Kenny Wallace discusses if NASCAR needs a traveling safety team and more Dirt racing is a labor of love for Kenny Wallace , but you wonder if he makes any money doing it. So you ask him. "That is probably the number one question people ask me," Wallace said. "I make money but the way I make money is the exact same way Rick Hendrick makes money: sponsors. The only money you can make running the race car is maybe enough to break even. Maybe enough to pay the gas on the way to the track (laughs). I'm fortunate that I have great sponsors like Toyota and JEGS and UNOH." That's the great thing about Herman: Ask him a question and he gives you a straight answer. Now, onward we roll into this week's installment of Herman Unplugged. NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: Did you get a chance to watch any of the other races on Memorial Day? What makes for a great race in your mind and which did you enjoy the most? HERMAN: "By far, the Indy 500. That's a great conversation. Me and my friends were talking about that. The Indy 500 was created in 1911 and NASCAR is relatively new. It didn't start until the '50s, so to me, even though I'm a hardcore NASCAR guy, the greatest race in the history of the United States is the Indy 500. I'm just being real. I got goosebumps on Sunday when that Indy 500 was on. Those stands were almost near capacity; you had to look hard to find some empty seats. And the race was just fantastic, it couldn't be any better." NI: The debate about a traveling safety team for NASCAR was reinvigorated this week after the events leading into the Indy 500. Where do you stand on that? HERMAN: "At FOX TV, we are lucky. We have a really nice sit-down meeting with everybody at NASCAR each weekend. Mike Helton, Robin Pemberton, everybody. It's a meeting of the minds. I wish the fans could see what we do. Jamie Little brought that up and flat asked Mike Helton in our meeting. When we were done, I was really happy with what I heard. Nobody thinks about this: IndyCar only runs about 16 races a year. NASCAR has the Cup, Xfinity and Truck series and their point is very well validated. Do we treat the Cup drivers better because they're more famous? You'll have the Xfinity Series in Mid-Ohio and the Cup Series somewhere else. It's not as easy as it sounds because NASCAR is way more successful and we run way more races." NI: Did you have any direct experience in working with NASCAR's medical staff over the years? HERMAN: "I love NASCAR's medical liaison. When my heart started getting out of rhythm four or five years ago at Talladega, it scared me and they put me in an ambulance at about 4 in the morning. I'm being ushered down to Birmingham and come to find out I was drinking too much Mountain Dew, Coke and sweet tea. But here's what was neat: NASCAR's medical liaison was there when I got there at 5 in the morning. They were notified, jumped out of bed from their hotel rooms and were there for me. So when people say NASCAR doesn't have a traveling safety team, that's not exactly correct." NI: Kyle Busch spent a good amount of time running up front before finishing 11th in NASCAR’s most grueling race. Is it fair to say you were wrong about Rowdy coming back too soon? HERMAN: "110 percent wrong. You seen that on Twitter. I admitted I was wrong and said it loud on TV. I think what caught me off guard was medical rehab nowadays. Nobody jumped on me or was mean to me; it was basically the opposite. Everybody else was shocked, too. There were a lot of nice lady nurses that told me on Twitter that medical rehab has advanced so much. I had no idea somebody could have a compound fracture and then 10 weeks be walking around and driving a racecar at 200 mph. Once people got over the glory of telling me I was wrong, I think they themselves were in shock, too." NI: Jeff Gordon will be joining you as a colleague next year at FOX. What’s the biggest challenge he'll face in transitioning from competitor to TV? HERMAN: "I know exactly what it's going to be and he don't even know it yet: He's not gonna like being told what to do. When you go into the TV industry, you're just another employee. Darrell Waltrip has to call in Tuesday morning for conference calls. He has to be involved in these meetings at 7 o’clock in the morning. Jeff will think 'I can do what I want' but that's not the way it ends up. In the TV industry, they take those conference calls and production meetings more serious than when it's live and you're covering the race. The other thing is getting over that he's not racing anymore. That's brutally hard. The third thing is he is going to have to be really conscious of not showing any excitement for any Hendrick team. Actually, he's going to have to go the other way. He's going to have to be critical of the Hendrick teams to gain respect." