Two of Junior's most memorable wins came in the Irish Hills of Michigan Dale Earnhardt Jr . has a knack for ending winless streaks at Michigan International Speedway . While his current drought is only four races thanks to his win in May at Talladega Superspeedway , there was once a time when NASCAR's most popular driver ended a pair of glaring winless streaks at the 2-mile track located in the Irish Hills of Michigan. With the Sprint Cup Series heading to MIS for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM), it's a good time to look back at 2008 and 2012, when the Hendrick Motorsports driver quieted the critics and brought roars from the stands. When Junior entered Victory Lane on June 15, 2008 after he took the LifeLock 400 checkered flag, it brought plenty of relief to Junior Nation, knowing that Earnhardt's decision to leave Dale Earnhardt Incorporated for Hendrick Motorsports could pay off. By picking up his first win since 2006 -- in just his 15th race with his new organization – it allowed his fan base to exhale a bit and focus on all the wins to come in the years ahead (more on that later). In the video above, you may have noticed the final lap lacked much drama, as Junior won the race after Patrick Carpentier spun on the white flag to bring out the yellow -- meaning all Earnhardt had to do was maintain speed as he came to the finish. It worked out because the No. 88 was running low on gas -- Junior didn't even have enough to do a victory burnout and needed to be pushed to Victory Lane -- so if the final lap had been run at full speed, it's possible he'd have run out. Besides, the slow lap just gave fans a chance to cheer louder and longer. Now, as for all of those "wins to come in the years ahead" -- they didn't. Following his landmark win in 2008, Junior then found himself mired in a 143-race winless streak, equating to just under four full seasons. Gas or no gas, after a streak like that, Earnhardt made sure he celebrated with one of the best burnouts we've seen in recent years after he took the Quicken Loans 400 checkered flag in 2012. Worth the wait. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
In-depth look at men calling the shots for title contenders RELATED: Crew chiefs aim to keep it the same " Learn more about Newman's pit crew MORE: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Where did these four guys come from? What have they done in the past? A glance at the crew chiefs who will try to guide their respective teams to their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway : RODNEY CHILDERS Age: 38 " Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina Team: Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet Driver: Kevin Harvick Career crew chief wins: 7 Chase appearances: 1 Championships: 0 First premier series win as crew chief: 2009 Coca-Cola 600 , Charlotte Motor Speedway , with driver David Reutimann ( Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 Toyota) Previous NASCAR racing experience • 2003: Mechanic, Penske-Jasper Racing No. 77 Dodge in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with driver Dave Blaney • 2004: Car chief, Penske-Jasper Racing No. 77 Dodge with driver Brendan Gaughan • 2005: Replaced Doug Randolph after 14 races as crew chief of the MB2 Motorsports No. 10 Chevrolet with driver Scott Riggs • 2006: Crew chief for Riggs, MB2 Motorsports; finished 20th in points • 2007: Crew chief for Riggs, Patrick Carpentier and Elliott Sadler (MB2 Motorsports No. 10 Dodge) • 2008: Crew chief for Elliott Sadler (35 of 36 races) and Gillett Evernham Motorsports No. 19 Dodge; 24th-place points finish • 2009: Began three-year tenure as crew chief for driver David Reutimann , Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 Toyota; 16th-place points finish, which was best of relationship. • 2012: Crew chief for No. 55 MWR Toyota with drivers Mark Martin , Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip • 2013: Crew chief for No. 55 MWR Toyota with drivers Mark Martin , Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip TODD GORDON Age: 45 " Hometown: Camden, New York Team: Team Penske No. 22 Ford Driver: Joey Logano Career crew chief wins: 6 Chase appearances: 2 Championships: 0 First premier series win as crew chief: 2013 Pure Michigan 400 , Michigan International Speedway with driver Joey Logano (Team Penske No. 22 Ford) Previous NASCAR racing experience • 2000-02: Fabricator, mechanic and race engineer with Joe Gibbs Racing • 2002: Joined ppc Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series • 2005: Named crew chief of ppc Racing No. 10 Ford with drivers Michel Jourdain and Brent Sherman • 2006: Crew chief for Jourdain, Todd Kluever, Kenny Wallace at ppc • 2007: Crew chief and general manager for CJM Racing and No. 10 Chevrolet with driver Jason Keller, Kyle Krisiloff, Marc Mitchell • 2008: Eleventh in points with Keller through 28 races before departing to join Baker Curb Racing; three races with Scott Lagasse as driver • 2009: Crew chief for Keller at Baker Curb Racing in No. 27 Ford; eighth-place points finish • 2010: Race engineer Diamond-Waltrip Racing • 2011: Scored six wins (five with Brad Keselowski , one with Kurt Busch ) as crew chief of Team Penske’s No. 22 NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford • 2012: Named crew chief of the Team Penske No. 22 Ford with driver AJ Allmendinger (subsequently replaced by Sam Hornish Jr . after 17 races) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series • 2013: Guided Joey Logano to one win, eighth-place points finish in Chase for the Sprint Cup DARIAN GRUBB Age: 39 " Hometown: Floyd, Virginia Team: Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota Driver: Denny Hamlin Career crew chief wins: 21 Chase appearances: 5 Championships: 1 First premier series win as crew chief: 2006 Daytona 500 , Daytona International Speedway with driver Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet) Previous NASCAR racing experience • 2006: Won twice in interim crew chief role for Hendrick Motorsports with driver Jimmie Johnson , including Daytona 500 • 2007: Won Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with Hendrick Motorsports and driver Casey Mears ; 15th-place points finish • 2009: Moved to Stewart-Haas Racing to become crew chief for Tony Stewart and No. 14 SHR team. Won four points races, as well as Sprint-All Star race; sixth-place points finish • 2010: Two wins with Stewart at SHR; seventh-place points finish • 2011: Won five times, all in the Chase, with Stewart at SHR en route to series title after learning he would not be retained for 2012 • 2011: Named crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 team and driver Denny Hamlin on Dec. 9 • 2012: Guided Hamlin to five wins and sixth-place points finish • 2013: One win with Hamlin, who missed four races due to injury; 23rd-place points finish Note: Grubb was fined $125,000, suspended by NASCAR for six races and placed on six months probation earlier this season for a rules violation at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . LUKE LAMBERT Age: 32 " Hometown: Mount Airy, North Carolina Team: Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet Driver: Ryan Newman Career crew chief wins: 0 Chase appearances: 1 Championships: 0 First premier series win as crew chief: None Previous NASCAR racing experience • 2005-08: Junior engineer at Richard Childress Racing • 2008-11: Lead engineer, Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet • 2011: Replaced Todd Berrier as crew chief of Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet with driver Jeff Burton for final 17 races of season; 20th-place points finish • 2012: Crew chief of Richard Childress Racing No. 2 Chevrolet in NASCAR Nationwide Series and driver Elliott Sadler ; led Sadler to four wins and second-place points finish. • 2013: Returned to Sprint Cup Series as crew chief of Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet with driver Jeff Burton ; 20th-place points finish Note: Lambert and Newman are one of two first-year driver/crew chief pairings contending for the championship, along with Childers/Harvick. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Sprint Cup star to work Michigan race, Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1 RELATED: TV schedule for June 8-14 " BUY: Patrick gear Q: Danica, you will be making your first appearance in the booth during the NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday, June 13 (1:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). You are so accustomed to getting ready to drive, any nerves as you prepare to join the broadcast team on FS1? DANICA PATRICK : "I wouldn't really say I'm nervous. I enjoy trying new things, and I'm looking forward to getting in the booth and sharing my perspective with all the fans watching at home." Q: Fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers -- Clint Bowyer , Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Brad Keselowski -- have already joined the broadcast team as guest analysts this year. Any key takeaways from watching those guys? DP: "Those guys have definitely done a great job so far this year, and it's been great to hear their insight each week as I watched the XFINITY races. I think there are definitely a few things I've picked up from watching each of them, and we'll see how well I can put that to use on Saturday." Q: Your teammate, Kevin Harvick , has been in the booth a number of times this year, has he given you any tips? DP: "Kevin and I talked a bit at Dover a couple weeks ago. I went up to the booth while he was there for the XFINITY race just to see what it was like so I know what to expect this weekend. He showed me a few things and gave me a few pointers." Q: You will be joining the booth with another former driver in Michael Waltrip . What can you expect when working with him this weekend? DP: "Michael is always a fun guy to be around so I expect we'll have a good time up in the booth." Q: Is working in television something that may interest you in the future? DP: "One lesson I've learned is to never say never, and it's always good to explore different things to see what you might like doing so we'll see." Q: The NASCAR XFINITY Series is off to a great start, and has been coined "the series where names are made." Are there any young drivers that you are looking forward to watching? DP: "There's definitely a lot of great talent in the XFINITY Series. I watch most of the races, but I wouldn't say there's any one particular driver that I'm focused on watching -- I'm usually more focused on watching how the race as a whole plays out." Q: The race will be run at one of the fastest races on the circuit, Michigan International Speedway . Are there any specific challenges that track presents for NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers? DP: "Michigan is a wide, fast track. There's lots of room to move around and try different lines. I think it's a momentum track, and you have to focus on being smooth. At the end of the day, the car has to handle well. It has to feel good. It has to be a fast car. I think those are the challenges -- getting your car to handle well and being smooth and consistent, lap after lap, at such a fast track." Q: You started your NASCAR career in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (once called the Nationwide Series). How important was your experience in the series before you made the jump to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series? DP: "Racing in the XFINITY Series was very important to the development of my NASCAR career. Moving over to stock cars from the IndyCar Series was a huge jump for me, and having that time at the XFINITY level really helped prepare me for the move up to the Sprint Cup Series." Q: Can you give an early assessment of your team's performance throughout this season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series? DP: "It's been an interesting year so far. We've had a few tough weekends, and we've also had some races that started out rough, but then we were able to turn things around and ended up finishing pretty well. Daniel (Knost, crew chief) and I are both still relatively green in our current roles and we're still continuing to work on our communication and how we work together as a team." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Host Matthew Dillner takes you through a very hot Daytona International Speedway NSCS garage in this edition of GarageCam.
Danica Patrick makes contact with the wall off Turn 3 and ends up spinning in Turn 1, making harder contact with the wall.
Danica Patrick takes some time to sign fan tweets using the hashtag #SignMyTweet.
Check out some of the funniest moments in the media center in this edition of Funny Moments.
Company still wants NASCAR driver as spokeswoman GoDaddy will not renew its primary sponsorship with the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Chevrolet driven by Danica Patrick , according to a release on Wednesday. But the company revealed it is negotiating to keep Patrick as a GoDaddy spokeswoman under a personal services agreement. RELATED " Cain: Chance to sponsor Danica is one to line up for "We love Danica and all she does to empower and inspire people, especially women, which is why we are working to keep her in the GoDaddy family," said GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Phil Bienert in the release. "We have the utmost respect for Stewart-Haas Racing , and they've been phenomenal partners. ... The fact Danica is having a record-setting season makes it tough to leave this motorsports sponsorship, without a doubt." In nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season, Patrick has two top-10 finishes, including a seventh-place finish at Martinsville. With her ninth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway , Patrick set a Sprint Cup Series record for top-10 finishes by a woman driver with six for her career. "GoDaddy has been an incredible partner for a very long time, almost nine years, and as I've said before, our brands have really grown up together," Patrick said in the release. "It's pretty cool, from a marketing perspective, that we helped GoDaddy build such strong brand awareness here in the U.S. I'm excited to work with GoDaddy on a personal level moving forward, but will miss having their bright green color on my race car next year." NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France had the following to say when asked on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday about GoDaddy's impending departure: "We're always disappointed when for one reason or another a company changes course. But that happens, and I know recently they just went from being private to a publicly traded company and I'm sure that changes a lot of their budgets and strategy and that's just how that goes. "Danica is very marketable as we all know ... and I've really been watching her and she's competing more and more at a higher level, and she's very competitive. She wants to really make her mark over a period of time, and it's a tough place to do it with the kind of talent and parity that's in NASCAR. But she's showing progress and I think she'll be just fine." Despite GoDaddy's impending departure, one in four FORTUNE 500 companies are now invested in NASCAR, eight percent higher than in 2008. And over the last two years, more than 65 new companies became NASCAR team sponsors. Later Wednesday morning, Patrick tweeted about the news. Heck of a lot of season left to win driving the @godaddy car! Everything evolves and changes in life, I'm excited for what's to come! — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) April 29, 201 FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
