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Johnson Overcomes Setback

Posted by Digory Kirke on August 4, 2009

Monday’s rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Pocono Raceway was full of setbacks for Hendrick MotorsportsJimmie Johnson.

Jimmie Johnson's pit crew works on his car during the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania

Jimmie Johnson's pit crew works on his car during the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania

But as he does so often, the defending three-time Cup champion found a way to bounce back.

Johnson fell three laps down in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 only to get all three back courtesy of the free pass and finish 13th, on the lead lap.

“We dealt with a lot today,” Johnson said. “I have to thank my guys for working so hard and troubleshooting some different things. … We were three laps down and able to get some cautions there at the end. For a while there I thought we would get a top-10, but I pounded the wall off [Turn] 2 and tore up the right side of the car and lost a couple of spots. Just a lot of fight in this race team. I’m very proud of them.”

Johnson led the race’s opening 22 laps and continued to have one of the fastest cars on the track before coming to pit road for an unscheduled green-flag stop just past the midway point of the 200-lap race.

The team first worked to see if Johnson’s car had a plug-wire issue, but after making a change that turned out to not be the case. The team later changed the carburetor and a spark plug on subsequent stops, losing significant time during the visits to pit road as the group attempted to diagnose the problem.

The spark plugs ultimately appeared to be the source of what ailed Johnson, as he immediately began moving forward again once some of those had been replaced.

“I assume it was a spark-plug issue,” Johnson said. “That’s the last thing we started changing. The car started running better, so it’s just crazy how sometimes a little part like that can go wrong. I know our guys will lookclosely at it to make sure that something like that doesn’t happen again. I’m just so proud of the fight this race team has.

“For us to come back from three laps down and get back on the lead lap and salvage a 13th-place finish means a lot to me. I think we are going in the right direction, and it shows to me what my team is capable of and I know what I’m capable of going into the Chase [For The Sprint Cup].”

Johnson got back on the lead lap under the race’s ninth caution with under 30 laps to go and lined up 25th for the final restart with 13 to go. He gained eight positions on the first lap under green.

Although Johnson failed pick off many more spots, he was still pleased with his team’s ability to make the most of a tough situation.

Teammate Jeff Gordon was among those who took notice of the group’s effort.

“These guys, you can never count them out and that’s what makes them a championship-caliber team, and Jimmie’s a great driver,” Gordon said. “So, it’s unfortunate that they had a car that was probably capable of winning, or at least battling up there for the win, that it kind of took them out of it there. But they fought back and still had a pretty decent day out of it.”

MY WORD

Yesterday’s  performance was incredible by Jimmie and his crew. To end up 13th after being 3 laps down at one point is just incredible. Sure luck had a little bit to do with it but the way his team pulled together and didn’t give up is a testament to the dedication of this team. They could have pulled it into the garage but instead they used the time cautions gave to systematically check one thing after another until they finally found the likely culprit of a bad spark plug or plugs. When it first happened I was so mad I felt like not watching the rest of the race but I’m sure glad I did because the last 20 laps made my day.

When Johnson made it back to the lead lap and quickly moved from 25th to 10th and one point and finished out with a solid 13th keeping his place of 2nd in the points when it could have been a disastrous day.

This just shows what an AWESOME job the team does as a whole….from driver to crew to chief!! Even the way Chad had the crew “fix” their pit area; shows they are 100% in it and that’s why they are champions!!!! (Hope the guy that fell changing the tire is ok)

Today increased my confidence that my favorite driver will hopefully be heading for championship number 4!

HMS Point Standings after Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500.

2nd-Jimmie Johnson-48
3rd-Jeff Gordon-24
10th-Mark Martin-5
23rd-Dale Earnhardt Jr.-88

HMS Results-Sunoco Red Cross Pennslyvania 500.

7th-Mark Martin-5
9th-Jeff Gordon-24
13th-Jimmie Johnson-48
28th-Dale Earnhardt Jr.-88

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Denny Hamlin wins Pocono but at what cost?

Posted by Digory Kirke on August 4, 2009

Denny Hamlin may have gained a few fans Monday, but he no doubt garnered some enemies on the track as well.

Chief among them was David Reutimann who saw his hopes to make this years Chase for the Sprint Cup take a serious hit caused by a tangle with Hamlin.

During Hamlin’s relentless pursuit of the win in Monday’s rescheduled Pennsylvania 500, he was fighting his way back through traffic when on lap 174 he got behind Reutimann pushing his Toyota hard enough to spin Reutimann around and into his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Marcos Ambrose.

“I got to him coming off turn one. I drove into turn two, got to him, nudged him actually in the middle of the corner. I let go of him,” Hamlin said. He pulled away about a car length, but then he slammed on the brakes obviously to let me know he was upset.”

I plowed him off of two really hard. I said, ‘Man, all right, I understand, I get it.’ In turn three, I got to him again. He got really loose off four. When I got to him and pushed him, I was hoping he was just going to come off the corner, straighten up, I was going to push him down the straightaway. Instead, kept my throttle on him, and when I did I spun him into his teammate.

It was a lot of emotion. I got guys in my mirror that I know I got to race for the win. 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. But I got to make it up to those guys somehow, cut them some breaks on the track or something.”

