It was Kevin Harvick in Victory Lane at Phoenix after passing Kyle Busch with just a few laps remaining to take the win. But no one is talking about that.
The two big stories of the day were Jimmie Johnson losing the points lead to Brad Keselowski after a late race wreck, and Jeff Gordon waiting on Clint Bowyer in order to intentionally wreck him and the fight that followed.
Jimmie Johnson came to Phoenix the Sprint Cup points leader, and a sixth championship seemed to be in sight. But a blown tire sent Johnson hard into the wall and then to the garage for repairs. Johnson left Phoenix with a 20 point deficit to Brad Keselowski. A 15th place finish next week at Homestead will give the title to Keselowski no matter how well Johnson finishes.
Fights, Wrecks and Championship Hopes Gone
Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer were involved in a minor racing incident that escalated to a major melee late in the race. The two were racing for position and made contact which resulted in Gordon brushing the wall and cutting a tire.
An angry Jeff Gordon slowed on the racetrack and waited for Bowyer to come around. Gordon then crashed Bowyer hard into the wall in retaliation taking out Joey Logano and very nearly Brad Keselowski in the process.
After Gordon climbed from the No. 24 Chevrolet on pit road he was mobbed by Bowyer’s crew and a huge fight broke out between the two race teams.
But it did not end there. When Clint Bowyer heard about all that he made a run for Jeff Gordon’s hauler, and made it to the front door before being stopped. Bowyer was looking to even the score.
Jeff Gordon was wrong to crash Bowyer like that. Plain and simple. That wreck and its aftermath resulted in a lot of wrecked race cars, and nearly took out the championship leader.
Gordon and Bowyer were both summoned to the NASCAR hauler after the race, along with several members of both teams. NASCAR should do the right thing and park Gordon for one race as they have done Kyle Busch for a similar incident in the past.
What would you do if you were NASCAR?
Forbes has named Jimmie Johnson America’s Most Influential Athlete for the second straight year.
6 of the top 10 on the list are NFL quarterbacks. No. 7 on the list is the only other NASCAR driver in the top 10 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt was 3rd on the list last year. Jeff Gordon also appeared last year but he did not make this year’s cut
“It is just a huge honor,” said Johnson. “I think it’s very good for NASCAR.
The rankings are based on public opinion polls conducted by Nielsen and E-poll. 1100 US adults were surveyed. The poll measured each athlete’s likability and their marketing influence toward consumers.
He has 5 NASCAR championships, but is Jimmie Johnson really more influential than Tim Tebow (No. 2), or Peyton Manning (No. 3), or Dale Earnhardt Jr (No> 7)? After all, Earnhardt has been voted NASCAR’s popular driver year after year.
I suppose the answer depends on who you ask. Forbes did not say who the 1,100 people were who were polled. Pose the same question to a group of race fans at Talladega and the results could be altogether different.
If influential means being liked and having the ability to represent sponsors and influence purchases then who is NASCAR’s Most Influential Driver?
Jimmie Johnson Gets Points Back
Chad Knaus will not have to serve the 6 race suspension imposed by NASCAR after the No. 48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson failed pre-race inspection for the Daytona 500.
Jimmie Johnson will also get 25 points back that he was docked by NASCAR following the violation.
Knaus had been suspended and fined $100,000 for the incident, while Johnson was penalized with a loss of 25 Championship points.
NASCAR Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook heard an appeal by the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team and reversed the penalties imposed by NASCAR.
The penalties were previously unanimously upheld by a NASCAR appeals board, and this was the team’s last chance at overturning the penalty.
Middlebrook is a retired General Motors executive who serves as NASCAR’s version of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. One person with little if any experience officiating races has overturned the findings of NASCAR’s officials and their appeals board.
This decision only serves to make NASCAR look bad, and their rules to look meaningless.
It will only encourage more cheating going forward.
What do you think of the decision?
Here’s a video of President Obama meeting with Jimmie Johnson to honor his 2010 Championship. Do you know why the President waited almost a year after the fact?
Who do you think will be meeting this time next year?
Is Dale Earnhardt Jr a Support Driver for Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Team?
Jimmie Johnson did not win the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday without the help he received from teammate and drafting partner Dale Earnhardt Jr. If Earnhardt had gotten just an inch further back Johnson would never have made it. The margin of victory was that close – .002 seconds and a tie for one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history with 6 cars crossing the finish line virtually as one. Johnson grabbed the lead for the final time just 6 inches from the finish line.
Earnhardt was a good team player. He needs to put that one in the bank because Jimmie Johnson owes him big time.
Johnson knows it too. Jimmie Johnson gave Dale Earnhardt Jr the checkered flag that he picked up at the finish line, although Earnhardt seemed a little reluctant to accept it. I wonder what Dale Jr will do with that flag.
So why did Jimmie Johnson give Dale Jr the checkered flag?
“Just came to mind,” said Johnson flatly. “I handed it to him and he said ‘Man, I don’t want that.’ I said, Well, I have to give you something for the push and working with me. He said, ‘No, that’s what teammates do.’
“I smiled and I said take the damn flag. I’ll give you the trophy, too. He says, ‘No, I don’t want the trophy. I’ll take the flag, though.’
“Man, he’s a riot.” Johnson continued on the subject of Dale Jr. “You guys scan all the time but to hear him on the channel and Stevie and the things he talks about — can I have this channel more often just to listen?
As Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy raced toward the finish line it almost appeared that his left wheels crossed below the double-yellow line for a split second but no penalty was assessed by NASCAR.
“I was not focused on where that yellow line was,” Jimmie Johnson explained after the race. “I was more worried about causing a big pile up and luckily the 5 quit coming down and then the 24 pulled back up. So I don’t know where my left side tires were, but I’ve heard that a statement has been released and everything is cool. So I’m glad I’m not sitting here having to worry about that.
For a few seconds after the race it was unclear who had won. Then Dale Jr came on the radio and said “Hell, I think the 48 won.”
“I knew in my mind that if it that was the checkered, it was close, and I didn’t know if I had it won, said Johnson.
After the race No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus summed it up with a quick radio call to Dale Earnhardt Jr: “Next one is on us, brother.”
So now it’s your turn to have your say. As always, you can vent or you can cheer. The floor is yours. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. And if you like this be sure to hit the Facebook Like Button.
Kevin Harvick Comes Out of Nowhere to Shove Jimmie Johnson Out of the Way for the Win
Kevin Harvick led just one lap in the Auto Club 400 at California’s Auto Club Speedway today. But it was the one lap that mattered. Harvick chased down both Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson in the final laps – making a last lap pass for the lead on Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet just a few hundred yards from the finish line.
“Yeah, we led the right one, that’s for sure,” said a beaming Kevin Harvick of the battle to the final trip across the start finish line.
I have to admit that as I watched Harvick slice into the lead of Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson I thought he had taken 4 fresh tires on the final pit stop. I was surprised to learn after the race was over that Harvick had managed to not only catch, but pass the two leaders on old tires. You’re not supposed to be able to chase down Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch like that. Especially not at Auto Club Speedway, a race track the pair has dominated.
Why was Harvick’s No. 29 Chevy so fast on those tires? “Our car was able to get some air pressure built up in the tires and we were able to really fire off there right off the bat up top,” explained Harvick.
The key to Harvick’s victory – other than a fast car that came to life on old tires – was an aggressive push against the bumper of Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy down the backstretch at 200mph on the final lap.
That push allowed Harvick to build up a full head of steam going into turn three. And it cost Jimmie Johnson a split second of concentration. That was all Harvick needed to make the pass as Johnson’s car broke loose ever so slightly.
“I was after one thing,” said Harvick, “that was to run the very top of the racetrack. I was hoping that he thought he was going to be going too fast to run the top of the racetrack and get loose.”
“I just wanted to roll in as easy as I could and lay back to the throttle, go into the center of the corner, hopefully be able to leave it down on the exit. It all played out okay.”
What did you think of Harvick’s strategy and what else do you have to say about the race. Here’s your chance to have your say or talk about your driver. Have at it in the comments below boys and girls.
Will Jimmie Johnson Pass Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty
Jimmie Johnson now has 5 NASCAR Championships. Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt are tied with 7 each. Petty and Earnhardt never won more than 2 in a row.
Will Jimmie Johnson equal the record set by Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty? Could he pass the two 7 time champs and win 8 or more?
