Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reminisces About His Time At Michigan

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. & Trevor Bayne
This weekend marks the last time the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., will compete in the series at Michigan International Speedway.

And while Michigan is one of many tracks Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be saying good-bye to this season, he thinks the 2-mile track in the Irish Hills is one of the best.

“This place here is, to me, the standard for the 1.5-mile or 2-mile race track,” he said on Friday, two days before the Pure Michigan 400. “This place is so much fun to race on for a driver. It’s a great race track.”

Some of Junior’s fondest memories from his racing career came at Michigan. And they’re not all wins. He won here twice in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and twice in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. But one of his strongest memories comes from a race he lost—the 1999 IROC race, the end of which he has rewatched numerous times. Unfortunately, the outcome has never changed!

Coming out of Turn 4 toward the checkered flag, he and his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., were battling for the win. Rusty Wallace came up behind them. Wallace could have pushed Junior to the win—which would have been poetically perfect, Junior said.

Wallace and Earnhardt Sr. flipped between friends and rivals throughout their careers. That was true on and off the track. If one of them bought a plane, the other one bought a bigger plane. So Junior thought that if Wallace pushed the son past the father for the win, Wallace would have been able to hold that over Earnhardt Sr.’s head forever. But Wallace didn’t get behind either one of them, and the elder Earnhardt won the race.

Junior said, half-jokingly, that he’s still mad at Wallace, 19 years later, for not helping him!


Evernham Believes Dodge’s Return To NASCAR Would Be Good For The Sport

Ray Evernham

Ray Evernham believes a return by Dodge to NASCAR competition would be good for the sport.

Earlier this month at the Ferrari Finali Mondiali at Daytona International Speedway, officials from the manufacturer hinted in recent days that Chrysler was considering coming back to NASCAR racing after stepping away in 2012.

“I think it is possible we can come back to NASCAR,” said Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Ferrari’s parent company – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. “I think we need to find the right way to come back in.”

The possibility triggered much buzz around the NASCAR world including with Evernham, who fielded a two car Cup team between 2001-2007 before departing as a team owner. During the course of the Evernham team’s existence Bill Elliott, Casey Atwood, Jeremy Mayfield, Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler drove cars that were responsible for six wins including a victory by Elliott in the 2002 Brickyard 400.

After Evernham closed his doors, Dodge continued in the sport until the end of the 2012 season when the manufacturer’s business challenges forced an exit from NASCAR competition.

If Dodge were to return, Evernham believes it would be a good thing for NASCAR.

“To me the more manufacturers that come in it shows that NASCAR can provide a global environment, a global opportunity for any manufacturer,” Evernham said. “Hopefully Dodge will come back again. You can’t fault them because they had financial issues. The fact that they are looking to come back says they never really wanted to leave. The more manufacturers that put money into this sport and make our racing economy better, if you will, is better for everybody.”

Evernham isn’t alone in his enthusiasm for a potential Dodge return. NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace would also like to see the manufacturer back in the sport.

“They are a major manufacturer, and they should be there,” Wallace said.

While the sanctioning body would not commit to having specific talks with Dodge officials, NASCAR did acknowledge conversations are ongoing with manufacturers interested in participating in the sport.

“There is increasing excitement around NASCAR,” said NASCAR spokesperson David Higdon. “We continue to have on-going dialogue with a number of auto manufacturers about their interest in joining our sport. We look forward to exploration with them on this topic.”

Although Evernham remains proud of the effort his team gave under the Dodge umbrella and wishes success to a future should the manufacturer come back to NASCAR.

“There isn’t anything better for NASCAR to remain healthy and grow stronger than participation from the automobile manufacturers,” he said. “Dodge has a long history in the sport and I’m sure they’d like nothing more than to be able to come back and add to that history. I’m hoping it happens.”

WOMR concurs with Evernham’s conclusion that Dodge’s participation within NASCAR would be great, not only for the manufacturer, but especially for NASCAR and the competition within!


2016 Sonoma Track Facts

Jeff Gordon

Here are some interesting 2016 NASCAR track facts regarding this weekend’s race at Sonoma Raceway.