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Driver focused on current job, says 'the future will work itself out' NEWTON, Iowa -- Some way or another, it seems inevitable that Ryan Blaney , currently running part-time schedules in both the Sprint Cup Series (for Wood Brothers Racing ) and XFINITY Series (for Team Penske ) is bound for a full-time Cup ride in 2016. With Roger Penske only fielding two full-time Cup entries for Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano in 2015, he loaned his developmental talent to the fellow Ford organization for roughly 18 starts to get his feet wet while future plans for the son of long-time Cup driver Dave Blaney get sorted out. As of Sunday, there have been no conversations about adding a third Cup team for Penske next season. "There hasn't (been any talk about a third Penske team)," Blaney said after wheeling the No. 22 to a fifth-place finish in the 3M 250 XFINITY race at Iowa Speedway . "We're working hard at doing what we can for the future, and that's with whatever team, you know? Our main focus is trying to finish out this year strong with the Wood Brothers." Talks about Blaney's future have intensified after the 21-year-old started third and finished fourth at Talladega Superspeedway earlier this month. An Associated Press report was published on Saturday in which Penske also confirmed that his organization isn't currently interested in expanding to three cars, but that a full season with Blaney in the No. 21 Fusion is possible, provided that enough funding is secured. "I'd hope there can be an extension … we're going to run him in about 18 races, so if we can get sponsorship for him, that gives him a chance to take a look at extending that through a full season next year. That would be our goal," Penske told the AP. "This is a partnership really with Woods' people and ours … we've got the technology and the ability to build the right pieces for them. It's like a brother-in-law." In the meantime, Blaney knows he can only control what happens on the race track, and his focus is on making the most of his time behind the respective wheels of both the Nos. 21 and 22. "We're excited to go to the (Coca-Cola) 600 next week. We're really pumped about that," Blaney said. "After our good run at Talladega and we tested at Charlotte and I thought it went really well; just really excited to get back there and we're always working to get towards the future. We can definitely have wishful thinking. "We really just focus on here and now," said Blaney. "I always say 'You do your job here in the present and the stuff for the future will work itself out.'" FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Carolina Panthers linebacker named honorary pace car driver for Coke 600 CONCORD, N.C. -- Making friends with a member of the NFL's Carolina Panthers on Tuesday wasn't all that easy for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a diehard fan of the Washington Redskins. The driver's outward allegiance to a rival team wasn't lost on Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, who rode along with Earnhardt at rapid speed at Charlotte Motor Speedway , shortly after gaining his certification to be the honorary pace car driver for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM). "It's OK. I mean, we take care of the Redskins, like I said earlier," Davis said, fully aware of his team's three straight victories against Washington. "I'm pretty sure he knows." Davis' crossover into the world of NASCAR was a seamless one, as the 10th-year pro was unfazed as a passenger for Earnhardt's five-lap thrill ride. Part of Davis' nonchalance perhaps stemmed from the similar intensity of his day job, delivering hard hits as part of the Panthers defense. "I ran that thing as hard as it'd go," said Earnhardt, who estimated he approached speeds of nearly 175-180 mph in a Richard Petty Driving Experience machine with his No. 88 colors. "I was watching him over there. He wasn't impressed. He was filming the whole thing with his phone, like he was riding down the interstate." The connection between Earnhardt and Davis reaches further than their common ground as participants in adrenaline-fueled sports. Davis' humanitarian efforts earned him recognition as the 2014 recipient of the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, an accolade sponsored by Nationwide -- an Earnhardt sponsor. Those bonds, as well as their mutual affiliation with the Charlotte community, have helped Earnhardt separate his fandom from his personal interactions with Panthers players. "Actually, it's gotten easier," Earnhardt said. "I've got a lot of friends -- real, real close friends -- that are Panthers fans and they make it real hard to pull for the Panthers the way they act and cheer for their team is just … I don't know. Some of my close buddies, they just don't have any class when it comes to the Panthers, especially when they beat the Redskins. I have to hear about it years and years later, and they beat 'em two years ago and I still hear about that. "But I got to get to know (Panthers tight end Greg) Olsen really good, working together with him on some stuff for our charities and he restored my faith in the football team. I really appreciate what they do for the Charlotte community and the area. Obviously, being a business owner in downtown Charlotte with Whisky River, they have a huge influence on our business and our company and the decisions we make, and they're something that we're very proud of. I'll always pull for the Redskins, number