There were two big winners in Sundayâ€™s Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway: Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson.
Biffle won the race after leading 60 laps. Johnson moved to the top of the Sprint Cup standings and moved one step closer to his fifth championship.
Greg Biffle and his team made the right calls and right adjustments as the race closed to put the No. 16 in position to win. The car was a little too loose for Biffleâ€™s liking in the early going â€“ but the team had the car dialed in when it counted.
â€œIt was a great run,â€ said Biffle.Â â€œThe car started off really good; just got a little bit too loose.Â I couldn’t keep up with the 14.Â They beat me a little bit on the start.Â I was just so afraid to get the car too tight.Â Once you get the car sliding the nose off of turn four, you’re just dead.â€
â€œI’ll tell you, those last two runs, it was amazing.Â Literally the best car I’ve ever driven here.Â I could drive anywhere on the racetrack.Â I could enter any line in the corner; push the gas down whenever I felt like it.Â It was pretty incredible,â€ Biffle said of his winning car.
Greg Biffle, his crew chief Greg Erwin and the No. 16 team also will divide a $100,000 bonus from Ford Motor Company.Â Ford has put the added bonus out there for any Ford team that wins one of the final eight Chase races.
â€œIt means a lot to me,â€ Greg Biffle said of Fordâ€™s added bonus money.Â â€œI’m not sure what I’m going to do with my half of the money yet.Â But I’ll probably donate it to my charity; probably help some homeless animals or something with my cut of it.â€
No one was surprised when the Sprint Cup Championship standings were posted following the race and Jimmie Johnson was at the top of the list. Havenâ€™t we seen this before?
â€œIt’s a great position to be in,â€ Johnson said of his points lead. â€œBut it’s way too early to think about it, to worry about defending.Â You have Chase guys running so good each and every week.â€
â€œJust can’t put your guard down,â€ Johnson continued very humbly. â€œUntil that checkered falls in Homestead, it’s anybody’s championship.â€
What do you think? Are 5 straight Championships a real possibility for Jimmie Johnson?
Jimmie Johnson’s Drive for Five Championships is Alive and Well.
How is it that Jimmie Johnson can be so dominant when NASCAR is so competitive?
The rules are so tight that no one driver should be so prevailing. But Jimmie Johnson always seems to peak at the right time. How does he do it?
Sunday at Dover International Speedwayâ€™s Monster Mile Johnson started from the pole in the AAA 400. He led the most laps and won the race. â€œMaximum pointsâ€ is how crew chief Chad Knaus described it.
According to Johnson it was â€œthe weekend we would dream of, were able to get it with winning the pole, leading the most laps and winning the race.â€
Johnson had little pressure from 2nd place finishing Jeff Burton in the closing laps. Although Burtons lap times were quicker than Johnsons at times Johnson was able to maintain a 2.637 second lead at the checkered flag; in part thanks to a speedy green flag pit stop by the No. 48 crew.
Mid-race A.J. Allmendinger, driving the No. 43 Ford, looked to have the car to beat. But Allmendinger ran over a ten cent washer and cut a tire. He went 2 laps down before rebounding to finish 10th.
â€œWe played it smart,â€ said Jimmie Johnson about the press by Allmendinger.Â â€œHe wasn’t a Chase guy. When he got to me and put pressure on me, I let him by.Â I just need to worry about those 11 other drivers and really about myself.Â Way too early to worry about stuff.Â Come the end of the race, he wasn’t there to have to fight with.â€
The only other serious challenger to the No. 48 was Kyle Busch. Then Busch scraped the wall and lost the handle on his No. 18 Toyota. He was not a contender for the win after that.
The win moved Jimmie Johnson to 2nd in the Sprint Cup point standings â€“ just 35 points behind Denny Hamlin with 8 races to go.
This is the time of the year that Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 crew always seem to bring out the big guns. They seem to pick up the pace when the Sprint Cup is on the line.
According to crew chief Chad Knaus it is the people on the team that make the difference. â€œWe work hard to make sure we have the right people on the team, said Knaus.Â â€œI think we do.Â We’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.Â I can promise you, if something goes wrong, something falls short of what their goal is, there’s nobody that feels worse than what that individual does.Â To try to motivate from that point is unnecessary when you got guys like that.â€
Can Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team pull it all together one more time for a 5th championship? And how will that championship be received by the fans of NASCAR?
Jimmie Johnson Admits That His Goal Was To Wreck Kurt Busch.
It looks like Jimmie Johnson has got his horseshoe back. In the closing laps of Sundayâ€™s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 in New Hampshire Kurt Busch moved race leader Â jimmie Johnson out of the racing groove and passed him for the lead. A roar erupted from the grandstand as Busch began to drive away.
“When we got going on the restart, Kurt knocked me out of the way, and I thought, ‘I don’t care if I win this race or not. I don’t care if I finish this damn thing. Â I am running into him and getting back by him one way or another,” Jimmie Johnson said.
Johnson was not done yet. A few laps later Johnson put the same move on Busch and held on to win the race.
â€œI have to say I was a little shocked,â€ No. 48 Johnson said. I haven’t spoken to him or really seen any video to know.Â If it was his intentions, that’s the first time in nine years racing with him that I have experienced that. It will definitely change the way that I race with him.â€
After the race Kurt Busch said that he didnâ€™t think that Johnson would intentionally wreck him to get the win.
â€œI hate that he felt that I wasn’t going to wreck him because that was my goal was to wreck him,â€ said Jimmie Johnson.Â â€œI usually get caught up in it, so I knew what my thought process was. Wreck his ass.”
The win was Johnsonâ€™s fifth victory in 2010 and 2nd in a row.
Kasey Kahne put on a strong showing for Ford leading 110 laps until suffering an engine failure.
Jack Roush, leader of the Ford contingent, was seen walking away from pit road before the race was over. That was a serious statement. Roush never leaves early. But he had seen enough today.Â His best finishing car was Greg Biffle in 16th place.
Jeff Burton was leading late in the race when a caution flag flew. Burtonâ€™s crew chief made the call to stay out when everyone else pitted for tires. But if Burton had pitted everyone else would have stayed out so he was in a no win situation. Burton quickly lost the lead. Then he was involved in an incident with Kyle Busch that sent Busch for a spin and both of them had to pit for tires.
Dale Earnhardt Jr continued to show steady improvement.Â Junior started 31st and finished 8th. Dale Jr will be in Victory Lane before the end of the year. Maybe as soon as Saturday Night at Daytona.
But itâ€™s what you as a fan thinks that is most important. What do you think about todayâ€™s race?
Photo Courtesy NASCAR Media
Gordon’s New Enemy May be the Best Thing to Happen to Him
Jeff Gordon once had a pretty tough driver racing against him to keep him on his toes and make him race his best. That driver wasnâ€™t afraid to bang on Gordonâ€™s bumper, question his manhood and hang nicknames on him like WonderBoy.
That driver was Dale Earnhardt.
Dale would intimidate Gordon and keep him on his toes. Dale Earnhardt made Jeff Gordon a better driver.
It should come as no surprise that Jeff Gordon hasnâ€™t won a championship since 2001.
But now Gordon has a new enemy. Jimmie Johnson. Gordon and Johnson are taking NASCARâ€™s suggestion to â€œhave at it, boysâ€ to heart.
As Jeff Gordon was passing the No. 48 at Talladega Sunday Johnson moved Gordon out of the racing groove and Gordon fell through the field like a rock. Before he could regain his momentum Gordon was involved in a wreck.
“I can tell you the 48 is testing my patience. It takes a lot to make me mad and I am pissed right now.”
“He’s been testing my patience and it’s about reached its boiling point.”
“I was coming 10 mph faster than anybody. I don’t know what it is with me and him right now, but whatever,” Gordon said.
Last week at Texas Gordon moved Johnson out of the way in a pass for the lead. Johnson retaliated by slamming into the door of Gordonâ€™s No. 24 Chevrolet.
“Four time’s a little upset,” Gordon said sarcastically. “He just wants to be treated different than everybody else.”
