Brooklyn, MI (Sports Network) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended a four-year winless streak in the Sprint Cup Series by taking Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Earnhardt Jr., whose last victory in the series came at Michigan in June 2008, led the most laps with 96 in Sunday's 400-mile race, which was delayed nearly two hours due to rain earlier in the day.
To the crowd's delight, Earnhardt Jr. crossed the finish line 5.4 seconds ahead of defending series champion Tony Stewart for his 19th career victory but his first in 143 races.
"I don't know what to say," Earnhardt Jr. said over his team radio after he took the checkered flag.
Earnhardt Jr. has been voted the most popular driver in NASCAR's premier series the past nine years.
Matt Kenseth finished third and remained the points leader, but Earnhardt Jr. moved to within four points of Kenseth.
Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five.
There were no major issues with the tires used for this race. After several teams experienced tire blistering during Thursday and Friday's practice sessions at this newly repaved two-mile racetrack, NASCAR and Goodyear made the decision to use a tougher left-side tire for the race. The higher than expected speeds in practice at Michigan caused significantly higher left-side tire temperatures and therefore blistering.
An additional Sprint Cup practice session was held on Saturday evening at Michigan. Teams had 75 minutes to familiarize themselves with the new tires and make further adjustments to their race setups.
Earnhardt Jr. was one of the drivers who was limited on his practice time due to engine concerns. He complained that his car wasn't as good as he wanted it to be after completing 26 laps in practice. He also said, "This ain't cool," in regards to the added session.
The Sports Network