one, but I'm definitely warming up to the Panthers after meeting some of the players. They've got some genuine, quality people on their team, and Thomas is one of them." The two athletes exchanged helmets as gifts before their ride-along, but Earnhardt said he hadn't given much thought to making a sports crossover of his own. The 40-year-old driver said he's attended Redskins training camps in the past, but seemed content to limit his football participation to made-for-TV backyard games in Wrangler commercials. "I'm really nervous and shy, so I don't know if I'd want to put myself out there like that," Earnhardt said, noting that he was always too small to suit up in high school. "But just because I'm a fan of a particular sport doesn't mean I think I'm very talented in it at participating. I enjoy the occasional softball game with my buddies or basketball in the gym with my friends. And I love going to the training camp to see the 'Skins and just get an idea of how the team feels and how their morale is and their energy on the field is when they're training, but I don't need to be out there trying to play." Davis' own training exercise Tuesday was slightly less rigorous, but he still earned a thumbs-up from NASCAR official Wayne Auton to lead the 43-car field to the green flag in Sunday's 600-miler, stock-car racing's longest event. In some ways, Davis said, his pace-car duties are nothing new, drawing yet another parallel to Earnhardt's day job. "I'm always ready to perform on Sunday," Davis said. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sport to honor fallen service members with windshield tribute at Coca-Cola 600 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 18, 2015) — When NASCAR® drivers start their engines for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , fans will see familiar names like "Harvick," "Kenseth" and "Almirola" replaced on car windshields with "SGT Mracek," "HM3 Layton" and "CPT Argel" -- United States Armed Forces members who have fallen in service to their country. All 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will participate in "600 Miles of Remembrance" on Memorial Day Weekend to honor military service members and their families, and commemorate the launch of NASCAR: An American Salute ™, the industry's collective expression of reverence, respect and gratitude for those who have served and continue to defend our nation today. Fans can follow stories around the seven-week platform and share their personal expressions of thanks to the military using #NASCARSalutes on social media. "The NASCAR community rallying to honor the U.S. Armed Forces, past and present, has long been part of our sport's heritage," said Brent Dewar, Chief Operating Officer, NASCAR. "As part of NASCAR: An American Salute , 600 Miles of Remembrance represents a special moment in time as we pay tribute to service members who have sacrificed dearly for our freedom." Many of the service members whose names will be displayed on the race cars were chosen by the teams, and some have unique connections to the fallen. Private Dean Van Dyke, who was killed in the Vietnam War, was a relative of No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle . Army First Lieutenant Daniel Hyde, killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, served alongside Chris Clayton, tire changer on the No. 83 BK Racing team. Many of the families of the service members being recognized will be in attendance on Sunday, and will be introduced alongside the drivers during driver introductions. In addition, Charlotte Motor Speedway will host more than 6,000 active military members at the Coca-Cola 600 in honor of Memorial Day. NASCAR: An American Salute will feature various on- and off-track activities from tracks, teams and partners that show appreciation and support for the troops, and will culminate Independence Day Weekend with the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway . This weekend, NASCAR together with Honor and Remember, Inc., will display specially prepared Honor and Remember flags representing those who have died in service to our country from each of the 50 United States throughout the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Throughout the campaign, NASCAR will host military families at each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race as part of NASCAR Troops to the Track™ Presented by Bank of America. Toyota will also honor the names of fallen service members on its pace cars for the Coca-Cola 600 as part of 600 Miles of Remembrance. Later in the program, both Chevrolet and Ford will feature patriotic branding on the pace cars for races at Pocono and Michigan, respectively. Many NASCAR Official Partners have mobilized to support NASCAR: An American Salute with military-themed activations, including: • For the sixth straight year, Goodyear is rallying NASCAR fans to support members of the U.S. Armed Forces through its "Goodyear Gives Back" charitable program benefiting the Support Our Troops® organization. To kick off the program, Goodyear will once again transform its NASCAR race tires by replacing the "Eagle" sidewall design with "Support