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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Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”