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Laps For Life 2009: A Blood Drive For Alabama

Posted by Digory Kirke on August 6, 2009

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TALLADEGA, Ala. – The fourth annual Laps For Life: A Blood Drive For Alabama, returns to Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, Sept. 11, at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum. As an added donor recognition gift, track officials are offering up Talladega goodies and track tours.

The blood drive will begin at the SPEED Channel Dome in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, where each participant and one guest will receive a special credential for the day that allows access to five different Pit Stops. The first 100 presenting donors through the door will receive a certificate to drive their vehicle around the track on Sept. 20 at Talladega’s Fan Appreciation Day. Once all five Pit Stops are completed, the participants will have made a “Lap For Life” around Talladega Superspeedway.

The credential will be issued at Pit Stop 1, “Draw For Qualifying” where participants will register to have blood drawn for donation, thus qualifying them for the rest of the adventure. There, they also will receive a ticket qualifying them for spectacular door prizes, such as driving school certificates and racing memorabilia.

After presenting to give blood, participants will move on to Pit Stop 2, “Souvenir Row,” where they’ll receive a goody bag filled with special items to commemorate the occasion.

From there, they’ll move to Pit Stop 3, “Driver’s Meeting,” to learn more about the history of motorsports by taking a free tour of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum.

After the tour, participants will venture outside to board a tour bus and be transported on a track tour of the famous Talladega Superspeedway. The tour will lead them to Pit Stop 4, “Type Testing.” Here, guests will be given the opportunity to have their photos taken in Gatorade Victory lane if they bring their camera.

Participants will return to the Hall of Fame for Pit Stop 5, “The Donor Diner,” where they will enjoy treats provided by Talladega Superspeedway sponsors.

Everyone who pre-registers online will receive a Talladega Superspeedway souvenir 40th Anniversary blanket when they show up at the drive to donate. To register online, go to http://www.givelife.org and enter the keyword TALLADEGA in the search field. Follow instructions on the web site to complete registration. All presenting volunteer donors will be given a choice between a Talladega shirt or a buy one get one free pass on the Robert Trent Jones golf trail (this offer excludes the Lakewood course in Mobile).

Talladega Superspeedway Laps For Life: A Blood Drive For Alabama, began in 2006 as part of a nationwide effort among multiple tracks.

In 2009, Talladega Superspeedway proudly celebrates forty years of the most competitive racing in NASCAR. While the track has seen changes made to the cars that circle its high-banks, the surface that they race on and the grandstands that thousands of fans fill twice a year, one constant remains; Talladega Superspeedway is authentic NASCAR racing at its finest.

Race fans should make plans now to experience HALLOW-DEGA℠ during the AMP Energy 500 weekend, Oct. 30 through Nov. 1. This weekend features the Mountain Dew 250 fueled by Fred’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and Race Number Seven in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the AMP Energy 500. For information on tickets, visit http://www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. CDT, Monday- Friday.

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Reutimann still angry about Pocono wreck

Posted by Digory Kirke on August 6, 2009

David Reutimann is not ready to forgive Denny Hamlin for the accident at Pocono Raceway that essentially ended his championship hopes.

“I’m not happy. I’m aggravated. I’m mad as heck,” Reutimann said Wednesday during an appearance for Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

“I’m not sugarcoating any of that. I’m still really, really aggravated. Maybe we can get things sorted out.”

Hamlin had dominated much of Monday’s race, but late pit strategy had shuffled him back to 13th when he ran into Reutimann in his charge back to the front. He shoved Reutimann, who was running ninth, through the turn. The contact caused Reutimann to lose control of his car, bounce off the wall and into teammate Marcos Ambrose.

Hamlin went on to win the race, while Reutimann finished 29th and dropped three spots in the standings to 16th — 121 points out — with five races remaining before the Chase field is set. He entered Pocono in 13th place, just 68 points out of the top 12.

The two have not spoken, although Reutimann said Hamlin texted him an apology after the race that didn’t make him feel any better.

“We can talk about it and I can get his take on it,” Reutimann said. “If he tells me he made a mistake and he’s sorry, then that’s the way it is. It doesn’t make you less aggravated or anything like that.”

Asked if it upset him further that Hamlin went on to win the race, Reutimann said “that didn’t help.”

Hamlin gave a detailed explanation of the incident following his win, taking blame for the contact but explaining how hard he was racing for the victory. He wanted the win, his first of the season, to honor his late grandmother, who had passed away three days before the race.

“It was a lot of emotion. I got guys in my mirror that I know that I’ve got to race for the win,” Hamlin said. “I’m racing for a win on a particular weekend where it means more than any other weekend. I think emotion was probably part of it.”

Reutimann said he’s not writing off the Chase yet, but knows it will be difficult to earn a berth after the Pocono accident. Next up is the road course at Watkins Glen, where he was 33rd in his only previous appearance and said he looks forward to “as much as a root canal.”

Still, it’s been a breakthrough season for the journeyman driver, who has helped legitimize Michael WaltripRacing. He was in legitimate Chase contention for 20 weeks and won the first Sprint Cup Series race of his career at Lowe’s in May.

He also made the cover of industry magazine NASCAR Scene for the first time in his career this week, under the headline “Why Not Me?” Some team personnel have joked the Aug. 6 edition was much like the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.

“I am not a big believer in stuff like that, but my team, those guys are super superstitious about things like that,” he said.

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Drivers Ponder Speedometer in Cars

Posted by Digory Kirke on August 4, 2009

Unlike a driver nabbed going 70 mph in a 55 zone, Juan Pablo Montoya couldn’t talk his way out his speeding ticket.

Not when NASCAR‘s the traffic cop.

Busted at the Brickyard for speeding on the final pit stop, the penalty cost Montoya his shot at winning on the historic track.

Perhaps the result would have been different if Montoya had a speedometer instead of relying on a tachometer that monitors engine RPMs. Or maybe he would finished 11th anyway.

Still, some drivers would like a speedometer added to their cars, or have NASCAR’s electronic timing system that records the pit row speeds refined to cut down on possible error.

“I have wondered why we don’t have speedometers,” veteran driver Mark Martin said Friday. “The tachs are not quite as accurate as a speedometer might be. But the system works. It’s just really devastating when you have one of the races of your life slip through your fingers.”

Montoya led 116 laps and was on the brink of his first Indy stock car victory to go with his Indianapolis 500 win when he was flagged for speeding. NASCAR allows a 5 mph cushion on pit road, where the speed limit Sunday was 55 mph.

Montoya was caught driving 60.06 mph in one spot and 60.11 in another.

“We checked ourselves after the race. It seemed OK, and everything seemed to be in the right place,” Montoya said. “For some reason, they said we were speeding, and that’s what it is.”

Could NASCAR make the switch from RPM to mph on the dash? Not so fast.

Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said the tachometer was the most reliable factor in determining pit row speeds.

“They get multiple usages out of a tachometer as an engine meter as well, without having to bother with the expense and the troubles of adding another piece of equipment to the car,” Darby said at Pocono Raceway. “The tachometers today are so sophisticated that teams can actually program their pit road speed into the tachometer.”

Most teams have even added a lighting system to the tachometer. A green light means a driver’s speed is in the clear, yellow signifies he is pushing the limit and red means the speed is over the limit.

“In NASCAR’s defense, the system that they have, you can’t dispute it,” four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said. “I would dispute the person that feels like they’re in the wrong, because their system is very accurate.”

There have been 75 speeding violations in 20 Cup races this season, Darby said. NASCAR does not warn teams when they’re on the edge of speeding or give them a chance to plead their case. Speed once coming in or out of the pits, and a penalty is instantly assessed.

“The teams know exactly where they’re supposed to be,” Darby said. “They know where the threshold is.”

Darby also said there are no plans to reveal pit road speeds to fans or the rest of the field during a race.

“If you have put your combination together and you’re real confident in your driver and you’ve got him set to where you think he can run 3½ miles over all day long without getting caught, that’s their business,” he said. “We shouldn’t display that to the other 42 competitors to let them figure out how they did it.”

NASCAR switched from a stopwatch system to electric timing in 2005 to provide a more legitimate way of assessing pit road speeders.

“It’s way better than it has been, way better than guys up there with stopwatches,” Carl Edwards said. “There’s enough moving parts there and potential for error that can be improved, and I think NASCAR will improve it.”

