Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Thursday November 30, 2006
Author’s note: Here’s the first installment of my new commentary, “Holding a Pretty Wheel”. In upcoming installments, I’ll share some opinions and some facts, some humor and some drama on the sport we all care for : NASCAR. Look for it periodically throughout the offseason and every Friday once the 2007 season hits full swing.
In the weeks since this year's Nextel Cup championship was decided in favor of Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, I've heard a lot of people complain about him. The reasons why are as diverse as the crowd of Manhattanites currently welcoming the world’s fastest growing sport on wheels for the yearly awards banquet. Some people say Johnson cheats (Get over it; the team served the penalty NASCAR assessed – if you don't like it, complain about the rules). Others say he's too politically correct. He's too much like Jeff Gordon. He wins too much (bet Johnson doesn't care if you don't like that, either – if you compete at anything, you know there is no such thing as "winning too much." He's had everything handed to him. He's too perfect, too unemotional.
There are a lot of race fans who share those last two opinions. That really is too bad, because their opinion of the champ is so far off base, they're in center field. Johnson never had anything handed to him. He had to learn at an early age how to play nice with the sponsors – or he wouldn't race. So, he was always polite and always said what the potential sponsor needed to hear. That’s not arrogance – that’s done out of necessity, to get the big break in today’s NASCAR, where money trumps talent nine times out of ten. And Johnson has spent a long time on the phone this week, making sure he's thanked everyone who has helped him along the way. That doesn’t sound like arrogance to me.
Johnson didn't grow up with a racing career on a silver platter for the taking. In fact, he probably grew up a lot more like you or I than some of his competitors. He spent his childhood in southern California – the gritty, desert, wind-in-your face part of southern California, not the soft, palm-lined, ocean breeze southern California that many people think of. Raising a family in a trailer park, Dad Gary worked construction and drove trucks, and Mom Cathy drove a bus to pay the bills and make sure that their three boys had a little something extra when they could. That something was motorcycles; for Jimmie, it was also the first taste of racing…and of winning. He liked that winning feeling and never forgot that racing – and winning – was fun at its very core. Getting hurt didn't deter Johnson, either – he had knee surgery while most kids his age just skinned theirs. In fact, his father was often more fazed at Jimmie's ER escapades than he was. It wasn't unusual to see them both on gurneys – young Jimmie reeling from a racing injury, as well as father Gary, fainting from having to look at Jimmie's racing injury.
When it was time for the next step in Johnson's racing career, his family simply could not finance it, so the prodigal racing son learned to make contacts and then keep them interested, both by winning and by talking. He had to be respectful and polite to ensure the funding to race. But it wasn't an act – just a young kid being sincere and grasping at his dream. Johnson once co-drove 500 miles at Baja being sick in the car the whole time, because he wasn't about to give up this chance, lest it not come by again. Even then, he was racing every lap as if each opportunity was his last. Nothing in Johnson's career has been handed to him so much as Johnson has reached out and held on tight until he couldn't be denied.
Unemotional, you say? That criticism is aimed at the same kid who jumped onto the roof of his car after a hard crash in celebration, in gratitude that he was just happy to be alive? It’s aimed at the driver who wept in Victory Lane back in 2004, all because he was able to pay tribute to some dear friends he'd lost in a plane crash? Unemotional is tagged to the same person whose charitable foundation is dedicated to kids and families and animals? Who took the ultimate jab at his detractors when he dedicated his Daytona 500 win to them? I've never understood that label…not on Johnson.
Does Jimmie forget himself and rant and rave at NASCAR or his competitors? Not often. Every once in awhile, he'll express an immediate disappointment of the moment in a quiet voice; usually, he’ll apologize for it later. Don't mistake that for unemotional – it isn't. Self-consciousness, yes. Johnson does often seem to possess a small fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. That isn't lack of emotion; if anything, it's an overabundance of it. And every once in awhile, he forgets himself. Usually, it's on the team radio in a jumble of angry words – just the driver venting to his crew chief. But sometimes, it just boils over. When Robby Gordon dumped Johnson at Bristol a few years ago, Johnson stomped onto the track and told him in no uncertain terms who was "number one." With both hands. But those instances are few and far between.
Johnson has certainly faced his share of losses to racing, and he's borne them with grace. His best friend was killed in a crash at Lowe's Motor Speedway just hours after Johnson qualified for his very first Cup race. He raced through his grief that weekend, sometimes crying quietly in the car between practice laps, caught between his dream and a cruel reality. Johnson won at Martinsville only to go from the rush of winning to the searing pain of loss within a matter of minutes when the team was informed of the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash that killed ten of their friends and teammates. He spoke sadly at a press conference the following week and then went out and gave the best tribute he know how – winning that race. He sat in his racecar for a long time in Victory Lane, sharing a tearful phone call with Rick Hendrick and then fiddling with his drink and sunglasses, trying to pull himself together enough to speak to the waiting throng.