Our Troops" messaging on all tires used during Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway . This effort coincides with the May 21 launch of Goodyear's charity auction at www.Goodyear.com/GivesBack , which features autographed NASCAR memorabilia, VIP race experiences and rides on the Goodyear Blimp. • Bank of America is the presenting partner of NASCAR Troops to the Track -- a season-long program that honors members of the military and their families for their services, and treats them to a NASCAR race experience. This program is an extension of Bank of America's long-standing commitment to the military, focused on helping veterans and service members’ transition to civilian life. • NASCAR, Coca-Cola, Mars Chocolate North America, and 3M have collaborated to engage shoppers in over 180 military commissaries. On Tuesday, May 19, there will be all-day activation at Fort Bragg Commissary South featuring an appearance by Coca-Cola Racing Family Member Joey Logano , who will be giving away tickets to the Coca-Cola 600 . From May 18 to July 8, commissary shoppers can enter the 2015 Champion's Week Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week by texting "NASCARSALUTE" to 313131 or by visiting www.championsweek2015.com . • M&M's will introduce a national letter-writing campaign, in partnership with Operation Gratitude, encouraging fans to send messages of thanks and appreciation to military members. The notes will be included in more than 100,000 Operation Gratitude Care Packages which will be assembled and shipped to Troops deployed in harm’s way and to New Recruits upon their graduation from Boot Camp. • During Daytona International Speedway ’s Coke Zero 400 , all active duty military, veterans and their families can enjoy the Troops Welcome Center Presented by M&M’s. The center, which will be located in the midway, will be fully equipped with food and beverages, allowing service members to take a break and meet NASCAR drivers throughout the weekend. • In honor of the military, Miss Sprint Cup will wear NASCAR: An American Salute fire suits at the Coca-Cola 600 and Coke Zero 400 . This Sunday, NASCAR drivers will discuss 600 Miles of Remembrance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (channel 90) during a special military tribute show airing at 1 p.m. ET. The Dialed In Salute to the Troops special, hosted by Claire B. Lang, will feature interviews with several drivers as well as service men and service women from different branches of the military. During the Coca Cola 600 pre-race broadcast (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX), FOX Sports will recognize all service members who have lost their lives in the past year by displaying their names and branch of service on a graphic scroll. This will be FOX’s fifth year in a row dedicating the pre-race show to service members that have fallen in the line of duty. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Coca-Cola 600 will be broadcast live from Charlotte Motor Speedway at 6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM Radio. Additional live coverage can be found on NASCAR.com. To learn more about NASCAR: An American Salute , visit www.NASCAR.com/Salute .
Hear what the drivers had to say about the multi-car crash and the possibility of rain in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.
NASCAR Next driver set to take on Monster Mile DOVER, Del. -- Sporting a grin from ear to ear, Jesse Little walked into the media center on Thursday at Dover International Speedway ready to take on the weekend. Piloting the No. 97 Carolina Nut Company Toyota for ThorSport Racing, the 18-year-old K&N Pro Series East regular and NASCAR Next driver will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at the Monster Mile on Friday. "I've been looking forward to this weekend for a long time," Little said. "I know this is a family-owned team and we've put a lot of hard work and preparation into this weekend and I think my Camping World Truck Series start at Dover is something that still hasn't hit me yet. But I'm certainly excited and I love coming to this place. I enjoy it very much and I'm looking forward to a great weekend." Sitting side-by-side to Little during the press conference were two of the Truck Series' youngest drivers , 17-year-olds Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek . With just a total of 23 starts shared between the two drivers , they offered Little any bit of advice they could give for his first Truck start. "I'd say take it easy, especially the first lap of the race," Custer advised Little. "It's amazing how much the air affects these things. I was honestly scared for my life the first time I did it." In Custer's first start at Dover last season he finished 14th. "Just finish the race," Nemechek told Little with a chuckle. "Run as many laps as you can to get the experience." In Nemechek's first start at Dover last season he finished sixth. Little, Custer and Nemechek are all on this season's NASCAR Next roster and agree that the program has brought the young drivers together. "It makes it enjoyable for us as drivers when we know we have someone we can go to and talk