye on once they go green from MIS: two, count 'em two, competition cautions slated for both laps 20 and 45 for car adjustments.

12:33 p.m. ET -- Brad Keselowski killing it like Johnny Carson on the TNT set. This guy has a serious post-race career in the booth...

12:25 p.m. ET -- And, by the way, Happy Father's Day to all the Pops out there! Best Dad's Day quip so far goes to Kyle Petty on Countdown to Green on TNT, who says: "You've seen my career, my father never taught me anything." You don't really know how to drop a good burn unless you can put one on yourself ... kudos, Prince Ponytail.

12:21 p.m. ET -- Big Daddy Kes on the Countdown to Green set. Oh yeah.

12:10 p.m. ET -- Behind Mr. Ambrose (203.241 mph qualifying time!!!), the top five is rounded out with Kevin Harvick starting second, followed by Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth. Ryan Newman was slated to start fifth, but he and Jimmie Johnson have changed engines and will start from the back.

12:06 p.m. ET -- Light rain currently in Michigan, with a thunderstorm cell directly over the track right now. Showers are moving east and hopefully won't be a problem for too long. No change yet on the 1:16 p.m. ET green-flag time.

12:01 p.m. ET -- TNT's coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at MIS is live!

8:05 a.m. ET -- Michigan International Speedway hosts the Quicken Loans 400 this afternoon. It's currently 68 degrees and partly cloudy at the track, with temperatures expected to reach a high of 83 degrees. There are scattered showers in the forecast throughout the day (40 percent). Marcos Ambrose will start on the pole for the race, which has been marked by a last-minute Goodyear tire switch due to the scalding speeds at the repaved track. Green flag drops at 1:16 p.m. ET.