And when he won the championship he’s dreamed of since he was a little boy? Johnson clearly relished every moment. He hugged everyone in sight when he got out of his car at Homestead – including the Nextel Cup trophy… especially the Nextel Cup trophy. His voice shook with gratitude. During a photo shoot in New York City this week, he climbed onto a light pole at 48th and 1st and swung on the “Don’t Walk” sign like an exuberant kid. The smile hasn’t left his face all week long.
Johnson wears his heart on his sleeve. He may not say everything that goes through his mind, ala Earnhardt, Jr. or Tony Stewart – that's not his style. Rather, his emotions are in his actions and in his eyes. It's a more subtle display than forgetting himself and saying certain four-letter words on TV or climbing fences in victory celebration; but don't mistake Johnson's polished words for not feeling anything stronger. The emotion is always there… if you look past the surface. It’s never disappeared; not since he was just some unknown kid in underfunded equipment, and not now, when Johnson has the best cars and crew money can buy – a ride that he worked his whole life to get.
Johnson will no doubt be a good champion for NASCAR. He'll say and do the right thing the vast majority of the time, and he's truly a nice person to boot. Of course, fans will still dislike Johnson for being too nice, too perfect, too successful, too employed by Jeff Gordon. But to dislike him for being overprivileged and underemotional? That's a mistake…because it isn't true.
This driver is worth a second look.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Perhaps he is uncomfortable in front of a microphone?
Perhaps he is better than the driver who inherited his fan base.
He’s beating the 8 to a pulp.
Too bad for those who don’t like him. It’s the carryover from Sr. to Gordon and now him
There are quite a few other drivers who stink being interviewed. KK, DH, TS (yeah, he tells it like it is…he thinks he is telling it like it is big difference).
By the way, it wasn’t him that caused that big wreck at Talladega. Play the tape and you will see the #8 and #20 in the back playing innocent.
JJ will be a good champ…his race record since 2002 speaks for itself! Vroom…
I don’t get why fans go on the “he was handed everything,” rants about every driver they want to abuse — especially since that accusation is charged against drivers like Jimmie Johnson and the Busches whose middle-class family background is a matter of record but never against the drivers from genuinely wealthy families like Brendan Gaughan and Paul Menard.
And its rare to hear it leveled against drivers from multi-generation racing families like the Pettys, the Woods, the Earnhardts, etc. — as if wealth earned by racing were somehow purer or more moral than wealth earned by owning businesses other than race teams.
The only explaination I can find is that fans who think that way are simply jealous of others’ good fortune. And they need a good look into their hearts because envy is a very ugly sin indeed.
To M. B. Voelker.
Couldn’t have said it better, or agree more.
Just look at his Cup record and you have the answer, He’s better than their driver, so they hate him.
Fantastic article and it should be read by all the haters…unfortunately, they’re too busy screaming “Jimmie Jawnson should be SHAWT” at their TV’s in front of their 8 year olds.
Jimmie Johnson is a solid driver who benefits from an elite crew and great equipment. His record and championship speak for themselves. Personally, I do not care where he came from, his family background or his relationship with Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports.
I don’t like him because of his unwillingness on several occasions to take the blame for wrecks that he caused even when presented with video evidence.
I don’t like him for his whining on the radio when other drivers don’t get out of his way (it is a race Jimmie, get over yourself.)
I don’t like him for his actions after the Bud Shootout when he called on Richard Childress to fire Kevin Harvick for hitting him from behind and wrecking him when it was Jimmie’s own fault for running out of talent and braking in the corner in a restrictor plate race where everyone is inches from each other’s bumper.
His actions are what I don’t like not where he came from. Actions define the man and the definition Jimmie gives is not one that I could ever admire.
Jimmie Johnson is a class act and deserves the respect of all NASCAR fans whether you like him or not. I believe that he is a great Champion and will represent the “true NASCAR fans” in excellent fashion. Maybe the haters can at least respect and appreciate his efforts and the tireless efforts of his team. You rock Jimmie…
I respect that he dedicated his Daytona 500 win to me and the rest of the 48 haters.
He chose that to be his victory lane comment at NASCAR’s biggest event? Very classy indeed.
C Douglas get your facts straight before firing…
And all drivers “whine” about other drivers during the race- tune to Junior or Harvick’s radio sometime…. Mark has to be one of the worst whiner’s, especially over lap cars.
Excellent article. I never understood the hatred towards Johnson. Perhaps they’re “new” Kenseth/Kahne fans who don’t appreciate the fact that Johnson is very old-school? Jimmie has matured a lot over the years, and even then, he was talented. I remember when he drove that single-car now-defunct team to top-ten finishes in the Busch Series, and the first ASA race I ever watched was one at Memphis where he trounced the field. Jimmie can drive the wheels off of anything and I won’t be surprised to see him pick up many more championships.
great article, Jimmie has been the best driver in the sport since he entered it period! People like C. Douglas have no idea what they are talking about and it shows when they make stupid posts with the facts wrong. Taking blame for accidents? when was the last time Jimmie even caused an accident, not many if any this year while the 20 was wrecking two or three people each week. Sorry Jimmie wasn’t born into money like uhh.. Jr. Congradulations Jimmie and the Lowes team you guys deserved it
First, I’ll state….I’m not a Jimmie Johnson fan. But I do have respect for him as a driver and as a person. This was a great article and well written.
However, I also feel Jimmie Johnson is so closely associated with “Repeated Cheating Chad” (who I believe keeps his cheating tactics to himself…so JJ can cover for him better) and Jeff Gordon….who is hated by many fans. As Thomas Bowles once pointed out to me….JG was the FIRST pretty boy newcomer to NASCAR to start out with quality equipment vs. the veterans who were forced to earn their way to quality equipment. I agree, That was a BIG change to NASCAR that made a lot of fans very unhappy. IMO that change also resulted in other changes to please the sponsors and get the big bucks! It’s truly those changes in NASCAR that long-time NASCAR fans are so disgruntled about.
Although Jimmie also started his career in quality equipment and is a sponsors dream driver, imo, he commands a great deal more respect than he gets.
I agree that JJ is human and has his rare moments of letting off some steam. However, JJ is not arrogant and he is polished. His communication and interpersonal relationship skills are superior to many other NASCAR drivers. And I agree that JJ was wise beyond his years and learned those skills from an early age out of necessity to keep his dream alive.
I totally respect Jimmie’s perseverance and drive to win the Championship. His young record in Nextel Cup does speak for itself.
My issue is with the media promotion of “Repeated Cheating Chad Knaus”. IMO, he should have been excluded from receiving awards this year and truly should have been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR at the Daytona 500 this year. IMO, it’s a hypocritical message to promote this guy as a hero when he has REPEATEDLY been caught cheating over multiple years! IMO, NASCAR really missed a beat by not booting him out of the sport. And now some in the media are promoting him as a hero. Two wrongs never makes it right!
What will happen when Chad gets caught cheating AGAIN? I’m also opposed to Berrier being recognized….for the same reasons. He’s been caught cheating repeatedly over the years as well.
IMO, Anyone caught cheating should not be recognized with awards in the same year they are also penalized for cheating! THAT, just might put a stop to the unfair advantages that some drivers get because their CC’s are cheaters.
It’s one thing to push the envelope….it’s another to blatantly cheat. What Chad did at Daytona in February was blatant cheating! Yes, it was just once this year…but Chad’s reputation as a cheater was established prior to this one situation. And that has put a cloud over the 48 team for this entire championship year. Chad should not be recognized for anything this year imo!
If you disagree fine. I can deal with that with no problem. We’re all entitled to our opinions even if they differ from yours or mine. If you want to respond…please do so as an adult. Give me some valid reasons to think differently vs. childish bashing. Thanks!
Enjoyed your JJ article. I’ve wondered for a long time where the hatred comes from. Last month at Phoenix, I really looked around me to try and understand it. The first thing I noticed is that it almost all came from people in red wearing the #8. It’s definitely not all of Dale Jr’s fans, but a certain segment of his fans who can’t seem able to stand to see JJ have any success at all—even so much as leading a lap! Many of them stand and scream obscenities if JJ even passes Dale Jr on the track. This makes me wonder if it isn’t because JJ has accomplished what they expected Jr to achieve over the last 5 years. Many people seem to resent people who start out like them who have any success. So, maybe people really do relate to Jimmie and all it is is jealousy.
Wouldn’t any of us be proud if our child grew up to be like Jimmie—cleancut, wellspoken, polite and sooo good looking? Jimmie will make a great champion and will represent NASCAR well next season in spite of the haters.
Well I’m a “48 hater” as Jimmie once said, I read the article…..and yep still a hater.
There is no issue on my part with Jimmie Johnson and most of his fans. Jimmie deserves the Championship and his fans should celebrate his accomplishment.
Yes, you are correct again. The article is about Jimmie Johnson. However, the title of this article is “Hate the 48? It’s Totally Undeserved”. My purpose in responding is to provide a perspective as to why some fans take issue with the 48 team. Like it or not….Chad Knaus’ reputation as a cheater plays a major role in people’s perspective of the team. I may have responded differently if the title of the article was “Hate Jimmie Johnson? It’s Totally Undeserved”.
