UPS Game-Changing Moments: Michigan
August 11, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
JOHNSON BLOWS ENGINE, LOSES NEARLY HALF HIS POINTS LEAD
Jimmie Johnson's Michigan futility continued Sunday, as the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion exited the Pure Michigan 400 early with engine issues.
Johnson has never won at Michigan in what is now 24 career Cup starts. It's one of only five tracks where the Hendrick Motorsports driver has yet to visit Victory Lane.
"Coming down the back straightway I felt it dropped a couple of cylinders and I knew we were in trouble," Johnson, the series points leader and a four-time winner this season, said. "So I brought it to pit road. Unfortunately, it finally broke all the way and locked up."
Johnson started at the rear of the field Sunday, his No. 3 qualifying effort wiped out by a Saturday spin that necessitated the use of a backup car for the race. The early end to his day wiped out his 75-point advantage over Clint Bowyer, leaving him 41 ahead of second place leaving Michigan.
He had climbed as high as 22nd by Lap 18, taking advantage of early cautions to get fresh tires and fuel. He also led three laps during an early round of green-flag pit stops because of the differing pit cycle.
Once the green-flag stops had been completed, Johnson was seventh in the running order -- until he made the hard left turn into the garage, his day done with a 40th-place finish.
EARNHARDT JR. BLOWS A TIRE WHILE RUNNING UP FRONT
Dale Earnhardt Jr. smacked the Turn 2 wall on Lap 135 -- after leading 20 circuits earlier in the race -- and took his crippled car to the garage for repairs.
Earnhardt finished 36th and dropped from sixth to seventh in the standings, 20 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne with three races left before the Chase field is set at Richmond.
LOGANO SAVES FUEL TO MAKE IT TO THE FINISH
Add another name to the Chase conversation.
Joey Logano started Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the pole, and after a convoluted mix of strategy and racing incidents, it was Logano who claimed the victory and established himself as a contender for a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
The victory was Logano’s first of the season, his first at Michigan, his first for Penske Racing and the third of his career. Kevin Harvick ran second, followed by Kurt Busch, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.
NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce and the NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this report.