Iâ€™m taking a quick poll to see what you think â€“ just leave your opinion in the comments below.
I have to admit that I thought it was impossible for Jimmie Johnson to win 5 straight Sprint Cup Championships.
But then again I thought 4 straight was out of the question last year.
“Jimmie, you are a rock star, my friend,” crew chief Chad Knaus told Johnson on the cool down lap. â€œYou have proven it time and time again. And you damn did it today, my friend.â€
Today Jimmie Johnson proved all the doubters wrong by cruising to the championship with a 2nd place finish behind a dominant Carl Edwards in the Ford 400 at Homestead.
“Im just beside myself,” said Johnson as he celebrated with his crew in Victory lane. â€œFour was amazing. Now I have to figure out what the hell to say about winning five of these things. Everybody is going to want to know what it means. I don’t know. It is pretty damn awesome. I can tell you that.â€
Denny Hamlin led the Chase heading into the final showdown. But when he spun his No. 11 Toyota into the infield grass and damaged the front splitter his championship hopes appeared to be over. But Hamlin wasn’t done. His crew repaired the car and he came back to make one more run at Johnson. But the damage to the car was just enough to give Johnson the edge.
“We just had a good car today and we did almost everything that we needed to do,” said Hamlin.”We put ourselves in position to run up front, and we ran up front and you know, in the end, we just got beat there on that last restart and they just out ran us.”
What do you think about Johnson’s 5 straight championships? Who can stop him from getting number six next year, if anyone can?
Jimmie Johnson saw his lead over Denny Hamlin shrink to 6 Points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings following Hamlinâ€™s win in the Tums Fast Relief 50 at Martinsville Sunday.
That lead may vanish altogether by Tuesday if NASCAR issues a penalty for a part that was confiscated from the No. 48 Chevrolet before the race started.
Dale Earnhardt Jr led 90 laps in todayâ€™s race after starting from the 28th position. Juniorâ€™s No. 88 was just tight enough to make it fast and he rocketed through the field to the lead.
No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus saw how fast Junior was coming. H e radioed to Jimmie Johnson â€œif you hear a great scream and roar youâ€™ll know that Dale took the leadâ€ as Earnhardt closed in on the top spot.
As the field closed in on lap 300 that roar happened as Earnhardt passed Jeff Gordon for the lead.
For 90 laps Earnhardt Nation cheered on their driver. But when Dale made a pit stop the adjustments made the car too tight and it would no longer turn in the corners. Earnhardt fell back to finish 7th.
Gordon turned by Busch
Jeff Gordon was a little too aggressive when he made contact as he passed Kurt Busch on lap 385. Busch immediately returned the favor and put Gordon into the inside retaining wall. I donâ€™t think the payback fit the crime. Do you?
Trouble between teammates
Richard Childress Racing teammates Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick had a little dust-up for several laps as both drivers complained that the other was bumping and banging them.
Part Confiscated from No. 48
Prior to the race NASCAR confiscated a drive shaft cover from the No. 48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson. The part is headed back to NASCARâ€™s Research & Development in Charlotte.
If the part is found illegal will they issue a penalty or let it slide? A drive shaft cover seems like a pretty insignificant part as far as a competitive advantage goes. But remember that Clint Bowyer was docked 100 Championship Points a few weeks ago for an height infraction that amounted to about the thickness of a quarter.
That penalty cost Bowyer the lead in the Championship standings. Will Jimmie Johnson get the same call?
In the media center after the race Johnson pleaded ignorance about the part in question. â€œI don’t know what you’re speaking about, to be honest with you. Is this before or after, Johnson asked. When told it was a pre-race issue Johnson responded: â€œI don’t have a clue. Not my job, man, as Juan would say. â€œ
Weâ€™ll see what NASCAR has to say.
Mark Martin went 2 laps down early in the race after a crash into the outside wall. Martin rebounded to finish 2nd in a wrecked race car. â€œReally a great time, great recovery from two laps down,â€ said Martin.
â€œThat last hundred laps was fun. I’ve had guys pass me and I wondered how in the world they did that. Now I see how. What an incredible race car that Alan Gustafson and everyone gave me.â€
As always your comments and opinions are welcome. What was your take on the race?