To further clarify…there is a fine line between pushing the envelope and blatant cheating. It’s called integrity. Chad’s reputation has crossed that line of integrity repeatedly including this year. Personally, I don’t recall so many blatant cheating penalities this year that created a Crew Chief shortage at the track. But you’re entitled to your opinion.
My point, is that if a CC is caught blatantly cheating and penalized for it….he shouldn’t be recognized or receive any awards in the same year that he’s penalized. That goes for Todd Berrier too….and I’m an RCR fan!
At least give me some credit for recognizing that Jimmie is a talented driver and deserving of the Championship. That’s more than you’ll get from most people you take issue with this year’s Championship team!
Perhaps, I didn’t give Jimmie Johnson enough accolades. But truly, I admire and respect Jimmie Johnson and believe that he is deserving of the Championship title. I’m happy for Jimmie and his fans!
That is a great article about our 2006 Nascar Nextel Cup Champion. Jimmie will represent this sport we love well.
In reality its not so much JJ people have gripes with. Its the fact that he drives for a team that gets favorable calls from NASCAR themselves and receives slaps on the wrist for infractions…...why wouldn’t people resent him and HMS?
Good article, but it still doesn’t change my veiws on JJ or the team he drives for sadly.
The wrong driver won. The penalty was not severe enough. Teams that cheat and have a history of it should be sitting out of events including the sponsor to send a message that cheating, fudging the rules or playing gray areas will not be tolerated!
Great article, Amy.
But you know, a big part of this sport is heroes and villains. We all have our heroes. And we all have the ones we like to see trailing white smoke.
The Red Army hates JJ for the same reason they hate Gordon. An Earnhardt is gonna have a tough time winning the Cup while those guys are around.
Johnson sealed his fate when he blamed Jr. for pushing him into Sadler starting the wreck at the fall ‘Dega race last year. When video showed that Jr. never touched him and that Jimmie had in fact started the wreck himself he decided then that he should apologize. Had he blamed anyone but the 8 he would probably be somewhat better received by all of those red-clad fans in the stands and at home.
It can’t help that he took out Jr. again this year. He was quick to throw blame at Vickers who did indeed spin him but it was obvious that the plan was that Vickers was to push Johnson past Earnhardt on the final lap. Had it worked, I doubt Jimmie would have even thanked him. When it didn’t he shifted the blame.
Cowardly and classes.
Hate is a strong word. I do not hate JJ, I just cannot seem to like him. I am a die hard Bow Tie fan and he has produced a lot of wins for the Bow Ties, but I still just do not like him. He always blames everyone else and he is too polished. I wished he drove a Ford he would be a lot more fun to “hate” then.
Good article. JJ is the 2006 Champion. I hope he grows up in 2007 and accepts responsibility when he is the cause. He could stop whining more, too.
I think everybody misses the point. It is not whether you love or hate JJ, the point is you know he is there.
History lesson for all you newcomers. I have been going to Talladega for years. In the days of Davey Allison, Talladega roared in approval when the 28 Texaco went to the lead. Earnhardt was booed just as boisterously. Then, that fateful helicopter crash and everything changed. July 93, the 3 car dominates and wins the race. From that point on, Dale was the man. Most of you only remember the larger than life hero, not the supervillian or the foil.
About that time, enters Jeff Gordon. When he starts winning every race, out come the boobirds. He is beating the 3 car. He doesn’t like being booed, and says so publicly. Earnhardt tells him, man, i’ve been on both sides of it. If they are cheering or booing, at least they know you are in the race.
Excellent Amy! And so true! Those of us who watch Jimmie closely always see the emotion under the surface even when he is using his best PC voice and face for the media or sponsers.
Jimmie has won more races in the last 5 years than any single other driver and the fans of other drivers can’t stand that so they boo. Just the way it is.
Keep on making history Jimmie!
Jimmie has more than once admitted he’s made mistakes and he doesn’t try to wreck someone to keep them from passing on the track. Not once has he tried to run someone up into the wall, nor flatten anyone’s tires. He has been a clean racer for most of the 5 years he’s raced- many drivers cannot make that claim. I dont believe I’ve seen JJ cause a caution intentionally to keep from going a lap down. I have never seen him punt another driver out of the way either- he had the opportunity to do that to Kevin at Phoenix. If the roles had been reversed, Kevin wouldn’t have backed off.
Excellent article. Jimmie will make an excellent Champion this year. Jimmie has not forgotten his past, and the people who have helped him. I thought it was wonderful that he remembered to thank the Herzogs during his speech at the banquet. Jimmie shows class both on and off the race track.
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