CONCORD, N.C. – For the fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Hendrick Motorsports took home a top-three finish Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
This week, it was Chase Elliott notching a career-best finish of second, giving the organization back-to-back runner-up results along with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Pocono finish.
Let’s take a look at what we learned at Michigan.
ELLIOTT’S RUN CONTINUES
Elliott has now taken home six consecutive top-10 finishes, four of which were inside the top five.
“I had another fantastic car,” he said. “My guys have been doing a really good job the past few weeks, and we've been just trying to give it all we can get to get one of these things.”
Even with his runner-up result, Elliott was hard on himself for not finding Victory Lane after leading 35 laps.
“My guys have been doing such a good job -- from pit stops to the guys at the shop,” he said. “Everybody has been giving it 110 percent, and I definitely messed one up for them today.”
Elliott said his car was fast all afternoon, but it was especially noticeable when he found clean air in the front of the pack.
“I felt like we could kind of control the pace when we were out in front,” he said. “I thought that said a lot about our car, and once we had the lead there, I felt like we had a really good opportunity to control the rest of the race if we had good restarts and good time on pit road.
“Pit road was fantastic, and the restarts weren't, so that was the difference.”
KAHNE FINDS TOP 15 IN ‘TOUGH RACE’
Starting 23rd, Kasey Kahne battled tough conditions all afternoon long at Michigan.
“It was a tough day -- it was tough to restart,” he said. “I mean, I restarted between 15th and 24th all day long. It was just tough back there.”
The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS explained that with so many aggressive drivers moving around throughout the pack, it was easy to quickly fall back six spots, then just as quickly regain six more.
“It is just all over and it just depends what the people do in Turn 1,” he said. “It’s pretty wild, pretty tough, but our car was decent at times. It was really good at times and then other times I couldn’t figure it out. It was a tough race.”
In the end, he managed to move all the way up to 13th before the checkered flag waved.
NEW RACING PACKAGE AT MICHIGAN
New rules debuted as Michigan, and they will be in effect once again next month at Kentucky Speedway.
Asked how it was to race with the new package on Sunday, Earnhardt said he didn’t feel much of a difference.
“It’s not a whole lot different than the other packages,” he said.
Elliott agreed that it was hard to say much about the changes.
“It's still hard to race running that fast,” he said. “I don't care if we have a spoiler or no spoiler or 16 inches of spoiler. It doesn't matter. Running 215 mph, it's going to be hard to race.”
Kahne, meanwhile, said how well the cars drove all depended on where they were positioned in traffic and how much air found them.
While he said it wasn’t much different than any of the other packages the sport has tried at Michigan in the past, he has an opportunity to get a better grasp on the new rules this week.
“There was a lot going on with this package for sure,” Kahne said. “We are going to test Kentucky the next two days so hopefully we can make a few gains and understand it a little better for that race. That surface is going to be very interesting, I would imagine.”