Montoya’s penalty baffled some of the top 12 drivers in the points standings who wondered why he risked a penalty when he had such a commanding lead.

“There’s no sense of pushing it that close if you have that big a cushion on the track,” Kurt Busch said.

Gordon, who was punished for speeding once earlier this season, said he trusted NASCAR makes the right call.

“What they’ve got is very accurate. What we’ve got is 90 percent accurate,” Gordon said. “It would be nice for us to find something that works a little better. As long as the gas pedal is our control unit, it’s going to be consistent.”

Montoya, 10th in the race for the Chase for the championship, is done griping about his lost victory.

“Who cares? I moved on,” he said.

MY WORD: It’s about time you whining, sniveling little bitch.

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TRY, TRY AGAIN! DUMBASS!

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 31, 2009

Dale Earnhardt Jr. liked how things were going at the Brickyard after a solid qualifying run and then racing in the top 10 most of Sunday. Then a blown engine wrecked it all ... again.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. liked how things were going at the Brickyard after a solid qualifying run and then racing in the top 10 most of Sunday. Then a blown engine wrecked it all ... again.

Another chance to regroup after solid start fizzles in Indianapolis

Selected comments from Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s postrace interviews at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Q: Dale, Mark Martin is 50. Bill Elliott is 53. That’s a long time for you. Can you foresee yourself at that age to be doing the things these guys are doing? (Saturday, July 25)

A: It’s different for everybody, I think. I really don’t know how you gauge the deterioration of talent in a racecar driver. It’s not as easy to do that as it is, I guess, in stick-and-ball sports where you can see when somebody’s lost a step or their batting average goes down or whatever.

You know, when I see Mark and Bill doing what they do, [it] doesn’t surprise me individually. Mark has always taken great care of himself. He’s always been one of the fastest guys. Bill’s the same way. I mean, Bill’s in excellent health, and he’s always been that way. I think a lot of it has to do with your ability to handle the heat and the endurance of the races themselves.

Obviously, anybody can come out here in a good, fast car and run a quick lap. Anybody can come out and do one or two or a handful of good laps. But those guys still run well and will continue to run well because their bodies can handle the heat and the endurance of the entire race.

I don’t think age is really a factor. It’s really what kind of shape you’re in, you know, to be able to do it.

Q: On the failed engine, you said on the radio you thought it was your fault. How so? (Sunday, July 26)

A: Well, just as the motor broke coming out of the pits under acceleration, so I just assume that the motor broke, could be in first gear leaving the pit stall; I could have possibly over-revved it a little bit or something like that. But I had a great engine and we don’t ever break them. But we ran good.

[We were] competitive today and we were making some gains and kind of adjusting back and forth trying to get the thing right; getting it too tight and getting it too loose. I was pretty happy with it at the end of that last run. We were just in our window to make it to the end and pitting early, and expecting NASCAR was going to throw a couple more cautions before the end of the race, but we felt like we were in good shape to get a good finish. I just hate it for my guys. They’ve been working really hard. This is a brand new car and we’re going to take it to Pocono and keep working at it.”

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Glad to Be Here

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 31, 2009

rpm_e_martin01_576Mark Martin

is a dynamo running on gratitude. He can overwhelm you with it. Make you tired of hearing it if you’re not careful — if you don’t understand that gratitude is his life force.

After any race, no matter where he has finished, he no sooner catches his breath than he says into somebody’s microphone, “I’m grateful …”

When Rick Hendrick signed him for this season, I couldn’t quite understand why.

That’s because I didn’t understand gratitude as energy. Had no idea Martin would light up the whole Hendrick Motorsports compound all by himself.

The guy was turning 50, which didn’t seem so much a physical drawback — he’s the all-time leader in fitness fanaticism among NASCAR drivers — as an age for cemented habits, such as steadfast courtesy to others on the track.

Usually when an owner signs a settled driver like that, the boss is hedging his bets for a championship, hiring the steady runner in case the younger hot dogs falter.

But Murphy’s Law has governed Martin’s 21-year quest for a championship, leaving him runner-up four times and finishing in the hunt four more times with no Cup to show for it all.

