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Race 24: Michigan

Posted by Amy in General | NASCAR

#SmokeWillRise adorns the area over the driver door on the #14 Mobil 1 Chevy driven by Austin Dillon in Stewart’s absence at Michigan. (Photo credit: Tony Stewart Facebook page- Click pic to be taken to the original)

I am not surprised that a Ford won at Michigan- it seems that a Ford almost ALWAYS wins at Michigan- before Logano the previous winner of the last two races at Michigan was Ford driver Greg Biffle- see what I mean.

What I am surprised with about the Michigan race? Austin Dillon’s performance in the 14 car!  I know I know- I am biased, BUT I wasn’t sure about Austin Dillon as a choice to run MI.  After all he has little cup car experience.  When Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted out the picture of the yellow rookie stripe on the back of the 14 car I cringed and thought to myself quietly- “this could get ugly” and I fretted a bit.  But then I started seeing practice times. They weren’t that bad all things considered, so I had a little hope.  But then I saw qualifying and was all “eh…that wasn’t so great. Damn rookie.” Yeah I said it…deal with it. Then I saw the results of final practice and was duly impressed. Hmm maybe I misjudged Austin Dillon’s chances (and talents) after all.

Austin Dillon at Michigan

Austin Dillon at Michigan as the interim driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevy. (Photo Credit: The Stewart-Haas Racing Facebook page- click photo for original).

The performance during the race confirmed that I had indeed misjudged Austin Dillon’s seat in the 14.  Sure there were “mistakes” – the biggest one being the spin that Austin said in the post race team release was his fault:

Going into it, I knew I needed to stay calm and take my time because it was 200 laps, and then we’re wrecked before we even get to lap 20. I just made a big mistake. It happens when you’re out there racing hard and just trying to give it your all. I knew the car was fast. I was just trying to get too much, too early.- Austin Dillon, per SHR Mobil 1 Team Release.

Sounds like it was a “rookie” mistake but he is a rookie so really no harm- no foul. Especially considering how well and hard Austin and the entire 14 team worked to move up the field- coming back from a lap down to finish 14th.  That was a great effort. Bob and Austin and Steve all seemed to work well together. I was even impressed when Austin came over and told Bob to tell Danica she needed to change her line or she’d wreck. He also made sure that Bob told the 17 crew that he had a tire going down. All in all I thought Austin did a GREAT job and I was really impressed.

Notes about Michigan:

1.I am pretty sure that while I was listening to Austin’s scanner chatter during the race- that I heard Max Papis say something to him. I didn’t quite catch it but I am nearly positive now judging by the picture below. I think that is AWESOME that Max was there to provide mentoring and support to Austin and the #14 team!

Max Papis and Austin Dillon at Michigan

Max Papis and Austin Dillon at Michigan. (Photo Credit: Stewart-Haas Racing Facebook- click picture to be taken to the original).

2. Mark Martin will be Tony’s interim driver for the rest of the season- with the exception of Talladega- where we will again see Austin Dillon behind the wheel of the #14 Chevy. Stewart-Haas also used the opportunity that Tony Stewart will be out of the car the rest of the 2013 season. I am not surprised- broken legs don’t heal overnight and while I completely understand this, I still miss MY driver being in the car…sigh.

3. Michigan sure was hard on the HMS drivers wasn’t it? Dale Jr seemed quite upset and blamed the tire (reminded me of Tony and his anti-Goodyear tirade of yore). Jimmie had a major engine issue.

5. Another driver that Michigan was hard on was Kyle Busch- who caused not one but two of the cautions. Yet he was still able to find the irony in the fact that the Joe Gibbs Racing cars had Kasey Kahne surrounded at one point in the race. Love that!

5. A rumor that surfaced is that Kurt Busch will be driving for SHR in 2014 in a fourth car. This one I am a little more surprised about only because why would SHR dump Ryan Newman only to add another driver? Unless, of course, that driver is coming over fully funded.  I have not heard anything about Kurt being fully funded- who would that sponsor be? It does NOT surprise me that it is Kurt Busch though. Not only has Kurt Busch been driving rather well in an underfunded team this season but this rumor made the rounds a couple years ago. Before Stewart-Haas brought on Danica in the third team- there were some rumors that Kurt was going to be in that third seat.  I personally think that Kurt would be a GOOD match for SHR but apparently I am in the minority with that.  I guess only time will tell. It’s all silly season speculation until we hear it for certain- and of course it could be months before there are any official announcements. I guess we can say that silly season is in full swing.

6. Speaking of silly season rumors I am surprised I am not hearing more Ryan Newman to the 42 speculation…afterall it’s a chevy.  Why are Misty, Kevin and I the only ones who see this?

7. Here is a great video from Mobil 1 on Team #14 spotter Bob Jeffrey (@eyeinthesky14):

Next week we are racing at one of my favorite tracks to watch: BRISTOL!

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