Tag Archives: Jimmie Johnson

Kyle Busch Victory Secures Chase Spot

Article first published as Kyle Busch Victory Secures Chase Spot on Technorati.

Kyle Busch hammers out his first Michigan victory and becomes the only driver so far to secure spot in the Sprint Championship Chase. Busch held off defending champion Jimmie Johnson on a Green-White-Checkered restart for his first Michigan win.

“It’s awesome,” Busch said. “That’s what we wanted. We wanted to make sure that we could come out here and win races and have the opportunity to go for broke.” The victory was Busch’s fourth of the season and in the process denied Johnson the opportunity to go somewhere he’s never been — victory lane at Michigan.

Johnson settled for 2nd, a half second behind Busch. Brad Keselowski finished third, Mark Martin fourth and Ryan Newman took the five spot. Fifth through tenth – Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth.

With the win Busch guarantees, at worst, a wild-card berth in the Chase regardless of how he finishes the next three races, Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond. Coming into Michigan he shared the lead with co-front runner Carl Edwards who suffered early electrical problems and finished 36th. That misfortune relegated the Roush-Fenway driver to fourth in the standings.

Kyle Busch’s Joe Gibbs teammate, Denny Hamlin, had a slight altercation with the wall on lap 122 bringing out a caution, killing his hopes of improving his status in the Chase. Hamlin currently sits on the bubble for one of the wilid card spots. He has one win and sits in 14th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds on to the ninth spot with his lackluster 14th place finish.

NASCAR moves the show to Bristol, TN, for the Irwin Tools Night Race, next Saturday night on ABC.

Brad Keselowski Rides Broken Ankle to Victory Lane

Article first published as Brad Keselowski Rides Broken Ankle to Victory Lane on Technorati.

Over the race season victories begin to run together. Another driver – another checkered flag.

But every now and then a driver steps up and beyond a normal day at the track. Brad Keselowki won Sunday’s “Good Sam RV Insurance” 500 at Pocono with a broken ankle and a dogged determination.

After a lengthy rain delay, which kept cars off the track for an hour and forty minutes, Keselowski led the field on the lap 132 restart with Kurt Busch close by in second but faded to fourth. For the next several laps the Busch brothers ran one and two with Kurt out front.

On Lap 180, Kasey Kahne and Juan Montoya got together bringing out the last caution of the day.

In what turned out to be the gutsy call of the day, Keselowski stayed out on old tires and raced Kyle Busch on the restart with fifteen laps remaining. Even on old rubber the Keselowski machine seemed to easily maintain a comfortable lead and Busch never seriously challenged the young driver for the position.

At the finish it was Brad Keselowki for the win, Kyle Busch in second, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson traded paint on the last lap to settle third and fourth place respectively, without respect for each other. Ryan Newman rounded out the top five. Jeff GordonCarl EdwardsGreg BiffleDale Earnhardt Jr. and Paul Menard completed the top 10.

In the victory lane celebration, Keselowski kept it low-key minimizing his effort by saying, “I’m no hero. The heroes are the guys who died in Afghanistan this weekend. I want to spend time thinking about them. They’re my inspiration for this weekend, the things that those guys do.

“I’m glad that we could win today, but those are the heroes. I just drive race cars for a living.” Keselowski drove the US Navy sponsored car when he drove the Nationwide series.

With the victory, Keselowski helps his chances for one of the Wild Card positions for the ten race Chase for the Sprint cup. The 11th and 12th spots in the Chase this year can be grabbed by a driver in the 11th through 20th positions who has the most victories. The win today was his second of the season. Keselowski sits in the 18th slot.

The 9th for Dale junior was his first top ten in seven races. He still sits on the bubble in 10th, one point below 9th place Tony Stewart.With six more races to determine the Chase, look for drivers outside the top ten without a win to start taking chances. It’s crunch time and nobody knows that better than Brad Keselowski.

The NASCAR show moves to Watkins Glen next Sunday for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen, next Sunday.

Weirdo Wednesday – July 20, 2011

It’s a bit unusual that my NASCAR blog over at Technorati and my Weirdo Wednesday entry here would align in a collage of weirdness, yet here we are. This article first published as Weird Trophies of NASCAR on Technorati.

NASCAR Sprint Cup takes a rare week off as teams prepare for one of their biggest races of the season, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, July 31st.

With drivers off doing their thing, crew chiefs working on the cars and race fans readying for the run up to the Chase, finding something worthwhile to write about this week was a bit of a struggle. Then I came across the picture to the right.

Tony Stewart is no little guy but he more resembles one of Tolkien’s Hobbits standing beside this monstrosity. For winning the Bass Pro Shops 500 in 2006, this was his prize. Stewart was overheard telling his crew chief later, “I’m going to need a bigger mantle.”

