– NASCAR Wire Service –
June 14, 2012 – The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ is three months and 12 races into the future but the jockeying has begun for the No. 1 seeding when the standings are reset for the post season.
Matt Kenseth held the advantage with three early victories. Now he’s got a companion in fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who recorded his third win of the year on Sunday at Pocono Raceway. Each win is worth three bonus points when the Chase begins in mid-September.
The scene now shifts to Michigan International Speedway, where Kenseth has won and Johnson has not. Johnson, however, has led the most laps at the two-mile track over the past eight seasons and finished second in 2011.
Both competitors probably should be looking in their mirrors at the progress of Tony Stewart, who has gone from outside the top 20 and Chase eligibility to 13th place in just three races. Stewart, holding a potential Chase Wild Card with his Dover victory, is 17 points out of the top 10.
Michigan’s Quicken Loans 400 celebrates the anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s dramatic victory that broke a four-year winless streak. Earnhardt finished third at Pocono, posting his first top five since late March.
Roush Fenway Racing this weekend visits its home turf where Greg Biffle gave the organization its record-breaking 12th NASCAR Sprint Cup victory last August.
Ford Motor Company goes into the weekend in pursuit of its 1,000th NASCAR national series victory. The automaker won for the 200th time in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition on Sunday at Iowa Speedway.
An Iowa victory – his second in the NASCAR Nationwide Series – was a late wedding gift for Trevor Bayne and new bride Ashton, who’d celebrated their vows earlier in the week.
Austin Dillon rides a record-matching three consecutive Coors Light Pole Awards into Michigan. Bayne, who passed Dillon for the Iowa victory, is one of six drivers who share the pole record.
Among NASCAR’s fathers and sons who’ll celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday are Ward and Jeb Burton. The younger Burton – with his Daytona 500-winning father on the spotter’s stand – won last weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The Quicken Loans 400 begins at 1pm edt. on Sunday. The TV Broadcast airs on TNT.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images/NASCAR Media