What to Watch For: Michigan
By Gray Caldwell
CONCORD, N.C.— This weekend, the Hendrick Motorsports drivers head to Michigan International Speedway.
Before the race—scheduled for 1 p.m. ET—here are a few things to keep an eye on.
THIS WEEK'S PAINT SCHEMES: Sunday marks the ninth consecutive year Lowe's has partnered with the Jimmie Johnson Foundation to run the JJF paint scheme, which will adorn the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet SS. Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet SS will sport the Axalta Racing Brilliant Flames paint scheme, the same one from wins at Kansas and Indianapolis this season. Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the familiar No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MICHIGAN: In 198 starts at Michigan, Hendrick Motorsports drivers have led 2,273 laps en route to seven wins, 46 top-five finishes and 85 top-10s at the two-mile oval. Johnson most recently visited Victory Lane at Michigan in June, when all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished in the top 10.
LOOKING FOR A SWEEP: Just like Earnhardt did at Pocono, Johnson is looking to sweep both events at Michigan. In June, Johnson recorded a long-awaited first victory at the two-mile track, leading 39 laps and checking Michigan off of the short list of tracks he had yet to win on in the Sprint Cup Series. The winless tracks that remain are Chicago, Homestead, Kentucky and Watkins Glen.
JOHNSON AT MICHIGAN: In 25 starts at Michigan, Johnson has recorded one win, five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. He has an average start of 8.8 and average finish of 16.2. Johnson has led 625 laps at the track in the Irish Hills of Michigan.
KAHNE AT MICHIGAN: In 21 Sprint Cup Series starts at Michigan, Kahne has one win, eight top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and has led 64 laps at the two-mile oval. He has started from the pole position twice and won from the top starting spot in June 2006. Most recently, Kahne started from the 13th position and finished fifth at the Irish Hills track in June.
EARNHARDT AT MICHIGAN: In 30 starts at Michigan, Earnhardt has recorded two wins, two pole positions, six top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He has completed 97.6 percent of all laps he's attempted (5,754 laps of 5,895 total) and led 348 laps at the two-mile oval.
TOP-10 FINISHES: Earnhardt's 15 top-10s in 2014 are tied with Gordon for series-best.
GORDON AT MICHIGAN: The 43-year old driver has two wins (1998 and 2001) in 43 Cup starts at Michigan. Gordon’s five pole positions, 18 top-five finishes and 26 top-10s are tops among active drivers at the Irish Hills track. He is the active leader in laps led at the two-mile track and is 10 shy of 1,000 laps led.
90 FOR 24: The No. 24 has 90 career wins in NASCAR’s premier series – which ranks fifth all-time for most wins by car number – with Gordon behind the wheel for each of those victories. Fourth on that list is the No. 21 with 18 drivers combining for 91 victories.