SHR driver will be part of field for Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night Danica Patrick was revealed to be the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote on Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway following the Sprint Showdown. That put Patrick in the field for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race , where engine trouble sent her to a 20th-place finish. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver became the first person to win the Sprint Fan Vote twice, earning the honor in 2013. Earlier in the week, Miss Sprint Cup revealed that Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ), Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Patrick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) and Josh Wise (Phil Parsons Racing) were the top-five vote getters. Since the Sprint Fan Vote was instituted in 2004, only one driver -- Kasey Kahne in 2008 -- has won the vote and gone on to win the race. The 12 fan vote winners have averaged a finish of 14.75 in the Sprint All-Star Race. Previous Sprint Fan Vote winners and their results in the Sprint All-Star Race Year Driver Result 2004 Ken Schrader 13th 2005 Martin Truex Jr . 22nd 2006 Kyle Petty 8th 2007 Kenny Wallace 16th 2008 Kasey Kahne WON 2009 Joey Logano 8th 2010 Carl Edwards 21st 2011 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 14th 2012 Bobby Labonte 19th 2013 Danica Patrick 20th 2014 Josh Wise 15th 2015 Danica Patrick 20th
Restrictor plate tracks return to single-car qualifying starting this weekend Related: Biffle tops final practice " Stenhouse fastest in first practice TALLADEGA, Ala. – Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick said, “it just didn’t work.” Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Danica Patrick likened it to the TV show “Survivor.” The shelf life of group qualifying on restrictor plate tracks has expired. Tradition, some would say sanity, has returned. When NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams hit the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway for qualifying Saturday, fans won’t see packs of cars jostling for position, trailing cars laying back trying to catch the air and possibly ride the draft to a front-row starting spot. They also won’t see multi-car crashes similar to the one that unfolded at Daytona when the format was put into play for this year’s season-opening race. Instead, teams will go it solo with one driver’s qualifying attempt coming to a close as the next begins. “I feel really good about what it has evolved into,” Harvick said Friday at Talladega, site of Sunday’s GEICO 500 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET). “I think all the competitors feel that way. We were tearing up a lot of cars in qualifying.” According to NASCAR officials, each driver will complete three laps – the first to get up to speed, the second which will be the official qualifying lap, and a third as he or she returns to pit road. Approximately halfway through the qualifying lap, the next driver in line will head out for his or her attempt. The qualifying order in each series will be based on a random draw for the first of two rounds. In the final round, the order will be based on first-round times, from slowest to fastest. Each session is expected to take less than one hour to complete. Patrick ’s only pole in the Sprint Cup Series came in the Daytona 500 two years ago, under the single-car qualifying format. “It just was, I feel, like a very unnecessary stress for everybody,” Patrick said of the group qualifying format at Daytona and Talladega. “The amount of conversations and meeting with drivers … I felt like I was on ‘Survivor’ … trying to make alliances and finding out the best thing to do was not have any and just be the one that tags onto the group. Because nobody really cared if it was just one car. “But when a group of five saw you, you’re like ‘oh, I can’t have all five of those going faster.’” The speed and closing rate of a car, or cars, catching a group in front often meant the pole winner wasn’t the first to cross the line. Friday’s two practice sessions saw plenty of pack drafting but no significant contact. Roush Fenway Ford driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (200.780 mph) led the opening practice while teammate Greg Biffle (197.929 mph) topped the leaderboard in the second. Biffle, who has one restrictor plate pole and one win, says he’s pleased with the change to the qualifying format “because it’s the speed of the car.” “It’s not who got the lucky lane or who got a draft or who laid back so far and got sucked up on a big run,” Biffle, 45, said. “… I feel (this is) the right way to do it.” Group qualifying will continue to be used to set the starting lineup at tracks other than Talladega and Daytona. Such a format works well at those shorter tracks, Harvick said. “I think there have been a lot of things that have changed, but … our qualifying change has been week-in and week-out probably one of the better changes that we have had in our sport in a while. “I think when you look a the adjustment and the time everybody has put in, I hope it evolves into that … this weekend as well.” FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule