Jeff Kerr

Michigan proves bittersweet for Hendrick Motorsports

Posted June 20, 2012

It was a bittersweet day for the Farmers Insurance team this weekend in Michigan. Bitter because we were caught up in another accident, but all too sweet because our teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., drove away from the competition by a straightaway to win his first race in over four years.

One of the greatest things about the whole race was watching the fans stand up and cheer when Dale Jr. crossed the finish line. I haven’t heard fans get that loud in a long time, especially at a race won in such dominant fashion. Normally when a driver laps half the field it makes for a boring race, but it’s different when the sport’s most popular driver simply outclasses the competition.

The “Dew Crew” did an outstanding job keeping up with the changes on the track and maintaining a solid focus when they really needed it. On pit road there is no greater pressure than knowing you hold Dale Jr.’s fate in your hands. His fans are some of the most sincere in this sport, and they will never let you forget it if you are the one that lets their driver down. All that pressure must be subdued to maintain the precision and focus needed to complete a competitive pit stop in a race against the best pit crews in the world. I’m sure those guys will cherish their accomplishment for a long time.

One of the lesser-known gestures after a victory takes place on pit road: teammates of the winning crew will pack up the winner’s pit box. We do this is out of respect and congratulations for our teammates, but it also helps us all get home to our families sooner. Deep down we are all competitors, even in the race to get the best seats on the plane home. But when the day is done, we all understand the hard work and effort that goes into a victory, and the mutual respect is always there.

Next week we are headed west to wine country in Sonoma, Calif. This is where we race one of the two road courses on the circuit. Personally, I enjoy going to this race because of the Ghirardelli chocolate factory and great seafood on Fisherman’s Wharf. Through some personal contacts of mine, I’ve been able to tour San Quentin State Prison and see the giant sequoia trees. This year, I’m planning a trip to the San Francisco 49ers practice facility to see a former East Carolina Pirate who happens to be their equipment manager. Kasey is also a past winner at Sonoma, so hopefully we can return the Farmers Chevrolet to Victory Lane and continue Hendrick Motorsports’ dominance.

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