Hamlin went on to win, Reutimann finished 29th while Ambrose finished 34th.

Perhaps the worst news for Reutimann though is the point’s loss. He came into the day in 13th place with a legitimate shot to make the top 12 and earn a spot in the Chase for the Championship. He lost three spots and is now 16th.

“Not sure what happened there,” Ambrose said. “We were running in the top-10 and all of a sudden David (Reutimann) got turned by the 11 (Denny Hamlin) car and I had nowhere to go. That pretty much ended our day.”

MY WORD

Denny Hamlin did not want to be at Pocono. His grandmother died and he was very emotional. Now here’s here’s where I sound like a cold heartless bastard. SUCK IT UP! Denny many of us aren’t where we want to be, or have to do something and can’t be where we want and or are needed; and yes I do inculde when a family member has died.

I was serving my country in a far away land and couldn’t go home for the funeral. I didn’t want to be where I was, but there I was. I had a job to do. I couldn’t be where I wanted to be, however nonetheless there I was. There are plenty of individuals both military and civilian who face this issue and or others like it. You are not an exception nor special because of it or the issue.

I had a lot of respect for you and in fact your one of my top ten drivers, however due to how you decided to race due to the fact you were where you didn’t want to be and decided to run over people and didn’t give one shit about it or how you won has made me decide to drop you from said list. I lost all respect for you when you went out there and decided to be an asshole and do anything to anyone to win just because you HAD to be there, like millions of us have to do day in and day out.

I am ashamed of you Denny and I’m sorry but I don’t feel your loss excuses your tactics used to win a race.


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Brickyard a Building Block toward Championship

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 30, 2009

brickborderweb

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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Kurt Busch said…

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 29, 2009

after the Chicago race on July 11th that Jimmie is not showing championship driving, typical Busch flapping his gums over something that cost him a race or incident that was (Kurt’s) own his fault.

So I wonder what he thinks now after the Brickyard 400, did he notice who won the race? He needs to go and remind Jimmie he is in question on his driving skills. I guess he was to far back to see what was going on in the race.

HMS Results-All-State 400

1st-Jimmie Johnson-48
2nd-Mark Martin-5
9th-Jeff Gordon-24
36th-Dale Earnhardt Jr.-88

HMS Point Standings after All-State 400

2nd-Jimmie Johnson-48
3rd-Jeff Gordon-24
9th-Mark Martin-5
22nd-Dale Earnhardt Jr.-88

Let’s look at the whole race standings and see just where Kurt finished. Hint look at row twenty seven:

Allstate Brickyard 400

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Who would you race?

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 26, 2009

If you could race one on one with any current driver or even a past legend who would you choose and why? Would you want to race your favorite driver, even if just to meet them? Would you want to race the driver you perceive to be the top dog? Would you choose someone you know would pass you clean?

That ultimately played into my choice. Or would you rather race someone you think you can beat?

My choice would be Jimmie Johnson. Why? Well, one he is my driver and even if I couldn’t beat him and I’m very sure I couldn’t. I’d still love to get out there on the track and race Jimmie. I’d love to see what I could possibly do, to see just how well I stacked up against him, maybe give him a run for his money. Besides it would be a once in a lifetime experience, one I’d never forget, and one where I could say even if I didn’t beat him I raced against him.

So, who would you choose and why?

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Truex, team penalized for failing Chicago inspection

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 15, 2009

Right-rear quarterpanel was too high after Saturday’s race

Martin_Truex_Jr._NASCAR announced Tuesday that Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, crew chief Kevin Manion and car owner Teresa Earnhardt have been fined for rule violations during last weekend’s event at Chicagoland Speedway. Truex was penalized 25 points in the Sprint Cup Series drivers’ standings. Manion was fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2009. Earnhardt was penalized 25 points in the Sprint Cup Series owners’ standings.

The three were penalized for violating Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock-car racing); Section 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules) and Section 20-12.8.1C (right-rear quarter panel height did not meet the required specifications; too high in post-race inspection).

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The Gray Ghost

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 8, 2009

Buddy Baker (The Gray Ghost) 1980 Daytona 500 Winner

Buddy Baker (The Gray Ghost) 1980 Daytona 500 Winner

February 17, 1980

“you really have to do something about Buddy Baker’s car,” the drivers begged NASCAR offcials. “It’s scaring the hell out of everybody.”

Baker’s ride was wicked fast, to be sure, but it was the car’s color scheme that had everyone spooked. The Olds was painted a hue so similar to the Daytona asphalt that it disappeared like a chameleon, materializing out of thin air. Dubbed the Gray Ghost, it proved to be the supernatural force that finally exorcised Baker’s Daytona demons.

In 17 previous starts, Baker won the Daytona 480 more times then he cared to remember. It was the pesky Daytona 500 he had trouble with. Over seven tries between 1973 and 1979, he led six races and more than 330 laps but failed to finish five times.

Finally, in 1980, the Gray Ghost outran Baker’s past, his bad luck, and 41 other cors. Baker led 143 of 200 laps and captured the flag with an average speed of 177.602 mph, the fastest Daytona 500 in history.

“I held down the throttle and held my breath,” Baker said. “I figured the faster I got it over with, maybe I could get done before my luck got me again.”

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