A year ago in the Irish Hills of Michigan, “Junior Nation” erupted as their man got the monkey off his back.
It’s amazing how fast time flies, because another year has already passed since Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last win at Michigan International Speedway.
That win snapped a 143-race winless drought, dating back to, you guessed it, Michigan once again. That win in June 2008 broke a 76-race winless stretch.
It’s been a consistent season for Earnhardt, who has four top-fives and nine top-10 finishes in 14 races thus far. He currently stands fourth in the standings after one of his best races of the season, this past weekend at Pocono.
Earnhardt is one of four drivers currently in the top 10 without a win. While it certainly isn’t a guarantee that a win will secure a spot in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, a win would go a long way towards solidifying his place. He has a 59-point gap ahead of 10th place.
If the on-track performance hasn’t been an issue this year, one lingering cloud over his and the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team’s head is a yet-unfulfilled sponsorship roster for the rest of the season. It currently has support from the National Guard and Diet Mountain Dew.
It seems hard to fathom that NASCAR’s longtime Most Popular Driver would have races to sell, but according to the Charlotte Observer, there are still 13 unsold races. Per Rick Hendrick’s comments to the Observer, those races are close to being filled in.
“I’ve not been worried about it because we could sell it if we wanted to piecemeal it. We’ve been looking for the future,” Hendrick told the Charlotte Observer. “We don’t want to get into (sponsor relationships) where you see somebody one time and you don’t seem them anymore after that.”
At Michigan this week, Dale Jr. will run the National Guard “Man of Steel” colors.
Adam Cianciarulo sweeps to second straight Pro Motocross 450 win
Adam Cianciarulo (450) and Dylan Ferrandis (250) swept both motos of their divisions Saturday in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship event at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota, significantly impacting the points standings.
“Man, what a dream come true,” Cianciarulo said. “I really wanted to go 1-1 last round at RedBud and had that silly mistake. Today, we got the job done and made it happen. Two consecutive victories in the 450 Class just feels really good. I just want to keep the ball rolling.”
With three rounds remaining, Cianciarulo is ranked second in the standings at a 15-point deficit to Zach Osborne, who won three of the first five rounds.
In the 250 standings, Dylan Ferrandis jumped ahead of Jeremy Martin (who won three consecutive events earlier in the season) by three points (257-254).
Ferrandis beat third-ranked RJ Hampshire in the first moto and nipping Martin by 0.4 seconds in the second.
“That was a difficult race in the second moto and the pressure was on,” Ferrandis said. “It was really good for me to have that battle and come out on top in the second moto. The championship is really close and I think that we were able to put on a good show for everyone today. Jeremy [Martin] and I have a good relationship I think and we congratulated each other and talked about the battle after the race.”
NEXT: The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will hold its seventh round Sept. 26 with the Geico Motorcycle WW Ranch National at Jacksonville, Florida.
Thor Spring Creek National (Spring Creek MX Park, Millville, Minnesota)
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (1-1)
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (2-2)
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha (5-4)
Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (8-3)
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (6-5)
Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (3-10)
Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda (7-6)
Joey Savatgy, , Suzuki (9-7)
Max Anstie, United Kingdom, Suzuki (10-8)
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (4-16)
450 Class Championship Standings
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 235
Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 220
Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 215
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 196
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 194
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 190
Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 173
Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda – 141
Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha – 134
Joey Savatgy, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki – 122
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-1)
Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (5-2)
Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki (4-4)
Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (3-6)
Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (9-3)