to and they'll understand," Little said. "It makes it easier and at the same time it makes it fun." Manning Little's pit box is another familiar face to the young driver. Harold Holly, a 19-time winning crew chief in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and former pit boss for Little's father, Chad, who is currently NASCAR's managing director, technical inspection/officiating. Holly will be calling the shots during Friday's Lucas Oil 200 (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). "Harold and I go way back ... He's always been a great family friend," Little said" "Him and I have great chemistry and that goes the same for the ThorSport guys. It's been great to have their help. I have the ability to lean on (ThorSport teammates) Matt (Crafton) and Johnny (Sauter) and those guys and their knowledge is amazing and I'm definitely going to use that for my advantage and lean on those guys quite a bit this weekend." Lucky for Little, ThorSport Racing teammate Crafton just so happens to be a two-time Camping World Truck Series champion. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Joe Gibbs Racing driver edges Truex in Monster Mile qualifying RELATED: Full qualifying results Denny Hamlin rolled to the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday afternoon's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Dover International Speedway . Hamlin drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a fast lap of 160.121 mph on the 1-mile concrete oval. He'll start first in Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). The pole position was Hamlin's first of the season, third at the Monster Mile and 21st of his Sprint Cup career. The pole-winning lap was significantly slower than the track qualifying record of 164.444 mph set by Brad Keselowski in May. "It's great," said Hamlin, who also won the Dover pole in September 2012 and May 2013. "Obviously our car's shown speed all day long, which is something that we haven't had lately, so we're kind of building and getting a little bit better and starting to figure out our setups and whatnot. So we're getting better and obviously this kind of shows it." Martin Truex Jr ., second in the Sprint Cup standings, will share Sunday's front row in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet after notching the second-fastest lap at 159.723 mph. Kyle Larson , Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano completed the top five. Defending Sprint Cup champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick qualified sixth-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Kyle Busch , making just his second start of the season in points-paying races since returning from serious leg injuries in a February crash at Daytona, earned the 10th starting spot in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Some big names were left out of later qualifying rounds at the two elimination stages in the three-round format. Jimmie Johnson , a nine-time Dover winner in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet, was among them. After leading opening Sprint Cup practice earlier in the day, he posted just the 14th-fastest lap in Round 2, failing to make the final cut to determine the top 12 starters. "I think, in a sense, we maybe didn't make the changes we need to or thought we needed to change, because the car had so much speed in that first practice session, but it's a totally different race track," Johnson said. "And we tried to plan ahead and made some small changes, but it wasn't enough." Kurt Busch was also in that unfortunate group, making just the 13th-best lap to miss the cut for the final, five-minute round. Keselowski was the final driver to make the cut after Round 1, edging Kasey Kahne by .005 seconds for the 24th spot. The Team Penske driver ended up qualifying 19th. Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart also just missed the cut, posting the 26th-fastest lap. Jeff Green and Travis Kvapil failed to qualify for the 43-car field. Sprint Cup drivers will have their final chance to tune up for Sunday's 400-miler in a pair of practice sessions Saturday (10-10:55 a.m. ET and 1-1:55 p.m. ET, FS1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Nine-time Monster Mile winner edges Hamlin in early session RELATED: Practice 1 results Jimmie Johnson zoomed to the top of the heap Friday in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Dover International Speedway . Johnson, aiming for his 10th Dover victory this weekend, piloted the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to a best lap of 163.867 mph on the Monster Mile in preparation for Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). His lap was just shy of the track qualifying record of 164.444 mph set by Brad Keselowski in May. Denny Hamlin was second-fastest at 163.532 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a teammate to Johnson in the Hendrick No. 88 Chevrolet, was third-best at 163.473 mph. David Ragan , making his third start in the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota, was fourth-fastest at 163.339 mph. Kyle Busch , ready for his third race in his return from severe leg injuries in a February crash at Daytona, was fifth-fastest at 162.808 mph in the Gibbs No. 18 Toyota. Series leader and defending champion Kevin Harvick posted the eighth-fastest lap in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Harvick will carry a 41-point lead over Martin Truex Jr ., 10th-fastest in first practice, into Sunday's 400-miler. Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the 13th race of the season is scheduled Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1). Two practice sessions Saturday (10-10:55 a.m. ET and 1-1:55 p.m. ET, FS1) will mark the final on-track activity for Sprint Cup drivers before Sunday's main event. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Would you rather watch under the sun or stars? RELATED: Junior prefers day races over night Last week while speaking at Charlotte Motor Speedway , it came out that Dale Earnhardt Jr . thinks the daytime is the right time for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing. Junior had his reasons, and you can read them at the link above, but it got us at NASCAR.com thinking about which type of races we prefer. Some tracks shine at night, such as Bristol Motor Speedway for the annual night race there in the late summer, and fans look forward to the event months in advance. Meanwhile, other venues sparkle during the daylight. Like, how could we beat the day at Talladega earlier this season? Bright skies and that big American flag in the background. What could be better? Kathy Sheldon and George Winkler have their preferences as to which time they like races and are ready to debate. Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below. Winkler: Alright, Kathy. Boogity, boogity, boogity, let's go debating. I'll start off speaking from the heart. My first live sporting event with my dad was a day baseball game in San Francisco between the Giants and Cardinals. And as a kid I remember just how bright and green that field appeared the first time I laid eyes on it. Had it been a night game, it would have been past my bedtime. So I empathize with parents who are bringing their sons and daughters to their first race. I want them to have the same bright experience I had because that is what will set them on the path to becoming a true sports fan. Sheldon: George, we share an abiding love for baseball, as well as racing. I, too, was a wee lass when my family took me to my first game at Wrigley Field -- a day game. I would argue all day long for more day baseball, but racing is different for me. Baseball fans usually spend less than 3-1/2 hours total at the ballpark. That's including player introductions, the national anthem, and buying souvenirs before or after the game. Out of 12 races so far this season, NASCAR fans have seen five events go past the 3.5-hour mark. Just the racing. The Coca-Cola 600 was 4 hours and 3 minutes -- of baking in the sun. The deeper we go into summer, the hotter those afternoon races get. Plus, remember many NASCAR fans travel to see races. Saturday night races give them a chance to get some shut-eye then make their way home on Sunday and not miss any work vs. driving late into the night Sunday or taking a day off on Monday. Winkler: Kathy, you make a great point about the travel for the fans being more convenient on Sunday after a Saturday night race. Those of us who work in the business certainly appreciate those Sundays off, too. But stepping away from the fan experience for a bit, let's talk about the actual racing. Junior thinks there's better racing during the day because the surface is hotter, the track is slicker and the groove is wider. These are some of the reasons I love watching the race at Auto Club Speedway , for example. With a racing surface that's wide open during the day, it gives drivers the chance to try different grooves and can lead to exciting moments and different strategies. Plus, those California views! Or Phoenix or Las Vegas for that matter. Can't see those at night! Sheldon: Sticking with the fan experience for one more second, what you can see at night is the fireworks on the track. Did you not think it was the coolest thing ever the first time you saw the brake rotors glowing on 43 cars going 150-plus mph? Only at night can you see the sparks flying when the exhaust or suspension pieces hit the pavement during braking in the corners or when cars make contact. As for better racing, I like seeing the strategy of which team can beat the changing conditions. Going from early evening setting sun track temperatures to cooler night temperatures is just one more facet in the battle of man vs. machine. This spring’s Texas race didn't lack excitement, with 29 lead changes among nine drivers . Winkler: OK, you're a tough cookie to crack, Kathy. So I'm pulling out the cranky old man material. I get up early in the morning and need to get on with my day. I don't have time to sit around in a parking lot waiting for these night races. I've got places to go, people to see, yards to mow, important stuff like that. These crazy kids these days getting extra time to get all "juiced up" for these races. I like to hit the ground running in the morning and I'm ready for a good, old-fashioned 1 p.m. ET start. Get 'er done, as they say! Sheldon: George, I'll hand it to you on being a family man. I've worked nights too many years. So I would still rather be hanging out in the parking lot after a race having a sandwich and one last beer (if I'm not driving) while waiting for traffic to thin out at midnight rather than getting up with the sun. Or better yet, camping! I'd say we agree you can't really go wrong when it comes to spending time at the track as a fan, but sign me up for those warm summer nights. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Nine years ago, team selected 42nd at Dover, had to share stall RELATED: Nos. 48, 51 and 1 penalized for Charlotte infractions MORE: Hendrick appeals P1 penalty " Johnson stands by appeal The importance of a team's pit stall location isn't lost on Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team. Especially when it comes to Dover International Speedway , a fast 1-mile concrete track that has been the site of nine of Johnson's 73 wins in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. The six-time series champion has earned 19 top-10s at Dover, 15 of which came from a starting spot inside the top 10. Overall, drivers starting on the front row there have won 28 of 90 Sprint Cup races and 71 winners have come from inside the top-10 on the starting grid. A better qualifying result, and pit stall location, doesn't guarantee success, but it is one less problem for a team to deal with on race day. The order for the selection of pit stalls is based on qualifying results, with the Coors Light Pole Award winner getting first choice, and the remainder (pos. 2-43) choosing in order of their position in the starting lineup. Unless you're hit with a NASCAR penalty, which was the case this week for Johnson and the HScott Motorsports team with driver Justin Allgaier . The two teams were penalized Wednesday for receiving consecutive warnings from NASCAR for minor infractions at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 weekends. The P1-level penalty was the loss of choice in pit selection, meaning the two teams would be left with whatever pit stall locations remained after the other 41 teams had made their selections. HMS notified NASCAR officials of its intent to file an appeal on Thursday, and as a result the penalty has been deferred. No date for the appeal hearing has been announced. Now, instead of having to choose one of the last available pit stalls for Sunday's FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM), the No. 48 team's pit selection will be determined by Johnson's qualifying position in the 43-car field. Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is scheduled for Friday at the 1-mile track. Had they not appealed, it would not have been the first time Johnson and his team found themselves with a less-than-prime pit position at Dover. Before 2009, the track featured only 42 pit boxes along pit road, leaving two teams to share one pit stall. And when Johnson spun during qualifying for the spring race of 2006, his team was forced to share a pit stall with fellow driver Scott Wimmer and the Morgan-McClure Motorsports No. 4 team. Actually, they shared more than just the pit stall. Under an agreement between the two teams, Johnson's pit crew initially pitted both cars. And crew chiefs Chad Knaus (Johnson) and Chris Carrier (Wimmer) sat atop the same pit box. When pitting, whoever was higher in the running order at the time, Johnson or Wimmer, would pit first. Then the second driver would hit pit road to be serviced by the same crew. The moved ended up costing Wimmer track position when his car ran out of gas under the second caution of the race while waiting to pit. It wasn't until Hermie Sadler retired from the race after 136 laps that a pit stall opened up, allowing Wimmer and the Morgan-McClure team to move to the vacant pit box. In spite of starting at the back of the field, and going two laps down at one point in the race, Johnson was able to rebound and score a sixth-place finish. Wimmer finished 34th, four laps down. Dover added a 43rd pit stall in 2009, part of an upgrade to the facility that included widening pit road and increasing the length of each pit box by four feet. The concrete pit wall from Turn 4 to Turn 1, previously boilerplate, was also torn down and a new wall, 432 feet longer and protected by SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier, was installed in its place. No date has been set for the No. 48 team's appeal of the penalty for consecutive written warnings. Warnings, which are not appealable, are typically issued for minor, first-time infractions and the reason for the warnings isn't made public. Multiple warnings elevate the severity of the penalty to a P1 level and may result in one or more consequences besides the loss of choice in pit selection. Track time deduction in practice or qualifying, a delay in the order of inspection and selection for post-race inspection are among the other options NASCAR may impose. Johnson is a nine-time winner at the track and is the defending race winner. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule