Six-Time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson has done just about everything in the Sprint Cup Series.  But until yesterday’s Quicken Loans 400, he had never won at Michigan International Speedway.  With that milestone added to his illustrious career, Johnson, aka The Emperor, has visited Victory Lane for the third time in the last four weeks.

Consider the dominating summer, the possibility of which I previously wrote about, to be official.  Johnson and the 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team have re-asserted themselves atop the Sprint Cup field.  Their three wins and solid finishes in other races have catapulted them to second in the points standings and the first seed in The Chase For The Sprint Cup playoffs.

The dominance of Johnson is not just limited to his team.  All of the Hendrick Motorsports cars have separated themselves from other Sprint Cup teams.  Johnson’s win makes five straight for Hendrick, and yesterday, all of the organization’s cars finished in the Top Ten.  Kasey Kahne was fifth, Jeff Gordon was sixth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was seventh.  In addition, Kevin Harvick finished second, Tony Stewart finished eleventh and Kurt Bush finished thirteenth. All of those cars are powered by Hendrick engines.

Impressed / Unimpressed

Kyle Larson continues to impress me, but the same can’t be said regarding Tony Stewart.  I missed the initial incident, but I saw the aftermath on TNT.  Stewart was displaying one finger to Larson, and it wasn’t because the driver of the 42 Target Chevrolet is the top rookie this year.

Larson rebounded from his mistakes of the day to finish eighth.  That is also his place in the Sprint Cup standings. One win and a solid second half of the season, and Larson will be in The Chase.

Unhappy Harvick

The 4 Budweiser Chevrolet, driven by Kevin Harvick, led the most laps once again (63 of 200).  Nevertheless, Harvick finished second for the third time this year.  Happy he was not, especially during the post-race press conference.  See his impression of Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick here.

Leaders 

Twelve of the top fourteen finishers led laps on Sunday.  The only two who did not were Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.  Those two are thirteenth (Menard) and fourteenth (Bowyer) in the standings, and both drivers are in position to make The Chase.  However, both need at least one win to guarantee a spot in NASCAR’s playoff.

 Lug Nuts

  • There were 8 cautions for a total of 36 laps, but it felt like there were 8 in the first 36 laps of the race. 
  • Track position was key again, as clean air allowed the leader to gain a huge lead over other cars inside the top ten.  Two tires, no tires/gas only and not pitting were tried by most teams to remain out front.
  • The Quicken Loans 400 was a quick race.  It took only 2 hours and 47 minutes to complete the 400 miles.
  • For the second time in three weeks, Kyle Bush finished at the rear of the field.  Yesterday’s 41st was preceded by a 42nd at Dover two weeks ago.
  • I didn’t bother attempting to use NASCAR’s RaceView Mobile, so I won’t be reporting that it didn’t work AGAIN.

Next Race

It’s wine country time!  The cars will be turning left and right at the road course in Sonoma, California.  Coverage begins at 2:00 ET on TNT.