Jeff Gordon has finally had enough of Jimmie Johnson. And it doesnâ€™t matter that Johnson is his teammate, or that Gordon owns an interest in the No. 48 car, or that Gordon helped Johnson get a ride at Hendrick Motorsports.
Gordon and Johnson are not friends any longer. They are going out for beer and pizza any time soon. Donâ€™t look for Jimmie Johnson to hitch a ride on Jeff Gordonâ€™s jet for the next race.
Jeff Gordon is really fired up over Jimmie Johnson winning all the races and championships. Gordon wants his share.
Jeff, what took you so long? Do you think Jimmie Johnson will get the message?
Photo courtesy NASCAR Media
Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus have mastered the art of psychological gamesmanship. They are experts at getting inside the hearts and minds of their opponents.
Drivers are more concerned about beating Jimmie Johnson than they are about making their own cars faster.
Johnson enjoys the games. â€œI get caught up in that mind game stuff and find a lot of satisfaction in it,â€ Jimmie Johnson said. â€œI told Chad before the year was over I want to win a lot to frustrate the competitors.
Kurt Busch is concerned
Just look at Kurt Buschâ€™s remarks after losing at Bristol despite dominating the race and leading 278 laps.
â€œI donâ€™t know, Iâ€™d rather lose to any of the 41 cars out there than the 48 car,â€ Busch said
â€œIt’s up to the best of us to knock him off the top,â€ Busch said after losing to Johnson in the closing laps of Sundayâ€™s Food City 500 at Bristol. â€œSo it’s rough. You know, they’ve won three times this year. Not that we need to, deserve to win, it’s just that they are winning every chance they’re given. We just need to position ourselves more to get those wins.â€
Matt Kenseth is worried about Johnson, too. During the spoiler test this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway Kenseth was asked about the upcoming race at Martinsville and Johnsonâ€™s winning record there. â€œHeâ€™s good everywhere,â€ said Kenseth.
What drivers can learn from Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi knows how to play mind games all too well. She called President George Bush a â€œtotal failureâ€ when Bush criticized Congressâ€™s inaction on important legislation.
“God bless him, bless his heart, President of the United States — a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people,â€ said Pelosi.
When Barack Obama was pushing for passage of his Obama Care plan Pelosi urged her colleagues to vote for it. â€œBut we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in itâ€™â€ urged Pelosi.
There are a few NASCAR drivers who can stand to learn a thing or two about mind games from Pelosi.
Chad Knaus does the same thing to other crew chiefs. Heâ€™s been known to walk through the garage on the morning of the race with a rear spring over his shoulder headed to the race car â€“ but never intending to change a thing on the car.
He just wants to get the other crew chiefs talking â€“ to throw them off their game.
When the No. 48 team was invited to participate in a Goodyear tire test late last year many drivers including Greg Biffle were complaining that Johnson was gaining an unfair advantage. Hereâ€™s how Chad Knaus responded to that:
“But as far as sending a message, I hope it does. I hope people talk about it. Like I said earlier, I hope people are worried. I hope people are talking about the fact that we tire tested and it’s wrong. All these people can get wound up about stuff that really doesn’t matter,” said Knaus.
Dale Earnhardt was the master
I havenâ€™t seen anyone this good at psychological racing since Dale Earnhardt. He wasnâ€™t known as The Intimidator just for what happened on the race track.
Once at Talladega when all the other drivers were busy dialing their cars in during practice Dale shook things up with a very simple move. He parked his car in the garage, covered it up, and went fishing.
Dale Earnhardt won 10 Cup races at Talladega.
Earnhardt once struck fear into the hearts of his fellow drivers when he made his famous comment about drivers complaining about the high speeds at Daytona. Essentially, he told them if they were afraid to drive the car they should go home.
So who else in NASCAR is good at psyching out their competitors? What tactics have you seen played out by drivers? Iâ€™d be happy to hear about it in the comments, or feel free to contact me.
Is there any reason for NASCAR to run a race in Martinsville next week?
It seems like Jimmie Johnson wins every time we go there. Johnson has 6 wins at theÂ half- mile Virginia paperclip. His average finish is 5.1.
So far this year Johnson has won 3 of 5 Sprint Cup races. He is the man to beat at Martinsville.
