Feud Of The Week: Junior Nation Vs. The Racing Gods
The heavens were aligned perfectly for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
And Junior Nation had a powerful notion that Earnhardt would be back in victory lane for sure.
Consider the following:
- The race was at MIS, where Earnhardt Jr.'s last two NASCAR Sprint Cup victories came.
- The race was on Father's Day, as were his two most recent victories.
- He was driving a superhero-themed car, as he was in his last victory.
- He was the defending event winner; and
- This was the 88th Sprint Cup race to be run at the 2-mile Michigan track.
Add it all up and it had to be Junior's day, right?
From Lap 80 to Lap 127, Earnhardt Jr. led 34 laps.
And then, disaster.
When leading the race, Earnhardt suffered his second engine failure in four races and you could practically hear the sounds of fans sighing - or cursing - from coast to coast.
Earnhardt was probably more philosophical about it than his fans were.
"I'm just real proud of my team," he said. "I hate to run into trouble. They'll figure it out and we'll get it sorted and we'll be able to come back here and expect to run strong again. I just hate it. Hendrick Motorsports, they work harder than anyone in the business. They're the best company in the business and we ought to be out there running up front still, but we'll get it eventually."