Denny Hamlin finally earned his first win of 2011 Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Why did no one see this coming? He won here a year ago, and was second on his last visit to MIS. It was a team effort, as his Fed Ex crew had him up front after everyone pitted late in the going. Track position has proven to be everything for the last month in the Sprint Cup series. He who is out front, in 'clean' air, is hard to pass.
Hamlin's victory was reminiscent of Kevin Harvick's recent wins, as Hamlin came out of nowhere and only led eight laps. Hamlin now has a win and moved up to 9th in the point standings.
RFR was again strong on the intermediate tracks as Matt Kenseth was 2nd, Carl Edwards was 5th, and Greg Biffle led the most laps before a late-race green flag pit stop regulated him to 15th. Kyle Busch was 3rd. Paul Menard finished 4th, and Brian Vickers rebounded with his 10th place spot.
Juan Montoya ran out of gas, and tried to cut down from the high groove to pit road. Only one problem, JPM, Andy Lally was passing you on the inside. Montoya sliced the front clip off Lally's car, knocking the rookie from the race. Nice work by Montoya and his spotter! If the roles were reversed between Montoya and Lally, JPM would have thrown a Danica class tantrum.
The three JGR cars showed up with new oil pans that had not been approved by NASCAR. The pans were confiscated at the track, and the #11, #18, and #20 used the same pans they had used all year. The new oil pans were obviously heavier to compete with the new Ford engines which have a lower center of gravity. By not getting them approved, JGR has lost any competitive advantage they may have gained, as now Ford will also use a heavier pan and retain that lower center of gravity.
A lot of talk about how bad TNT's race coverage is. While admitting that lead announcer, Adam Alexander, is a local track reject, I prefer TNT's color analysts much more than those on Fox. Wally Dallenbach doesn't say much, which is much better than the goofs at Fox. And, unlike DW, Kyle Petty has great input on what is actually happening on the track.
As Kurt Busch was making sport of those who complain about his actions on the radio, Petty explained it perfectly. Petty related that while most thought that Kurt was being a 'horse's rear end', the fact is that "Kurt just wants to win so badly". I would rather hear the truth from Petty than DW's weekly talking points.