Hendrick team's bad luck at Michigan International Speedway continues
Due to a variety of issues (mechanical, accidents, etc.), the team's drivers finished 28th (Jimmie Johnson), 37th (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), 38th (Kasey Kahne) and 39th (Jeff Gordon).
In August, they were hoping for a better result, but unfortunately for them that didn't happen.
Kasey Kahne had a decent day, so things weren't quite as bad. He finished 7th and solidified his Chase chances a bit more.
Beyond that, it was once again abysmal.
Jeff Gordon was a nonfactor, struggling with his car all day and finishing 17th.
Dale Jr. led early but then crashed and finished 36th.
Jimmie Johnson, who already had crashed in practice and gone to a backup car, had the backup car's engine fail and he finished 40th. He's still leading the points by a lot; so he didn't really get hurt. In fact, he might have been experimenting for the Chase (the backup car was intended for the first Chase race). If that's the case, he should be glad he didn't blow up in a Chase race and knows now what not to do.
Every team has its weak tracks from time to time. Hendrick has won here in the past, but it's safe to say that 2013 was not their year at MIS. They should be grateful this track is not in the Chase.
There were some great comebacks in Sunday's race by drivers who had trouble early.
Clint Bowyer lost control of his car and spun out on the race's first lap. Somehow, he was able to come back from all of that and get a top-10 (he finished 6th). With Johnson stumbling in the points today, the comeback for Bowyer was the difference between making up some ground and not making up any (though the points details don't matter too much for Bowyer; he's pretty much a lock despite not having a win, though I'm sure he'd like one for bonus points.)
Also, Austin DIllon substitute drove (likely for one week only, with Mark Martin coming on board now) in the 14 car for Tony Stewart. He wrecked early, ran toward the back all day, but somehow came up to 14th at the end to get a decent finish in Smoke's car.
I still think it was a bad idea for him to skip Nationwide qualifying (as a result, he slipped to 4th in Nationwide points). But this was still a great experience for Austin in coming back from adversity in a Cup car -- something he'll definitely have to do next year in he drives Cup full-time for RCR as expected.
Matt Myftiu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu