Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Backseat Drivers Fan Council

Junior's title hopes, grading Michigan and road racing in Sonoma
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<p> The Backseat Drivers Fan Council wieghs in on Dale Earnahrdt Jr.'s championship hopes, his win at Michigan and road course racing at Infineon and Watkins Glen.</p>
2012

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s victory celebration is long over and now it’s time to look ahead. Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council were asked to look ahead on what Earnhardt’s victory means related to the title race and at this weekend’s race — the first race on a road course this season. Of course, members did have time to look back at Michigan and give that race a grade.

Here’s what members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council had to say:

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

At Long Last, the Son Rises
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<p> Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally ascends to the top of Athlon Sports' Horsepower Rankings after breaking a 143-race winless skid with a victory at Michigan International Speedway.</p>
2012

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
We’ve said all along that Earnhardt’s consistency warranted the top spot, but a lack of any wins kept him from it. Well, the 143-race national nightmare is over, and Junior can now lead the way.

2. Jimmie Johnson
Replace the engine and start in the rear of the field? No problem for Chad Knaus and crew. They just handed the ball to J.J., who drove it to a fifth-place finish with blistered tires and an empty gas tank.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins in Michigan

Earnhardt breaks winless skid, answers questions
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<p> Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke a 143-race winless skid by visiting Victory Lane in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.</p>
2012

Four years and 143 races. That’s how long it had been since NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., had won a Sprint Cup Series race.

Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Michigan

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.</p>
2012

From the mountains of Pennsylvania to the rolling hills of Michigan, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400.

Racing on yet another repaved track, teams have two test sessions throughout the day on Thursday as they attempt to get acclimated with the new track surface, the higher speeds and how tires will react.

Joey Logano Wins at Pocono

Logano scores second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory
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<p> Joey Logano got by Mark Martin to win his first race of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pocono 400.</p>
2012

Of all the race tracks to add a little spice to the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Pocono Raceway was not expected to be it. A 2.5-mile, flat tri-oval that’s seen its share of strung-out racing, the speedway was also recently repaved — a move that doesn’t lend itself to door-banging action.

Sometimes, though, the racing gods smile on the fans when and where they least expect it.

Repaves, Suspensions, Preludes and NASCAR on TNT

The Long and Short of It
<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long talks Prelude to the Dream, the Pocono repave, Kurt Busch's suspension and Joey Logano's contract.</p> <p> <br /> <br />  </p>
2012

It’s rare that most NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will agree on something, but many share similar opinions of what it will be like this weekend to race on Pocono’s newly repaved surface.

“I am nervous as can be ... because I have no idea what to expect,” points leader Greg Biffle said, a comment echoed by others.

NASCAR is giving teams two extra days at the track with testing Wednesday and Thursday. Thus, Cup teams will be there five days.

Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Dover

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's FedEx 400
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's FedEx 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.</p>
2012

The two-week homestretch in Charlotte is now in the books and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the Monster Mile in Dover, Del., for Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.

Not only is Dover one of the most demanding tracks on the NASCAR schedule, it also kicks off the seven-week summer stretch that takes the series to the newly-repaved tracks of Pocono and Michigan, the road course in Sonoma, night races at Kentucky and Daytona, then to New Hampshire before another break in the action.

Truex's Future, Newman's Style and Earnhardt's Consistency

The Long and Short of It
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<p> Following Kasey Kahne's win in the Coca-Cola 500, Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.</p>
2012

With Toyota extending it’s deal with Michael Waltrip Racing, along with Joe Gibbs Racing and JTG Daugherty, it leads to the question of what will happen to Martin Truex Jr., who is in the final year of his contract at MWR.

Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Charlotte

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.</p>
2012

A happy Memorial Day weekend to all the fantasy NASCAR racers out there. This week it’s the most demanding 600 miles on the schedule, the prestigious Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The annual tradition dating back to 1960 tests the best of driver, equipment and team. Coming one week after the All-Star Race, the Coke 600 also marks the next phase of the NASCAR season.

Jimmie Johnson Dominates NASCAR All-Star Race

Strategy, speed, execution propel Team 48 to win
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<p> Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus put together winning strategy to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race in Charlotte.</p>
2012

Prior to Jimmie Johnson’s win in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on May 12, it seemed Hendrick Motorsports would never get that elusive 200th Cup win. Its 16-race slide in between wins was relative in NASCAR terms, but for an organization lugging around tractor trailer loads of “200 Wins” caps and assorted other merchandise, it was time to hit the milestone and move on.

It turns out, moving on is just what Hendrick Motorsports has done.

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