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DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is preparing to recall about 33,000 Chevrolet Cruze compact cars because the air bags might not inflate properly in a crash. Spokesman Jim Cain says the cars were built with an incorrect part made by Japanese supplier Takata Corp. But he says the problem is different from another issue with Takata air bags that is affecting much of the auto industry. The recall could come as early as Friday. It affects some 2013 and 2014 Cruzes. GM on Wednesday told dealers to stop selling Cruzes until it figured out the problem. But Cain says the stop-sale order was lifted for most Cruzes later that day. He didn't know if it cost GM any sales. The Cruze is built in Lordstown, Ohio, and is GM's top-selling car.

(DETROIT) -- J.D. Power released their list of vehicles that received the highest quality awards during the Automotive Press Association luncheon at the Detroit Athletic Club Wednesday, June 18, 2014. During the 2014 U.S. Initial Quality Study, the Chevrolet Malibu was highest ranked in the Midsize Car category over the Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry. In the Midsize Sporty Car category, the Dodge Challenger was highest ranked over the Chevrolet Camaro. Other findings....

Compact SUV
Highest Ranked: GMC Terrain
Chevrolet Equinox
Toyota FJ Cruiser

Midsize SUV
Highest Ranked: Ford Edge
Hyundai Santa Fe & Nissan Murano (tie)

Midsize Premium SUV
Highest Ranked: Lincoln MKX
Porsche Cayenne
Infiniti QX70

Minivan
Highest Ranked: Chrysler Town & Country
Toyota Sienna
Dodge Grand Caravan

Large SUV
Highest Ranked: Chevrolet Suburban & GMC Yukon (tie)
Chevrolet Tahoe

Large Light Duty Pickup
Highest Ranked: Ford F-150 LD
Toyota Tundra
Ram 1500 LD

Large Heavy Duty Pickup
Highest Ranked: Chevrolet Silverado HD
GMC Sierra HD

GBV & GB

PICTURED: Richard Childress with Hunter Gandee and his brother Braden. Hunter finished a 40-mile walk from Temperance to Ann Arbor recently to raise awareness for cerebral palsy by carrying Braden the entire way. Richard Childress is the car owner of Paul Menard who won the Saturday Ollie's Bargain Outlet 250 race. He also is the owner of Ryan Newman and Austin Dillion cars.

ROBERT BENKO

(BROOKLYN) -- Tight end Eric Ebron served as the Grand Marshal for the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, June 15. Ebron was drafted by the Lions last month. Reports say that despite growing up in the NASCAR hotbed of North Carolina, Ebron said he had only been to a race once before. And that experience as a spectator was much different than the one he enjoyed on Sunday.

“This is my first NASCAR race being a part of, so now I get to experience something different,” Ebron said before the event. “Maybe when I’m in North Carolina and Charlotte Motor Speedway, I’ll go to it because I know how fun and exciting it can be.”

ROBERT BENKO

(BROOKLYN, MI) -- Ricky Stenhouse, driver of the #17 EcoPower Ford Fusion, and car owner Jack Roush participated in a press conference Friday, June 13, announcing their involvement with EcoPower re-refined motor oil, produced by Safety-Kleen.

When asked how he would assess the season to date, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. said, "We're always expected to do well. Jack is always expecting us to do well and we expect ourselves to do well. This season we've has some high points and we've definitely has some low points. Last weekend, we got a decent finish at Pocono. The last two races at Michigan in the Cup car last year, we had to 10's going and we blew a right-front tire in the first race and got caught on pit road when the caution came out in the second race, so I feel at Michigan we've got some speed and Jack is the winningest car owner here. " Jack Roush said in response to a question on the increased speed putting more strain on components and parts, "With today's electronically-controlled dynamometers, you've got the opportunity to replicate the duty cycle for an engine on the race track. Doug Yates's most arduous and toughest duty cycles is the Michigan cycle. When I was building the engines in Michigan by myself, that was the cycle I used as well, so if you've got a weakness in your engine, you'll find it a MIS. Either the valvetrain or the bottom end, either one, it's pretty tough."