NASCAR trophies through the years have run the gamut from the tiniest little brass gizmos with no character and little room for the drivers name, to some of the wildest, weirdest trophies in professional sports. Here is a quick look.

For winning a race at Martinsville the driver takes home one of the most sought after trophies in the sport – a Grandfather Clock.  Valued at over $11,000 the clock is the most coveted trophy in all of NASCAR. Everybody wants a clock and the checkered flag that comes with it.

After body-slamming their race-cars around the mile and a half track just a few miles north of the Las Vegas strip, it seems fitting the winner’s trophy looks more like a wrestling belt from the WWE.

Dover International Raceway is a treacherous one-mile concrete raceway located on Dover Downs Hotel & Casino property just north of Dover, DE. Somewhere along the way this speedway picked up the nickname, The Monster Mile for the beating it hands out over 500 laps of racing. It was only a matter of time before a trophy came along to reflect its personality. Rumor has it, Thing, of Fantastic Four fame, was the model for this monstrosity.

If there’s a rock and roll heaven, they should be lucky enough to have a mondo-trophy like the winner of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond receives. Now if only Alice Cooper would give up golf and take up racing.

Keeping with the guitar theme, winners of the Nationwide race at Nashville Superspeedway gets to take home this Sam Bass custom painted Gibson Guitar. (Nashville is Gibson’s headquarters.)

Carl Edwards looks like a playa!

It’s been said that everything is bigger in Texas, even their boots. The winners trophy from the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is this homage to Cowboy life. Handguns not included.

Win a race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA, and a bottle of Napa Valley’s finest blush awaits the driver in victory lane. Now that’s the way to chug a glass of wine.

Ryan Newman Races Boss to Checkered Flag

Article first published as Ryan Newman Races Boss to Checkered Flag on Technorati.

Ryan Newman lead the one-two punch, Stewart-Haas victory dance with his employer and teammate, Tony Stewart, a little better than 0.7 seconds behind. Newman ended a 47-race winless streak with the victory.

“One hell of a day boys — one hell of a day,” Stewart radioed to his team as he watched the checkered flag drop on his teammate. Newman posted his first victory of the season, his third at new Hampshire and the 15th of his career.

Denny Hamlin snagged third, followed by Joey Logano fourth and Jimmie Johnson close behind in fifth. Kasey KahneBobby LabonteMartin Truex Jr.Marcos Ambrose and Kurt Busch round out the top ten.

Kyle Busch started the day as the points leader but saw trouble on lap 50 when he blew a right front tire and crashed in turn two.

“Blew a bead,” Busch said, “Fastest car here — getting through the field pretty good and kind of the only guy passing guys, I guess, there. We made some big changes there on that pit stop.

“We came back and got four [tires] just to make sure we got all the changes we wanted to. Working our way up through there. Just blew a bead, I guess, transferring too much brake heat through the wheel.”

The M&Ms crew repaired the #18 Toyota and Kyle Busch returned to the race on Lap 134. He finished 36th and dropped four places in the Chase standings.

NFL Player vs. Jimmie Johnson

It seems Seattle Seahawks player Golden Nate has an issue with NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. A recent twitter exchange between the two went as follows:

Jimmy johnson up for best athlete???? Um nooo ..
Driving a car does not show athleticism. via Twitter for iPhone

Golden Tate


Jimmie Johnson’s response…

@showetimetate Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge).
Lucky 4 you, this can be fixed. Come to a race and be informed.

Jimmie Johnson

Ignorance is bliss. NFL players have plenty of time to be blissful these days.

Kyle Busch Night at Kentucky Speedway

Article first published as Kyle Busch Night at Kentucky Speedway on Technorati.

It may have been the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway but Las Vegas native Kyle Busch drove like he grew up there. He started on the pole and hovered around the top all night long. He led 125 of the 267 laps and became the first driver of the season to win from the pole.

Kyle Busch burnout

Unfortunately the most exciting part of this race was Kyle’s post race burnout. Other than the restart on lap 265 making it a two lap sprint to the finish, this race was about as titillating as a root canal. I’ve had more fun doing my taxes.

But that last minute or two was almost a nail-biter. Not so much as who was going to win. That was a given. The real drama played out behind Busch once he pulled away from second place Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch in third. David Reutiman poured on the steam and passed both Johnson and Kurt Busch to take second.

Kyle’s win was the second of the three Kentucky Speedway events over the weekend. He won the Camping World Truck Series race Thursday night. The strong finish in Saturday night’s race let the Joe Gibbs‘ driver leap-frog over Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards onto the top of the series leaderboard.

When asked about what it meant to get that first Kentucky win, Busch replied, “That I won on the way to Slinger. I’ve got to go to Slinger [Wisconson]. I’m going to stay here tonight, chill out and get a good night’s sleep, get out of here in the morning and head up there and, hopefully, win a Late Model race.”

