CONCORD, N.C. — This week, Hendrick Motorsports haulers are traveling back to Michigan International Speedway for the second annual race at the Irish Hills track. With its lush scenery, widespread turns and title as the fastest track on the Sprint Cup circuit, Michigan has provided Hendrick Motorsports with unforgettable memories since the team began racing there in 1984.
As the drivers prepare to make 200 left turns around the two-mile oval on Sunday, let’s take a look at three memorable Hendrick Motorsports memories at Michigan.
Aug. 16, 1998: A 26-year-old Jeff Gordon seemed to have limitless potential when he strapped into his car for the 400-mile race at Michigan on Aug. 16, 1998. The young driver was ranked first in the Cup point standings, had already won seven races that season and was looking to capture his fourth straight victory of the year. After starting third, Gordon piloted his No. 24 Chevrolet to his eighth win of the 1998 Cup season. He would finish out the rest of the year with five more victories before earning his third Cup championship title at the season’s close.
June 15, 2008: It was almost halfway through the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season when Dale Earnhardt Jr. arrived at Michigan International Speedway on June 15. Earnhardt was in the midst of his first year driving for Hendrick Motorsports and was searching for his first win of the season. He found it that day. After rolling off the grid third, Earnhardt powered his No. 88 Chevrolet around the track 203 times before crossing the finish line first, recording his first career win at the Irish Hills track and first victory under the Hendrick Motorsports banner.
Jun 15, 2014: Hendrick Motorsports was on a winning streak when the team headed to the Irish Hills for the biannual race at Michigan on June 15, 2014. Gordon had kicked off the trend when he took the checkered flag at Kansas, followed by back-to-back wins from Jimmie Johnson and a first-place finish from Earnhardt. But among the Hendrick Motorsports drivers, Johnson was the unlikely pick to win that day’s race at Michigan, as it was one of the few tracks that he had yet to reach Victory Lane at. That changed when he seized the lead with nine laps to go, holding on to record his first career win at the Irish Hills track.