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 15, 2014) – Jimmie Johnson was in the lead and holding his breath, not because of daunting competition, mechanical implications or tire issues. No, it was because this was at Michigan International Speedway where the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion has been very competitive but has had nothing significant to show for it.

But MIS finally got scratched off the short list of five Sprint Cup tracks Johnson had yet to post a win. On Sunday he garnered his 69th career Sprint Cup triumph and first in the Irish Hills in the Quicken Loans 400.

It took 25 attempts, peppered with bunches of near misses, before Johnson racked up his series-leading third victory this season at the track that has rebuffed him for a myriad of reasons. He has had fuel issue shortages four times while in a strong position to triumph at MIS, and on three other occasions experienced engine failures when the finish line was just up the road a piece.

“We’ve figured every way to lose this race but today we were able to get it done,” Johnson said after his 450th Sprint Cup Series race.

“We had a good lead so that allowed me to take care of my stuff,” Johnson said. “With 10 laps to go I’ve been sitting here before with the lead. With five to go I’ve been there before and didn’t win. I’ve taken the white flag and didn’t make it back (to the finish line). I wasn’t taking anything for granted on that final trip around the track. About 200 yards before the finish line I knew that if the car exploded I’d still slide across the finish line and it wouldn’t matter. That’s finally when I relaxed and let it go.”

It was Hendrick Motorsports’ fifth consecutive victory, the third time it has accomplished the feat, with Johnson winning three of the last four Sprint Car Series races.

Johnson’s margin of victory was a strong 1.214 seconds over runner-up Kevin Harvick, who was followed by Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Harvick led a race-high 63 laps, but got caught in a strategy battle concerning tires and fuel in the latter stages of the race that didn‘t go his way, but still managed to post his 11th top-10 finish in 27 races at MIS. It was his seventh top-10 finish this season.

“I mean the car was fast, we just wound up on the wrong side of the strategy,” Harvick said. “We finished second and that’s it.”

The crucial strategy for Johnson came with 35 laps remaining when crew chief Chad Knaus called his driver in under green-flag conditions for a four-tire change when two-tire changes appearing to be a more popular option for better track position.

Johnson left the pits in 16th place, but all of his closest competitors had yet to pit for a final time. They took two tires and sometimes none, just topping off their fuel tanks, but it allowed Johnson to pass all of them and take the lead for good with nine laps remaining.

“We were really in a win-win situation because all of those other guys had to go to pit road to make it to the end,” Johnson stated. “Once I got an idea of how the race was unfolding I knew we were in the catbirds seat and we were able to take advantage of it.”

Knaus said he knew there were going to be opportunities to play the strategy game Sunday.

“We also knew we had a fast race car and you could maybe overcome strategy that maybe somebody else would play,” he added. “We were fortunate enough to have a very fast race car and hit the strategy correct at the right time, and obviously put it all together for a solid run.”

PHOTOS BY ROBERT BENKO

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 13, 2014) –Kevin Harvick won the pole for the Quicken Loans 400 with a track record speed of 204.557 miles per hour. He easily surpassed the former record of 203.949 mph established by Joey Logano in preparation for the Pure Michigan 400 last August at MIS.

“Obviously it was a really fast lap, a really fast couple of laps,” Harvick said. “But the car has been really good since we unloaded it off the truck and these guys put fast cars on the track every week and then we’ve been in contention for poles and wins every week. Today it just all came together from the time we unloaded. I’m just really proud of my guys and everybody at the Hendrick engine shop and on these big race tracks when you have fast cars, speed makes the driver’s job a lot easier. So, it’s been a good weekend so far.”

Harvick’s speed is the fastest pole-winning speed since April of 1987, when Bill Elliott set the all-time qualifying record of 212.809 mph at Talladega Superspeedway.

Fans at MIS experienced the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s new qualifying procedures with the three rounds segment sponsored by Bandit Chippers, a Michigan-based manufacturer of wood processing equipment that has nearly double its workforce and sales volume over the past few years.

In the first qualifying session, all the drivers were on the track for 25 minutes with the top 24 in speed advancing to a second 10- minute segment. Those top 12 drivers then advanced to the final five-minute session for the final pole qualifying attempt.

Harvick led all three sessions, setting the record in the third session.

He was followed by Jeff Gordon at 203.776 miles per hour, Dale Earnhardt at 203.729, Aric Almirola at 203.200 and Paul Menard at 203.040.

Juan Pablo Montoya, driving for Roger Penske in one of two NASCAR appearances this season after switching back to IndyCar at the start of last season, is a proponent of the new system as are most of the Sprint Cup drivers.

“I think it’s a great thing because the tires are really consistent, so it I screw up I’ll get another shot,” he said. “The way it was before, if your car was good, it was really good. If you missed it, you were screwed. Here, this gives you a little extra chance to get it done.”

Michigan continues to be still the fastest track on the circuit with 20 drivers exceeding the 200 mile per hour mark.

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 14, 2014) – How could Paul Menard not be pumped Saturday after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 250 at Michigan International Speedway? Menard had a fast race car all weekend and found good luck at the end to win for the second time in 184 NASCAR Nationwide races.

Kyle Busch started on the pole after setting a record with a qualifying mark of 193.242 MPH, eclipsing the previous mark of 191.682 MPH established by Austin Dillon last year.

It appeared Joey Logano was on his way to victory nursing a lead with four laps remaining when he suffered a flat tire. That allowed Menard to take the lead, Sam Hornish Jr., from nearby Defiance, Ohio, to move up to second place and complete a somewhat remarkable comeback and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., also the victim of a flattening tire, to recover for a third-place finish.

“I was trying to run Joey down at the end and we were closing a little bit but we weren’t going to get him,” Menard said. “I thought the best car was going to finish second again. We had that happen to us a couple of times last year.

“I don‘t know what happened to Joey. I guess he had a flat tire and the best car won today. I hate to wish bad luck on Joey, but we’ll take it.”

The victory ended Menard’s 98-start Nationwide winless streak, dating back to June 24, 2006 (Milwaukee). Menard will start fifth in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at MIS, schedule to begin at 1 p.m.

Logano took the lead on lap 81 and appeared on the verge of victory when his tire expired.

“Once I got clean air I was able to pull away,” Logano said. “The 33 (Menard) was quick and had a fast race car also. We were going to have a race because he was catching me a little.

“I hate to give them away like that. You look at the silver lining. I guess we had a fast race car and should have won the race. You win some this way and you lose some this way.”

Earnhardt never led, but was running a strong second with 25 laps remaining in the 125-lap race when his left front tire started to lose air.

“We weren’t very good at the start of the race, maybe a fifth or eighth-place car, but we made some real good adjustments and on our last run I felt real good, but then we ran over something between turns three and four and it cut a hole in the left front tire,” Earnhardt said. “It was going flat there near the end.”

Hornish, competing in only his third Nationwide race this season for Joe Gibbs Racing, rallied from a spinout on only the second lap of the race to bring out the caution flag and send Hornish to the pits for quick repairs.

“The best thing for us was to be in heavy traffic toward the back and then we were able to work our way forward,” said Hornish. “We were running down the 22 (Logano) but we were running out of time. We (including Earnhardt) both gained an extra spot when Lagono had to pit at the end. I’ve had the same thing happen to me before. You just have to take them the way you can get them.”

PHOTOS BY ROBERT BENKO

 

 

 

(DETROIT) -- John Murphy, Senior Auto Analyst for Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research spoke on the U.S. automotive product pipeline: Car Wars 2015-2018 during an Automotive Press Association Luncheon Monday, June 9 in Detroit. Car Wars is an annual proprietary study that assesses the relative strength of each automaker's product pipeline in the U.S. Murphy stated that the company believes that replacement rate drives showroom age, which drives market share, which drives profits and stock prices. The Bank of America Merrill Lunch Global Research report outlined ten key findings in their study.

1. Product replacement rate and showroom age drive market share shifts.
2. Product activity is picking up across the board. This is consistent with a cyclical recovery and should support US auto demand and industry-wide profits.
3. New vehicle introductions are overweight the Light Truck and CUV segments. This should drive a positive mix shift in MY2015-MY2018 and industry profits.
4. Convergence of product cycles continues at the larger OEMs, especially in MY2017-2018. However, there is some volatility in MY2015-MY2016.
5. GM product launches for MY2015-2017 should support solid market share and pricing, but there is risk and opportunity in MY2018 and beyond.
6. Ford's solid product cadence remains high and should drive higher market share and sustained pricing, as the company leverages its global platforms.
7. Chrysler's launch cadence is slow in MY2015-2016, but picks up materially in MY2017-2018. This should be enough to support market share, but appears far short of driving the targeted 4 points of share gains.
8. Honda leads the Japanese OEMs and is likely to gain share. Toyota slightly lags in refresh rate, but a focus on Lexus and key products should be an offset. Other Japanese OEMs including Nissan are at risk of market share losses.
9. Hyundai and Kia pick up the pace after a two year lull, which should be enough to stabilize market share. A concentration on cars creates some risk.
10. The success of suppliers and dealers should be correlated to exposure to OEMs with high replacement rates and low average showroom ages.

ROBERT BENKO

(GROSSE POINTE PARK) -- The vehicle categories for the 27th Annual EyesOn Design Automotive Design Exhibition were announced on Tuesday, June 10. The vehicle categories complement the 2014 theme: Automotive Design's Influence on Popular Culture. This year's theme is meant to evoke a nostalgic reflection about cars that have, through their design, affected the popular culture of their day. The car show will take place on Father's Day Sunday, June 15 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores.

Some of the vehicle on display will feature the 1928 Pontiac Big Six Sedan owned by Bill Schultz. 1928 was a pivotal year for this segment of the industry, as GM refreshed many of their Fisher bodies, Ford released its all new Model A and Chrysler started his empire by purchasing Dodge and creating Plymouth and Desoto. To showcase these timeless workhorses, EyesOn Design presents the "Working Class" of 1928, featuring many of these cars in their timeless splendor. This 1928 Pontiac Big Six Sedan is a prime example of a working man's family car. With its newly styled Fisher body and technological upgrades such as the first ever AC fuel pump and unique automatic spark control, it shows that indeed, 1928 was a big year for the auto industry.



1941 Harley Davidson WLC Motorcycle-This All American vintage motorcycle joins us from the recently-opened Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum in St. Clair Shores, Michigan to represent our Military Vehicles-from War Torn Roads to Off Road category. The fully restored example of an American classic military bike is a WLC model produced for Canada and Export applications in very limited numbers form 1941-1944. The "W" shows that this motorcycle is equipped with a 45 cubic inch, side valve engine, introduced in 1937 and first used on the Model W bikes. The letter "L" stands for High Compression, and the letter "C" indicates a model developed for the Canadian National Defense Forces. This motorcycle will be among a wide variety of military vehicles on display at the EyesOn Design show.



1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado-Owned by Ray and Melissa Arondoski represents Personal Luxury Cars-When Luxury Became Personal category. This Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado is newly redesigned and represents the top of the line for a General Motors personal luxury car for the 1971 model year. With a long list of standard features and the return of fender skirts, this example takes us back to a time when driving a Cadillac truly shoed that the owner had arrived. With a base price of $7,383 and a curb weight of 4,655 pounds, the Fleetwood Eldorado is powered by a massive 500 cubic inch engine producing 365 horsepower and an earth moving 535 ft. lbs. of torque.



1964 Mercury Parklane Convertible-Owned by Virginia Jedryczka is in one of the most exciting categories this year-1964 New York World's Fair 50th Anniversary display. This 1964 Mercury Parklane Convertible is one of the actual diplay cars, seen by over 50 million people. The fair is best remembered as a showcase of mid-20th century American culture and technology and the automakers jumped on the opportunity to show off their latest offerings. Being a top of the line model for Mercury, this Parklane Convertible is loaded with features and has been lovingly preserved by its owner. This car will be shown with nearly thirty 1964 model year cars from various manufacturers, along with a variety of New York World's Fair memorabilia.



ROBERT BENKO

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