Johnson Breaks Michigan Winless Streak

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan. Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

Over a month ago, critics were wondering if Jimmie Johnson was ever going to win a Sprint Cup race this season. Now he’s won three out of the last four.

Jimmie Johnson was able to claim his first victory in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Crew Chief Chad Knaus played some great strategy for the No. 48 team which put them in the position to win. Pit strategies are scattered throughout the field as the number of laps were ticking down. After all of the drivers had come down for service, it cycled back to Johnson and he was able to hold on for the win.

This was Hendrick Motorsports’ fifth consecutive victory.

It was a rather rough start to the race. Brian Vickers got loose on the first lap out of turn four and got into the wall. He expertly positioned his car on the track to avoid a large incident as he was running eighth at the time. Travis Kvapil wasn’t so lucky as the right side of his car sideswiped Vickers’ car and both sustained heavy damage. Both drivers were ok and later went out to pick up some laps after repairing the damage.

Kyle Busch also had a rough day when he was slow on the restart on lap 79. He quickly dropped to the rear of the field. They took his M&Ms Toyota to the garage area where they diagnosed the problem – a broken left rear hub. The crew worked quickly to get him out on the racetrack. He returned to the track to run for a few laps but later returned to the garage.

It appeared that Kevin Harvick would be hard to beat in this race. He powered to the lead after two quick cautions at the beginning of the race and showed strength later in the race when he would battle for track position. He made an effort at the end when he was able to pass two positions and take aim at Johnson but just ran out of laps. He would finish in the second position. Harvick led the most laps on the day with 63.

Kasey Kahne and Rookie of the Year contender Kyle Larson were able to rebound with nice finishes after finding trouble early in the race. They both spun to bring out the second caution on the day on lap seven and would restart deep in the field. Strategy and ability would bring them both up through the field lap by lap. Both would lead laps on the day. Some believe that the lack of some of the rear bumper cover on Kyle Larson’s No. 42 allowed him a little better advantage after damage sustained after his crash. Kahne would finish fifth and Larson ninth.

Jeff Gordon was able to lead 36 laps and was showing promise to have a top three finish but a pit sequence put him out of reach. He was able to snag a sixth place finish.

Tony Stewart had a strong day until contact with Kyle Larson cost him position after a lengthy visit to fix the left front of his car. Stewart tapped Larson’s right rear on a restart and caused damage to the splitter. Stewart started 26th and raced up to the top five and dropped out of the top ten. He finished 11th.

The top ten: Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, and Clint Bowyer.

The next NASCAR Sprint Cup race will be Sunday, June 22 at 3 p.m. ET. It’s the first road course race of the season as the teams go to Sonoma for the Toyota-Save Mart 350. PRN will have the radio broadcast while TNT will have the telecast.