There have been 201 drivers that have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway.  There have been 144 drivers that have competed in more than one race at Sonoma.

There have been 42 drivers that have made their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Sonoma Raceway.

Jeff Gordon leads the Sprint Cup Series in starts at Sonoma with 23; Tony Stewart leads all active drivers with 17 starts.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace leads the series in average starting position at Sonoma with a 6.941. Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in average starting position with a 9.200.

Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch have the most wins among active drivers at Sonoma with two each.

Jeff Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in all-time road course wins with nine (Sonoma, five; Watkins Glen, four); Tony Stewart has the second most road course wins all-time with seven (Watkins Glen, five; Sonoma, two).

NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison holds the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series record for the most wins at a single road course track with six at Riverside International Raceway.

Jeff Gordon is the only driver to post consecutive wins (three total) at Sonoma Raceway (1998 and 1999 each from the pole and 2000 from the fifth starting position).

Five of the 27 (18.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Sonoma have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Jeff Gordon in 2004. Gordon is the only NSCS driver to win from the pole at Sonoma more than once (1998, 1999 and 2004).

The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more wins (five) than any other starting position at Sonoma Raceway.

Eight of the 27 (29.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Sonoma have been won from the front row: five from the pole and three from second-place.

19 of the 27 (70.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Sonoma have been won from a top-10 starting position.

Carl Edwards competed at Sonoma Raceway 10 times before visiting Victory Lane; the longest span of any the nine active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.

Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. lead the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Sonoma without visiting Victory Lane at 16 each.

Juan Pablo Montoya is the only driver in series history to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Sonoma Raceway (6/24/2007).

Jeff Gordon leads the series in runner-up finishes at Sonoma with five. Tony Stewart leads all active drivers with three.

Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at Sonoma with 14; followed by Ricky Rudd with 10. Kurt Busch leads all active drivers with seven.

Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at Sonoma with 18; followed by Mark Martin with 13. Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart lead all active drivers with nine each.

Jeff Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Sonoma with an 8.304. Clint Bowyer leads all active series drivers with an 8.600.

Jeff Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Sonoma with 457 laps led in 23 starts. Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in laps led at Sonoma with 197 in 15 starts.

Danica Patrick is the only female driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to compete at Sonoma Raceway.

Just remember that I looked up these Sonoma race facts so that you would not have to.


Which Driver Dominates At Phoenix International Raceway?

Kevin Harvick PIt Stop
As the NASCAR haulers roll into The Valley of The Sun for this week’s race, the Good Sam 500 (k), it might be a good time to review some of the records and stats of the recent races there.

You might be very surprised to learn who is the winningest driver of all time this facility. One might think that may be Dale Earnhardt, Sr. or Rusty Wallace.  If that was your thought you would be incorrect.  It also is not Dale Jarrett, nor Darrell Waltrip. You would also be incorrect if you thought that it may be Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson.  The real answer to that question is that Kevin Harvick is the winningest driver of all time at Phoenix!  Happy Harvick has amassed seven wins at this track.

Since the track repave, the Fall race of 2011, Harvick has five wins.  He has also led a total of 1,028 laps, and a grand total of 1,345 laps led in his career.  The 1,345 laps led is the most of any driver that has raced at PIR.

Additionally, Harvick has won four of the last five races and five of the last seven races held at Phoenix International Raceway. In his quest for the 2014 Sprint Cup championship, Harvick led 264 of the scheduled 312 laps, won the race, and guaranteed himself a spot in the final four at Homestead where he ultimately won the race and the Sprint Cup championship.

So as a review, if you have any questions about who may be in the hunt Sunday for the victory, you most definitely should keep your eyes on the driver of the Stewart Haas Racing No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevy, Kevin Harvick.

In fact I would go one step further and encourage you to select Kevin Harvick for your fantasy league pick! However, if you are a betting man/woman you might want to mortgage the house and cars, or bet the farm on Harvick this weekend.  I say that with some sense of confidence that the odds are definitely in your favor!

So if you get my jest, I am saying that Kevin Harvick has a very good chance of punching his ticket through to the Chase this weekend.