How do Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus do it?
The No. 48 teamâ€™s domination canâ€™t be good for NASCAR â€“ long known for keeping an equal playing field.
You donâ€™t have to look any farther than the grandstands at Bristol to see that. There were 50,000 empty seats on Sunday. And Bristol has been sold out for 55 straight races.
Can anyone beat Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville
Jeff Gordon Hands Victory to Jimmie Johnson
Jeff Gordon was pretty upbeat following Sundayâ€™s Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway â€“ despite the fact that a late race pit call cost him the win.
â€œIt was a great day for us, dominating performance.Â The car was awesome, everything was good,â€ said Gordon. “The fact that we lost the race, now Chad looks like a genius.â€
Can he really be all that thrilled after leading 219 laps?
Gordonâ€™s crew chief cost him the race. Why did Steve LeTarte call for only 2 tires?
Gordon proved that he could drive to the lead over and over Sunday. When he overshot his pit stall and had to re-start in traffic he quickly regained the lead.
Maybe Gordon and LeTarte thought Jimmie Johnson was on a 2 tire strategy as well, but Johnson ended up taking 4 tires.
â€œI had no doubt in my mind we could hold him off with four tires,â€ said Gordon. That makes it even more puzzling as to why he only took 2 and virtually handed the race to Johnson.
â€œBetween the two cars, the 48 and the 24, whoever got out front at the end of that race was going to win the race if you had equal tires.Â I mean, we were very, very equal.Â They were better at certain stages of the run, but he couldn’t pass me,â€ said Gordon.
I donâ€™t know if there was any communication between the 24 and 48 teams, but the 4 fresh tires are what won Johnson the race.
â€œYou got to give ‘em credit where credit’s due.Â They’re very strong, a very good team,â€ said Jeff Gordon of the No. 48 team.
Chad Knaus just plain out-strategized Steve LeTarte on pit road.
â€œIt came down to pit stops,â€ said Jimmie Johnson.
So what are Jimmieâ€™s plans for the next race? â€œWe’ll just come back this week and take the trophy again,â€ said Johnson.
So do we even need to have a race in Atlanta Sunday, or do we need to just write Jimmie Johnsonâ€™s name in the record book?
Photo Courtesy Nascar Media
How Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr are Making it Look Like Last Year All Over Again
It looked like 2009 all over again at Fontana Sunday. Jimmie Johnson could do no wrong, while Dale Earnhardt Jr couldnâ€™t catch a break.
Can this be a good sign for NASCAR?
When Earnhardt broke an axle it was mass confusion in the pit box. Crew chief Lance McGrew wasnâ€™t even sure there was a replacement axle in the war wagon.
Brian Vickers broke an axle last year at Atlanta. Vickers’ crew changed the axle without losing a lap. That move was a key reason why Vickers was in the Chase â€“ and Kyle Busch was not.
Why did it take the No. 88 pit crew 12 laps to make a similar repair?
Jimmie Johnson was on the other end of the lucky horseshoe. He was on pit road when a caution came out and was within less than a second of going a lap down. Not long after that he was leading.
Johnson was challenged by Kevin Harvick in the closing laps until Harvick scraped the wall with his No. 29 Chevrolet. After that all Johnson had to do was cruise to the checkered flag.
Do you want to watch the 2009 season all over again? Can this really be good for NASCAR?
Photo Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports
Dale Jr Ranks Jimmie Johnson Alongside His Father
Dale Earnhardt Jr said that Jimmie Johnson â€“ knocking on the door of a 4th NASASR Championship â€“ was just as good as Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and David Pearson.
â€œYou definitely have to put him there in with my father, Richard and David Pearson, and all them guys,â€ Dale Earnhardt Jr said.
Do you agree with Junior? Does Jimmie Johnson belong in the same class as Dale Earnhardt?
Photo Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports
Do You Think Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are Cheating?
I’m taking a quick poll. Do you think Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are violating any NASCAR rules — or are they just really that good?
After all, NASCAR has had the No. 48 car back at the NASCAR R&D Facility after almost every race, and they still haven’t found anything.
What is really going on with Chad and Jimmie — cheating or just really good?