So had Rick Hendrick gone into the business of handing out last chances to nice guys? Was that it?

Martin’s gift season started as a roller coaster — two engine failures, and then, in the eighth race, at Phoenix, his first win since 2005. And then Talladega slapped Martin down again in another wreck.

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Mark Martin and crew chief Alan Gustafson have won four times this season, the most in Sprint Cup.

By the time he got to Darlington in May, Martin had resigned himself again. He said he’d stopped thinking about points altogether and was just driving for the love of all-out driving. He went out and won that race but then reiterated that it was all for the thrill now.

However, that made two wins, and by June, Hendrick had convinced him it would be a shame to waste those potential seeding points by not making the Chase. So at Michigan, Martin was points racing again, saving just enough fuel to finish, when Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle dueled and ran each other out of gas, and left Martin coasting into Victory Lane.

That made three. A win at Chicagoland made four, most on the tour so far.

And if the Chase began today, Martin would be the top seed.

Even after Johnson won the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday by holding off a ferocious charge from Martin and Martin dubbed Johnson “Superman,” that made only three wins for the HMS team star.

So the old man has emerged as the team leader. Hendrick’s move has been anything but a handout, and he already has reaped a tidy return on his investment.

Johnson, asked whether he had a reciprocal nickname for Martin, said, “I don’t know what to call him. ‘Bionic Man’ or something …

“The way he is, what he asks of his team, the way he interacts, his dedication — it’s contagious, brings out the best in all of us on the race team. I could see [Jeff] Gordon, myself, [Dale Earnhardt] Jr., all of us looking at ourselves in the mirror, doing a better job, pushing ourselves harder.

“Look at Mark. The guy is nonstop.”

“Race in, race out, he’s energized all of us,” Hendrick said.

Mark Martin made sure to congratulate Jimmie Johnson in Victory Lane after Johnson's win in the Brickyard 400.

Mark Martin made sure to congratulate Jimmie Johnson in Victory Lane after Johnson's win in the Brickyard 400.

Martin is a predawn riser, a workout machine, a fast walker through the shops and garages, an obsessive weight watcher even with his diminutive frame. He could do commercials for Energizer. All they’d have to do is follow him with a camera.

He got Hendrick himself back on the kind of fitness program Hendrick hadn’t tried since his bout with leukemia a decade ago. Martin was the example Hendrick used to get Earnhardt into running shoes and the gym this spring.

Martin’s gratitude flows from deep and distant in his past. He arrived in NASCAR in 1981 under the assumption he would set this world on fire, hard-drinking, temperamental, self-assured.

That of course didn’t last long. After his first full season, 1982, he slid and then plummeted off the Cup tour. Not until 1988 did Jack Roush lift him out of limbo, and after those two forceful personalities found harmony in 1990, they contended with Dale Earnhardt for the championship.

Bionic Man.

Whence cometh his energy?

“He’s appreciative of the opportunity,” Hendrick said.

And there it is. Gratitude. The driving force, old-fashioned as it might be.

From any postrace interview, but from the latest one for instance: “I’m actually just grateful that I had a chance to race for the win” … “I’m grateful to have had a chance at it” … “I’m grateful for it.”

Mark Martin's had so much influence in a short time at Hendrick Motorsports, he even got Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the gym.

Mark Martin's had so much influence in a short time at Hendrick Motorsports, he even got Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the gym.

Martin’s gratitude flows from deep and distant in his past. He arrived in NASCAR in 1981 under the assumption he would set this world on fire, hard-drinking, temperamental, self-assured.

That of course didn’t last long. After his first full season, 1982, he slid and then plummeted off the Cup tour. Not until 1988 did Jack Roush lift him out of limbo, and after those two forceful personalities found harmony in 1990, they contended with Dale Earnhardt for the championship.

Martin has lived on gratitude ever since.

And that’s what Hendrick has harnessed.

I’m weary of the word “visionary,” from its overuse in racing. Besides, Hendrick deserves better than that.

He is a seer. He saw the dynamics of gratitude in Martin as surely as he saw the uncanny ability to drive a loose race car in a kid named Jeff Gordon in a mediocre car with a shoestring team in 1991.

Now I see what Hendrick wanted with Martin and why he wants him back next year.

