Dale Jr. Back in Victory Lane
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended a 76-race winless streak in dramatic fashion at Michigan International Speedway after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LifeLock 400 on Sunday.
In a strategy-filled race, Earnhardt managed to conserve enough fuel in the final laps to finish ahead of Kasey Kahne, becoming a first-time Sprint Cup Series winner at the two-mile oval.
With his final pit stop coming with 50 laps remaining, Earnhardt eventually moved ahead of Jamie McMurray late in the race to take the lead and looked to have the race in hand with enough fuel in the tank before a Sam Hornish Jr. spin with three laps remaining brought out the caution.
The race came down to a green-white-checkered two-lap shootout and the leaders got on the gas as if they had fuel to burn when the green flag waved. On the final lap, Michael Waltrip and Patrick Carpentier both spun out with Earnhardt and Kahne still running one-two. The yellow flag came out and Earnhardt was pronounced the winner, NASCAR Sprint Cup Rules stating that there’s only one green-white-checkered opportunity.
It was a victory that was a long-time coming for NASCAR’s most popular figure.
“Thanks to all the fans. I had a lot of fun today. I want to say Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there,” Earnhardt said. “I hope it was a good one for them; I sure had a good day. I was just thinking about the great opportunity I have got with this team, I have to give my team a lot of credit, Tony (Eury), Jr. and all the guys, the road crew. The fabrication and engine at Hendrick, they are awesome. I don’t want for anything; these guys give me everything I need.”
It was also a special Father’s Day victory for Earnhardt, who lost his father Dale Earnhardt Sr. seven years ago.
“I would rank it in my top five,” Earnhardt. “It was a real special victory for me.”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return to MIS in August for the 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo. The NASCAR Nationwide Series will also bring its annual show to MIS in August with the running of the CARFAX 250. Tickets are available by calling the MIS ticket hotline at 800-354-1010 or visiting MISpeedway.com.