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Brian Vickers! Yes! But several title contenders get dusted badly in Sunday's Michigan 400

  Brian Vickers at the line, with everyone else in his dust (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   BROOKLYN, Mich.
   Toyota's Brian Vickers played gas mileage perfectly and passed Jimmie Johnson with two laps to go to win Sunday's Michigan 400, on a warm, muggy afternoon where fuel mileage strategies went awry for too many drivers and shook up the race to NASCAR's championship playoffs.
    But it was a bad day for many Sprint Cup title contenders, several saved only by tour leader Tony Stewart having an off day and struggling in 17th.
   Vickers and Johnson, along with several others, gambled on stretching fuel, and Johnson wasn't the only loser. Johnson ran out and had to pit with two to go, and finished 33rd.
   "We've gone through so many down times together, this is great," Vickers said.
   "I think it's too risky for us to try it," Johnson said of gambling on stretching fuel. "We did it once at Phoenix, but that's the only time.
  "We just have a lot of power under the hood, and that sucks up fuel."
   Mark Martin took a big hit in the points when he ran out the last lap; he had been running as high as third late but then slowed and slowed, to conserve fuel, in vain, finishing 31st.
   Kyle Busch also took another hit in his bid to make the playoffs, with just an off-day. He wound up a dismal 23rd and was never in the hunt.
   Also taking a hit was playoff contender Juan Pablo Montoya, who lost a lap when he had to make a green flag pit stop after cutting a left-rear tire down while running in heavy traffic. Montoya came home 23rd.
    But the day was a successful for Dale Earnhardt Jr. "I don't want to get too excited, because you want to run up front like this every week," Earnhardt said. "We're working really hard, and we're getting better. I've never worked so hard for a third."
    Earnhardt, third, appeared to have a great shot to win – which would have been his first win since June 2008 (here in a gas mileage finish) – and win straight up, without tricks, down the stretch. He wound up just behind teammate Jeff Gordon.
    "I was trying to catch them, and we were the fastest car until we got within 15 car lengths of Jeff," Earnhardt said. "But then I started sliding the nose too much in the corners.
   "Jeff and I knew we didn't have a real good shot at catching them.
   "And Brian was pushing Jimmie probably a lot harder than Jimmie really wanted."

  Crew chief Ryan Pemberton had things just perfect for Brian Vickers in Sunday's Michigan 400 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

I am tired of gas mileage

I am tired of gas mileage racing. Split these Michigan events into segments like the All Star event and make sure everyone has what they need for the last segment as far as tires and gas is concerned and then let them have at it.

You and me both. It's stupid,

You and me both. It's stupid, because it hurt Martin's chances at making the chase. Once again this year, he gets horrible luck. He's not losing points because of driving skill but [bad] luck. Yes, in nascar there should be luck, but not this much. Especially, since its determining someone's shot at a championship! If it wasn't for bad luck this year, Martin wouldn't have any luck at all. But Michigan sells, and had one of the bigger stands in nascar. They will stay with 2 events.

Michigan deserves to stay

Michigan deserves to stay with two events - it's the short tracks and the road courses that need to be axed or cut to one apiece. As far as fuel mileage goes, throw a mandatory fuel-stop competition caution in the final 30 laps.

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The 88 had tires and gas

The 88 had tires and gas going into the last laps. Think Papa Rick wanted to make sure the 24 got them maximum number of points and had the 88 fall in behind?

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