After Indy, Hendrick’s voice broke as he said, “Mark was a gentleman. He came to Victory Lane.”

What choked up the top team owner in NASCAR?

Gratitude, I suspect.

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Prices cut for 35,000 seats at Darlington

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 31, 2009

Darlington Raceway has trimmed ticket prices on more than half of its seats for its 2010 NASCAR race in light of continuing tough economic times.

Darlington president Chris Browning told The Associated Press on Thursday that the track “Too Tough To Tame” would offer reduced prices on about 35,000 seats for next year’s Southern 500. Add that to the 9,000 or so seats reduced by $10 for last May’s event, and 44,000 of the track’s 62,000 would cost less than they did in 2008.

Darlington came within 3,000 tickets of a fifth straight sellout this spring, a strong showing in a region afflicted with 12 percent unemployment. But Browning said officials didn’t want to just hold the line and pray more prosperous times were ahead by May.

“We kicked around a whole lot of different scenarios,” he said by phone, “and at the end of the day, we felt like this was the right thing to do.”

Browning said renewal forms will go out to all ticket buyers next week. Should they respond by the deadline of Sept. 18, purchasers could receive an additional $5 discount.

The biggest reduction comes in the Wallace Grandstand along the start finish line and affecting about 2,500 seats that had been $85 this May and will go for $59 next spring. A timely renewal would mean a savings of $31 a seat.

A section in the Colvin Grandstand along Darlington’s backstretch where seats cost $70 last year would also drop to $59. People in sitting in the track’s two most recently built grandstands, the Brasington Tower in turn one and the Pearson Tower in turn four would see prices dropped from $95 to $90, along with the additional $5 discount for renewing before Sept. 18.

Browning said post-race questionnaires and studies Darlington conducted among ticket buyers found that price was a big drawback to attending. “We want to do everything to make it as affordable as possible,” he said.

It wasn’t too long ago that Darlington had trouble attracting people to its races. The 1.366-mile egg-shaped layout was built in 1950 but had languished through the decades while other, more modern tracks sprang up as NASCAR became a fan favorite from coast-to-coast.

Darlington lost one of its two Sprint Cup weekends after 2004 and saw its lone race date shifted to Mother’s Day weekend. However, the track has added lights for Saturday night racing and recently used $10 million for capital improvements to repave the surface and construct a wide infield access tunnel.

Browning said the track recently received a copy of its sanctioning agreement for 2010 and wanted to make sure its fans could afford to show up.

Tom Regan, a University of South Carolina researcher who has conducted economic impact and fan studies for Darlington in the past, said the cost reduction is Darlington understanding its fan base.

“It’s not desperation,” he said. “I think it’s a marketing move. Lets listen to the fans and see what they’re saying.”

Browning believes NASCAR will bounce back strong when the economy improves. He’s glad that Darlington can make things a little easier for fans in the near future instead of down the road.

“We’ve faced hardships before,” Browning said. “We always seem to be able to adjust. Hopefully, the whole country will adjust and move on.”

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Brickyard a Building Block toward Championship

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 30, 2009

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What a difference three years make.

When Jimmie Johnson headed to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2006, all the questions were about why he fared so poorly at the famous venue – as well about when he thought he would be able to break through and win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

Fast forward to 2009, and the questions are of a highly different nature heading into the latest stock-car race at Indy.

Johnson now is the three-time defending champion in the Cup series. He’s also won two of the last three times he’s raced in his No. 48 Lowe’s Impala SS at the hallowed Brickyard.

“This track has been so feast or famine for us,” Johnson said. “We’ve either won or been on fire, wrecked.”

Typically, his wins in 2006 and in 2008 at Indy were sandwiched around a fiery wreck in 2007 that relegated him to at 39th-place finish. Other than his two victories, he’s finished in the top 10 only one other time there – that coming in his rookie season in 2002 when he started 37th and finished ninth, followed by finishes of 18th, 36th and 38th in the next three years before he registered his breakthrough win at the track in 2006.

And make no mistake. That was indeed a breakthrough victory. Many believe it helped vault Johnson to his first championship, which in turn launched him on a string of championships that has been matched only one other time in NASCAR history – when Cale Yarborough won three titles in a row from 1976 through 1978.

“I feel very fortunate to have won on many of the major tracks we compete on and in many of  the major events in our series,” Johnson said. “At the time to overcome such a difficult track for the 48 team meant a lot to us, gave us a lot of hope and belief in overcoming the hurdle to win a championship. It had been right there in front of us, but we kept missing it. It really set the pace for us to go on and have good things take place.

“It also was really rewarding to really have struggled at a track and come back and finally beat it, after it had beaten us so many times. We won the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard in the same year, then went on to win the championship. So it was extremely special.”

This year Johnson hopes to use Indy as a springboard to an even loftier place in stock-car racing annals. He is attempting to become the only Cup driver ever to win four championships in a row.

When it comes to chasing history, there is no better place to do it than Indianapolis Motor Speedway, according to Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports, which fields Johnson’s formidable car.

“Every win is special, but there’s definitely something unique about Indy,” Hendrick said. “The track has so much history, and you can just feel it when you walk in. There are certain places that are always going to be special, and that’s one of them.”

As special and as important as Johnson’s first victory was at Indy in 2006, Hendrick said he believes that last year’s win in an event marred by tire problems for all competitors was at least as pivotal in helping the No. 48 team ultimately complete another run to the points championship.

Indypitroad (Small)

“Any victory is going to be big in building confidence and momentum,” Hendrick said.

“I think that win last year was important because the 48 team was running well but hadn’t won a race in a while. So Indy helped us build some steam as we went into the Chase (for the Sprint Cup championship).”

Hendrick added that he’s not surprised at all that Johnson and his team have turned around their fortunes at a track that once seemed to have their number – and not in a good way. He also made it a point to credit crew chief Chad Knaus and the rest of the No. 48 team for Johnson’s success as a driver.

Asked why he thinks Johnson has been so good lately at the Brickyard, Hendrick replied: “For the same reasons he’s good at other places. Jimmie’s one of the smartest drivers I’ve ever seen. He gives exceptional feedback and has a great feel for the chassis. He’s a real technician in the car, and that’s to his advantage everywhere we race.

“But it’s not just Jimmie. You can’t discount how important Chad and the crew are. Chad has done an unbelievable job building that team, and they really have the total package: great driver, crew chief, team and car. That’s tough to beat.”

That’s tough to beat most anywhere on the Sprint Cup circuit. But in recent years, it has become even tougher for others to contend with at Indy. Johnson still maintains that it all changed with the victory in 2006.

“There are so many positives that came from it — the attitude the team had, the momentum it gave us, that sense of feeling like we beat something that had been beating us,” Johnson said.

brickborderweb

MY WORD

Now with his third win at the Brickyard and making NASCAR History by being the first driver to win it Back 2 Back you can bet that, that drive and confidence is even stronger than before. Watch out I see, feel, and smell a Fourth (4- Peat) Consecutive Championship coming!

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Johnson Hopes for Good Things in Pocono for Team 48

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 30, 2009

Less than a week after making history as the only driver to win back-to-back NASCAR events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson must now turn his focus to the next track – 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway.

Johnson has 15 starts at the Long Pond, Pa. venue and has posted two wins, five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. With a little momentum behind the Lowe’s team, Johnson believes they keep things going in the right direction.

“Pocono’s been tough on us since we won in 2004,” said Johnson. “We’ve been getting closer to winning a race again though.  I think the spring race we were in contention and running second at the end, ran out of gas.  So I’m excited coming off of Indy.  Those tracks are somewhat similar.  We’ll see how it works.”

But despite the similarities between Indianapolis and Pocono, Johnson confesses he and crew chief Chad Knaus will hold on to their race-winning Kobalt Tools Impala that visited Victory Lane last weekend.

“We’re going to hang on to that car and use it in the Chase,” said Johnson. “It worked out where it debuted at Indy.  We know it’s a good car.  We’re going to hang on to it for the Chase.”

Sunday’s 160-lap, 400-mile race will be broadcast live on ESPN beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

RACE NOTES
Pocono Raceway

  • Johnson has made 15 Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono Raceway, posting two wins, five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.
  • The three-time champion has completed 99.7% (2876 of 2885) of competition laps at the 2.5-mile tri-oval and has led 399.
  • Johnson has an average start and finish of 7.1 and 9.6.

Chassis

  • Johnson will pilot chassis No. 534 in Sunday’s race. He last drove it to a seventh-place finish at Pocono Raceway in June.
  • The backup chassis, No. 504, was last driven to a 13th-place result at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May.
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Jimmie Johnson’s Record at Pocono

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 30, 2009

JJ Pocono

Johnson Finishes 7th in Pocono; Maintains 3rd in Point Standings

LONG POND, Penn. (June 7, 2009) —  Jimmie Johnson was slated to start third in Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at Pocono Raceway after Friday’s qualifying session was canceled due to rain.

But when pole-sitter and points-leader Tony Stewart wrecked his primary racecar in Saturday’s practice session, Johnson’s inside row moved up, allowing him to start from the top spot.

Johnson led 31 of the first 38 laps before falling victim to Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. The Lowe’s Chevrolet continued to run in the top-five for the next 65 laps.

On Lap 104 of 200, as Johnson was entering pit road for a green-flag stop, the caution flag came out for debris. Johnson continued to his pit stall and took four tires and fuel but as a penalty for pitting too soon was forced to start at the tail end of the longest line when the green flag waved.
“It was an exciting race,” said Johnson. “We were in a great position and unfortunately, coming to pit road to pit and the caution came out and I couldn’t see a flagman or lights or anything. But luckily, we rebounded from that and had a great car and drove up to the top five.”

Johnson restarted 25th, but quickly drove through the field, reentering the top-10 by Lap 123 of 200.

By Lap 170, Johnson had moved to third-place, just 1.5-seconds behind leader Stewart. Biffle was running second. By Lap 190, most of the top five cars slowed their lap speeds in order to save fuel, including Stewart, second-place Edwards, and Johnson.

“At the end we were just playing a fuel game,” explained Johnson. “I didn’t play it well enough. I had to run too hard at the start of that run to stay ahead and I just used up too much gas and I ran out coming into the tunnel turn.”

On Lap 199 of 200, Johnson caught Edwards for second place, but ran out of fuel in Turn 3, dropping to the bottom of the track. Johnson coasted to the finish line and was credited with a seventh-place finish. Stewart won the race.

“I tried,” said Johnson “And it was funny. I was just kind of riding and wondering who was going to go and when because everybody was about half-throttle. I was trying to get to the end on gas and I thought Carl (Edwards) ran out on the front so I got in the gas and got by him and I went down through (Turn) one and came down the backstretch and I ran out. And I’m like, oh yeah. Figures. So it was one of those days. But a big congratulations to Tony Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing. Those guys have been doing a great job.”

The result allowed the three-time Champion to maintain the third spot in the driver standings, 103 points behind leader Stewart. Jeff Gordon is still second, 71 points back. Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch round out the top-five.

The top five-finishers at Pocono were: Stewart, Edwards, David Reutimann, Gordon and Newman.

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Sprint Cup Drivers should NOT

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 30, 2009

BE ALLOWED TO RACE IN NATIONWIDE OR CAMPING WORLD SERIES!

Why do so many cup drivers’ race in Nationwide or Camping World Truck series or all three?

Yes, I know these guys love to race.
Yes, I definitely would love to be in a race car every chance I got.

But racing is a sport that is very physical, no matter what many people think out there, NASCAR is a SPORT. And most probably the best sport out there. Why exhaust yourself like that? I really don’t see how Kyle can hop, skid and jump out of a Truck and hop into a Nationwide car and race in Sprint Cup all in the same weekend. I guess it is because he is young, but still it’s bound to catch up to him right?!!

These racers who are in Sprint Cup full time should not be allowed to run the other two series if you ask me. They should let the up and coming new driver’s have a chance to win a championship and show there stuff out there on the track battling other rookies and non-sprint cup drivers.

Why let a full time Sprint Cup driver race in the two other series and possibly win the Nationwide or Truck Series Championship. If they can’t win it in Sprint Cup then why take that opportunity away for some guy who only runs the Nationwide or Truck Series race? These younger guys need exposure to get into Sprint Cup which is probably a big dream of majority of the racers. Let these guys race amongst themselves.

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