Third place finisher Jimmie Johnson said his inability to stay beside Busch on the restart cost him a chance for victory.

“I was able to hang with the 18 [Busch] inside of Turns 1 and 2, and he just cleared me going down the back,” Johnson said. “The outside lane had a little bit more momentum coming off of [Turn] 2 down the back. If I could have stayed inside of him, it would have been one heck of a finish.

“But it didn’t happen that way, and then he cleared me and went on, and then I had my hands full with the 00 [Reutimann]. David was probably the best car at the end, and if he had cleared me sooner, I think he would have been up there with the 18 racing for the win.”

Leaving Kentucky the Sprint Cup Chase shakes up a bit with Kyle Busch leading second place Carl Edwards by four points, Kevin Harvick in third, Kurt Busch in fourth and nineteen points behind the leader is fifth place Jimmie Johnson.

Post race interview with Driver Kyle Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers and car owner Joe Gibbs.


First Sprint Cup Appearance in Kentucky

Article first published as First Sprint Cup Appearance in Kentucky on Technorati.

Kentucky is an unknown for many Sprint Cup competitors

Almost halfway between Lousiville, KY, and Cincinnati, OH, you will find the small agricultural town of Sparta. Population – 209. (Except this weekend when the small community swells to over 100,000 as they play host to the NASCAR family and fans.)

For the first time since Kentucky Speedway opened way back in 2000, the top tier NASCAR division is in town for the inaugural Sprint Cup race. The road from an empty field in 1998 to the Quaker State 400 this weekend has been long, tough and filled with more bumps than Daytona’s turn four.

Kentucky Speedway ultimately had to sue NASCAR to get them to consider a Sprint Cup race. In the end it took a new owner group to make that happen and the lawsuit faded faster than Scott Speed’s career.

This race is the wild card, the unknown, the equalizer, the place where any advantage is welcome, but in short supply. If there is such a thing as an advantage it might go to guys like Joey Logano who have run in the Nationwide series and turned hundreds of laps on the mile and a half oval.

It’s not just the drivers. The crew chiefs and team engineers are scratching their heads to come up with a game plan. Everyone starts from a blank page. Even the defending duo of Chad Knaus/Jimmie Johnson could be as lost as everyone else along pit road.

Experience is everything in this sport and there is very little of it in the garage for this race. Look for the team that can learn fast, adapt to changing conditions, keep up with the race car and survive Saturday night to roll into victory lane as the first Sprint Cup victor at Kentucky.

The Nationwide/Feed the Children 300 starts Friday night at 7:30pm Eastern, on ESPN. The Sprint Cup/Quaker State 400 goes off Saturday night at 7:30pm on TNT.


Johnson’s Good at Fontana

Article first published as Johnson’s Good at Fontana on Technorati.

Jimmie Johnson -- Source: Nascar Media

To say Jimmie Johnson is good at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway is like saying there’s cheese in Wisconson. It’s an old fashioned understatement on steroids.

Okay, so how good is JJ at Fontana? Well, when you look at the stats, there’s Jimmie way up there — and then the rest of the drivers down here walking among the mortals.

Everyone knows Jimmie Johnson, five-time Sprint Cup Champion is not a fluke. He’s the real deal. You don’t walk away with five of those trophies running middle of the pack. You run hard but you run smart and Jimmie Johnson is one of the smartest drivers there has ever been and that’s saying something. That Petty fellow was pretty smart too.

As good as he is, week in and week out, his best track is Auto Club Speedway. He’s got that place figured out. Maybe a lot of it has to do with JJ seeing it as his home track. Jimmie grew up about 100 miles south of Fontana in El Cajon, Ca. He likes to put on a good show for his hometown fans.Yeah, that’s part of it, I’m sure, but the speedway really plays to Jimmie’s driving style.

The surface, the banking and the two-mile length all seem to be custom fit to the way JJ gets around the speedway. It doesn’t hurt to have a pretty smart crew chief sitting up on the tool box (Chad Knaus) or a car owner (Rick Hendrick) with pockets deeper than the Marianas Trench.

So what’s Jimmie’s stats at Fontana?

He has a series-high five wins (including three of the last five – four of the last eight); series-high in top fives with 11 and top 10s with 12 (12 is a tie with Matt Kenseth). a series-high 846 laps led (227 more than second-best Matt Kenseth…for comparison’s sake, Sunday’s Auto Club 400 is 200 laps). He owns a Driver Rating of 124.2, which makes ACS his best track in terms of the Loop Scoring Data statistics. If Johnson wins again, he would be the fifth different winner in the first five races, a first since 2005.

Is Johnson good at Fontana? When it comes to racing at Auto Club Speedway, Jimmie Johnson is tougher than a nickel T-Bone.