Halfway at Michigan, Jimmie Johnson leads race and Hendrick Motorsports domination

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BROOKLYN, Mich. – Hendrick Motorsports dominated the first half of Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson led 12 laps at the halfway mark (100 laps) of the 200-lap event on the high-speed, two-mile oval.

HMS teammates Jeff Gordon was third, having led 36 laps.

Seeking his second consecutive win and third race at MIS, Pocono winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was running fifth at the midpoint.

Joey Logano was the top Ford driver, running second at halfway, while pole sitter Kevin Harvick also led 36 laps early on and was scored fourth at halfway.

Sixth through 10th at 100 laps were Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson and Saturday’s winner in the Nationwide Series race, Paul Menard.

Closing in on the halfway point, Kyle Busch suffered a broken left rear hub and was expected to miss about a half-hour of the race until repairs could be made. However, his team was extremely quick and had Busch back on track by Lap 107.

The start of the race was quite unusual, with two wrecks in the first seven laps.

In the first incident, Michael Waltrip Racing driver Brian Vickers lost control coming off Turn 4 on the first lap and hit the wall, eventually collecting Travis Kvapil, who could not avoid Vickers’ car.

Then, six laps later, Larson lost control and spun, collecting Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. in the process. All three cars suffered minor damage and were able to get back into the race after repairs on their respective rides.

Speculation as to what may have contributed to both wrecks was the track was slippery in the early going.

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Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”