September 18, 2015 |
ANOTHER SEPTEMBER, another Chase. The 10-race format is designed to maintain interest in NASCAR while the NFL and college football seasons and baseball playoffs are heating up. For openers, the first Chase race dives into the Chicago market Sunday, where it will compete for attention with the revived Cubs and the always popular Bears. Then the Chase caravan moves on to New Hampshire and Dover, Del. The final Chase race again will be in Homestead, Fla., on Nov. 22. As usual, there are strong contenders from the heavyweight-class teams: Joe Gibbs Racing has four teams in the Chase, Hendrick Motorsports qualified three, and Penske Racing has two. There are also first-time Chasers Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard.
September 11, 2015 |
WE SUSPECT several Sprint Cup series drivers are not sleeping well this week, since Saturday night's race at Richmond will determine the 16-driver field for the Chase, which begins Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway. Drivers facing days and nights of stress include Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon. They are 16th through 20th and all are winless this season. If any of them win at Richmond, they'll be in the Chase. If a driver who already has a victory this year wins again Saturday, Clint Bowyer - in 15th place and also winless - needs only to finish 28th or better to hold a Chase spot.
July 9, 2015 |
FOR A FEW moments early Monday at Daytona International Speedway, Austin Dillon didn't know where he was. Understandable, since he was airborne in a 3,500-pound race car. "I remember getting launched up," Dillon said yesterday on a conference call. "And then the first violent part of the wreck was when we turned upside down. It just happened so quick, and I knew at that point it was going to be big. "[I] tensed up and kind of just really gripped the wheel hard. When we hit the catch fence first, I didn't realize where I was on the track, if I was getting hit by a car or what it was because it happened so fast.
November 14, 2014 |
AFTER ALL the racing, crashing and fighting, the Chase's final four are pumping their gas pedals, ready to roll. Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick are the only drivers eligible to win the championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. None has won a Sprint Cup series title. The champion doesn't have to win the Homestead race: He just has to be the highest finisher among the final four. As we pointed out 2 weeks ago, the champion could be Newman, who is winless this year and has led 17 only laps in the Chase (see accompanying box)
September 26, 2014 |
ROBIN PEMBERTON has been NASCAR's vice president of competition and racing development for 10 years. It's a stressful job that includes handling complaints and disciplining drivers and race teams. Prior to moving into his VP position, Pemberton was a Cup series crew chief for Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin and Kyle Petty. So Pemberton always will be empathetic toward crew chiefs for the stress they endure, particularly during the Chase. Prior to races crew chiefs probably make hundreds of decisions regarding their teams.
June 8, 2014 |
LONG POND, Pa. - This is the threat Jimmie Johnson poses to his Sprint Cup rivals: "[He's] good enough to win the championship, year in and year out," Carl Edwards said yesterday, before qualifying for tomorrow's Pocono 400. "They're basically the only team that's able to do that. Performance-wise, it's the model of how all of us would like to perform. When Johnson, a six-time Cup champion, went winless in the season's first 11 races, whispers began: If he doesn't win soon he might not even make the Chase.
July 12, 2013
Camping World RV Sales 301 New Hampshire Motor Speedway Loudon, N.H. When: Sunday, 1 p.m. TV/Radio: TNT/WNPV (1440-AM) Course: 1.058-mile oval Distance: 301 laps/318.458 miles Forecast: partly cloudy, low 80s Last year's winner: Kasey Kahne Last year's pole: Kyle Busch, 133.417 mph Track qualifying record: Ryan Newman, 135.232 mph (July 2011) Track facts: NASCAR declined to penalize any of the 31 drivers whose cars failed inspection last week at Daytona.
June 10, 2013 |
LONG POND, Pa. - Jimmie Johnson absolutely dominated Sunday at Pocono Raceway for his third victory of the season. The Sprint Cup points leader, Johnson pulled away on both of the last two restarts over the final 10 laps of the Party in the Poconos 400 to pull into Victory Lane at Pocono for the first time since 2004. Johnson also won the Daytona 500 as well as the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville this season. He led for 128 of 160 laps for his 63d career Cup victory, and was never seriously challenged.
June 7, 2013 |
LONG POND, Pa. - It's go time for Denny Hamlin. With 13 races remaining before NASCAR's Chase for the Championship begins, Hamlin is 26th in points. After recuperating from a compression fracture in a lower vertebrae sustained in a race crash March 24 at California, Hamlin has had two top-five finishes. At Dover last Sunday, after qualifying fastest and leading 41 laps, he crashed late in the race when the right front tire on his No. 11 Toyota shredded; he finished 34th. Hamlin's only hope is to win races and gain a wild-card berth in the Chase.
June 2, 2013 |
DOVER, Del. - Denny Hamlin has tried to learn to love Dover. He just can't. Not yet, at least. Maybe Hamlin has to learn to win at Dover before he can truly embrace the mile concrete oval. Hamlin has been tormented for years by the track and voiced his disdain for Dover as finishes in the 30s or worse piled up. Hamlin also knows he can't focus on the past disappointments. He has to conquer his Dover demons and try to win there if he wants to keep alive his long-shot bid to make the Chase.