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Is Jimmie Johnson’s pole at The Glen enough to satisfy you?

Posted by Digory Kirke on August 9, 2009

OK, so Jimmie Johnson doesn’t have a road-course victory on his resume yet – a fact which he was reminded of several times Friday at Watkins Glen.

But he does have a road-course pole to his credit now, after his fast lap on a pleasant New York afternoon edged out Kurt Busch for the top spot.

Maybe that will do something to quiet those who believe Johnson’s resume is incomplete without a road-course win. It’s a bit ridiculous, if you ask me.

People are still waiting for Johnson to win at a non-oval track (even more than a place like Bristol, for instance) because they view it as the truest test of driver ability. But while road-courses are definitely a great tribute to driver talent, so are three straight Cup championships.

Actually, I’d take the three titles over a road-course win – wouldn’t you?

Rest assured, Johnson said a road-course victory is now at the top of his list. And he’ll get there. (Which means all of you are now in trouble for opening your mouths about this. When Team 48 concentrates on something like this, it is in the bag it will eventually happen)

“It’s just taken me a long time – we only do it twice a year – to figure it out,” Johnson said.

In reality, Johnson doesn’t need a road-course victory to prove anything. Actually, he has nothing left to prove.

But for those looking for some greater proof of Johnson’s talent (again, silly given his accomplishments), how about Friday’s pole?

Think about it: There’s no other place where the driver has more to do with winning the pole. Superspeedway poles are almost 100 percent about the car and intermediate tracks are perhaps 75-25 car/driver.

Road-course poles are one lap, one shot at coming the closest to a perfect lap when everyone is trying their hardest.

The winner of that little contest on Friday was Johnson. Satisfied yet?


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Jimmie Johnson puts another brick in the wall

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 29, 2009

While Jimmie Johnson celebrates a third Brickyard win, Darrell Waltrip thinks it might signal a fourth straight Sprint Cup title.


By Darrell Waltrip

You know folks, the results that came out of Sunday’s race at Indianapolis got me thinking, so I looked back at the other 15 previous races. What’s interesting is out of the 16 races run there, 14 of them have been won by champions. The only two races not won by champions were won by Ricky Rudd and Kevin Harvick. That’s pretty impressive.

To take that a step further, seven times the winner of the Brickyard race has gone on to win the Sprint Cup championship. I think it’s the importance and stature that race has in our sport now. Drivers will tell you that next to the Daytona 500, racing at the Brickyard every summer is our second-biggest race of the year.

I think that’s why a championship-caliber driver and team rise to the occasion with a race of this magnitude. Lots of people run well there, like Juan Pablo Montoya on Sunday, but as history has proven out, it’s our champions that rise to the occasion.

Speaking of Juan, I felt so bad for him. Man, what a heartbreaker for him. He could have written his name in the record books by winning Sunday because he has also won the Indy 500. That would have been an amazing feat. He started on the outside pole and really never looked back all day long. He had a dominating car and led 116 laps. He really was in a league of his own. Unfortunately Juan broke one of my golden rules — “don’t beat yourself.”

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why a guy like Juan with a five-second lead on the field, not being pressured by anyone and gets caught speeding on pit road. Only thing I can think is it had to be a miscalculation on his tach. Juan was the only car the entire day caught speeding on entry. A few other cars got nabbed for speeding on exit which is common.

I really was pulling for Juan with his retro paint scheme. He also was my dark horse pick to make the Chase. I think he’ll make the Chase alright but winning Sunday could have gone a long way in guaranteeing it.

I agree with what Chad Knaus mentioned after the race. The teams have timing and scoring for cars on the track, but they don’t have it for when the cars come on pit road. If that information is available and if you are going to nab people for speeding on pit road, quite honestly, the teams need to have access to it. To me it seems like it would make it a lot easier for the teams to regulate their speeds on pit road if in fact they could see the speeds they were running up and down pit road. What’s wrong with giving the teams the information to do a better job?

Also, while I was thinking about how it always seems that our champions win at Indy, it got me thinking of driver/crew chief combinations and the chemistry they have. There’s no question in my mind that Jimmie and Chad are at the head of the class when it comes to chemistry.

In my mind, they are also right up there with the greatest driver/crew chief combinations in the history of our sport. Think back to the Petty/Inman era. David Pearson/Leonard Wood, me and Jeff Hammond, Earnhardt and Kirk Shelmerdine, Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham … and the list goes on and on.

There really have been some amazing pairings across the history of NASCAR, but I have never seen a combination and team like the No. 48 bunch that is so well put together from top to bottom. They lack nothing. That’s why they win the big races and that’s why they are going for a history-making fourth consecutive championship. Certainly on Sunday Jimmie and Chad put another brick in the wall towards No. 4.

This team knows how to peak at just the right time. It truly is phenomenal to watch. Jimmie gives excellent feedback. Chad takes that and he and the team make the right adjustments at the right time. They did it again Sunday and showed why across the board in NASCAR, they are the team to beat.

Everybody’s been making a fuss over these double-file restarts. Listen, for the most part, all the restarts until you get cars laps down have been double-file restarts. The difference now is they mean something. You are racing people for position now more then ever before. This new rule certainly has added another twist and added excitement. It’s just another element that has been added to the race and I don’t see a thing wrong with it. I am a big fan of them.

What’s interesting to note is the use of the outside groove since the rule change. It’s being used more than ever before because it seems to be the faster line. There seems to be a little more grip and more traction there. You are seeing with this new car that when you go down in the corner and if there is a car on your outside, it pins you down, gets you loose and the car on the outside drives off and leaves you.

So we now have six races to go until the Chase: Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond. Kyle Busch has just had a terrible run of luck. I know you think I am wild about Kyle Busch. I am wild about the way he drives. I am not a big fan of how he treats the media and fans when he loses.

If you remember last year, I talked about that it is consistency that makes a champion. This year has been more realistic than last year when he was winning everything in sight until the Chase started. He’s won three races this year in the Cup car, but he isn’t having the luck he had last year. He’s winning consistently in the Nationwide series and running pretty good in the truck series.

I don’t think he is out of the Chase yet. He and that team are capable of racing their way back in. However, they simply can’t afford, again with only six races left, to have any more bad weekends. You have to admit, when Kyle has a car that is capable of winning, he sure is fun to watch.

On the plus side, Kyle even seems to be working on his attitude. He even admitted that this weekend during an interview. If he can get his arms around that area and gets a handle on his emotions, then look out because he could be a contender. We will just have to wait and see.

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Rick Hendrick is for HIRE!

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 13, 2009

Rick HendrickMr. Hendrick,

What is the point of having a race team when you give all of your parts to other teams, like Tony Stewart. He has dominated the races with your engines.

This is ridiculous.I guess it is all about money when you really step back and take a look at it.

I was very disappointed with the Coca Cola 400 held at Daytona on the 4th of July.Lately, I haven’t been excited about racing because I know that either Kyle Busch or Tony Stewart will be at the front and the Hendrick ‘TEAM’ will be struggling behind somewhere.

This is wrong to me and I hope that someone in the Hendrick company will knock some sense into Mr. Hendrick. Either be a parts distributor to all teams and not an owner or be an owner loyal to his team and concentrate on keeping the parts just for your team!!!!!!!!

Now I know some idiot is going to come along and say something along these lines:

HMS only sells/leases those engines and trannies to SHR (Stewart-Haas Racing). Same engine, same package. The difference is how you tune it and how you set up the car. Go to a motor shop, buy two identical engines and put them in two identical cars, they will perform differently based on the skill and needs, and personal likes of the two mechanics.

This argument would be false:

HMS not only sells the engine and transmissions, they also sell their chassis. Further we are not talking about the cars you drive day in and day out. We’re talking about stock cars. With the COT (Car of Tomorrow) there isn’t that much difference to play around like that. Therefore your selling your competition exactly what you have and what you have/had which has helped you dominate the competition in previous years.

So why is Rick Hendrick for hire?

With three time consecutive cup champion Jimmie Johnson in Hendrick’s stable one would think, hey that man (JIMMIE) is Hendrick’s bread and butter right now, a prime a cut. He’s only one of two men in the history of Nascar to accomplish this feat. He now stands on the cusp of making history this year by going for his fourth championship, and he is in the running to do just that. But Hendrick has a huge appetite, and is all about money over loyalty

The bottom line:

Mr. Hendrick someone needs to Gibbs (smack to the back of your head) you or better yet, put YOU into the wall!

Mr. Hendrick someone needs to Gibbs (smack to the back of your head) you or better yet, put YOU into the wall!


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Johnson on Top in Friday’s First Practice

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 11, 2009

Jimmie Johnson LifeLock 400 2009 Friday's First Practice

Jimmie Johnson LifeLock 400 2009 Friday's First Practice

Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson led the way in the first of Friday’s two NASCAR Sprint Cup practices at Chicagoland Speedway, pacing the session with a lap of 177.200 mph.

Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards was second at 176.881, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin at 176.725.

Michael Waltrip Racing’s David Reutimann and Roush Fenway’s Greg Biffle rounded out the top five, as Richard Petty Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne, JGR’s Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing’s Clint Bowyer, Red Bull Racing’s Brian Vickers and Hendrick’s Jeff Gordon completed the top 10.

One final practice remains Friday in preparation for 400, which is scheduled to begin just after 8pm EDT Saturday.

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No. 48 team looks for redemption at Chicagoland

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 11, 2009

Chicagoland.193They lost the ’08 race to Kyle Busch in green-white-checkered finish, now Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are looking for redemption.

You don’t expect Jimmie Johnson to lose a race when he restarts from the top spot with two laps left, but that’s exactly what happened last year at ChicagolandSpeedway.

In a green-white-checkered finish, Kyle Busch raced to the lead to the outside of the No. 48 Chevrolet and kept Johnson winless at the 1.5-mile track. Like Joliet Jake of “The Blues Brothers” fame, Johnson will be on a mission when he returns to the speedway for Saturday night’s 400.

That goes double for Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, from Rockford, Ill., who craves a win in his own backyard. Lack of a win at Chicagoland is especially frustrating given that, in seven starts at the venue, Johnson has finished second twice, third twice and fourth and sixth once each.

“We still haven’t gotten the win in Chicago, so we’ll be going after it this weekend,” Knaus said. “We always run well there — I think we’ve only finished outside the top five or so twice. But for some reason, things haven’t worked out for us yet to get to Victory Lane.

“We’re taking a good car — the one we had in Michigan [where Johnson led 146 of 200 laps at the two-mile track] when we ran out of gas. So maybe this is our year we can finally get a win near my hometown.”

Johnson is nearing several significant accomplishments this season. The only driver in the modern era (since 1971) to win at least three races per year in his first seven seasons of Cup racing, Johnson needs one victory to make it eight years in a row.

Already having notched 42 wins, the three-time defending Cup champion is two victories short of tying Bill Elliott for second place among active drivers. Johnson is 15th on the all-time win list.

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