NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce compares Jimmie Johnson to the 'Intimidator' RELATED: Johnson wins at Dover for 10th time The greatest NASCAR driver of all time is … Jimmie Johnson ? That's the word on the street, or in this case the voice on the radio, and since the bluegrass channel was on a commercial break I decided to stick around long enough to hear how that particular conclusion was reached. Such comparisons are inevitable – it's the sort of thing that arises when one is chasing legends. No different than when Jeff Gordon was piling up victories and championships in pursuit of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. No different than when Earnhardt was piling up victories and championships in pursuit of Petty. And no different than when Petty began piling up wins and titles on his way to overtaking a host of former champions, including his father, Lee, the first to win three NASCAR premier series championships. What the 39-year-old Johnson has managed to accomplish in little more than 13 full seasons in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series certainly puts him in the same league with Petty and Earnhardt, NASCAR's only seven-time champions. There's no doubt that Johnson, fit and trim and now only two wins away from matching Earnhardt's career win total of 76 victories, is one of the sport's greatest drivers. But is he No. 1? From a numbers standpoint, the Hendrick Motorsports driver will undoubtedly surpass Earnhardt's win total, and it's likely he'll eventually capture a seventh championship. He could, in fact, become the first driver to win more than seven titles. That would make him the most successful driver from a championship standpoint (neither he nor anyone else will come close to Petty's mark of 200 career wins), but will that make him NASCAR's greatest driver? No. That designation, without question, belongs to Earnhardt. Statistics are a great way to gauge success. But it takes more than numbers to measure greatness. Johnson has managed to excel during what some claim is the most competitive era in the history of NASCAR. Yes, there are more winners, on average, today. But there are also more races on the schedule, thus also more opportunities. A larger number of teams run the full schedule today, although that doesn't necessarily mean there are more "better" teams competing. Earnhardt never ran a season consisting of 36 points races; Johnson's never run in fewer than 36. Earnhardt never had the opportunity to compete at Kansas, Chicago or Kentucky; but by the same token, Johnson never raced at North Wilkesboro or Riverside. I have a strong feeling both could have won at those tracks given the chance. I'll argue that the talent pool Earnhardt often faced was just as deep – with lineups including drivers such as Petty and Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, Geoff Bodine and Harry Gant. Eventually Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace, Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Tim Richmond and others took their place. Most were champions; many are already members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Johnson is one of the greatest drivers that today's fans will ever see. What he has done has been nothing short of amazing. If one wants to argue that he would not have won 74 races and six championships had it not been for Hendrick Motorsports and Chad Knaus, the same could be said of Earnhardt, who owed much of his success to Richard Childress Racing and the talented group he worked with there. But what elevates Earnhardt above the rest is more than the fact that he was so successful. He provided fans with some of the sport's most memorable moments during his two-plus decades. Among them: winning the pole at Watkins Glen in '96 (and setting the track qualifying record, to boot) just two weeks after suffering a broken collarbone and sternum in a vicious crash at Talladega; climbing from his damaged car and into the ambulance, only to quickly exit and return to his car once he realized it would still run, at Daytona in '97; his first and only Daytona 500 victory the following season, a win that erased 19 years of heartbreak. There was the "rattle his cage" incident with Terry Labonte en route to victory in the night race at Bristol in '99; the wrongly-termed but aptly promoted "pass in the grass" on his way to winning the 1997 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; and the charge from 18th to first in the final five laps of the 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway . For two decades, greatness drove a Chevrolet and it carried the number 3. They were memorable moments that elevated the sport and defined the man. Johnson can win more races and win more championships, but he can't match that. He needn't worry – no one else can, either. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: Rules review on differences between new rules packages In the summer months, NASCAR introduced new rules packages for a handful of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. A new aerodynamic package with less downforce on the cars to create more side-by-side competition and put more in the hands of the driver was used at Kentucky Speedway in July. A similar package will be used at Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend for the Bojangles' Southern 500 on Sept. 6 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). A high drag rules package was used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month and will be used again this weekend at Michigan International Speedway for the Pure Michigan 400 (Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). This rules package reduced the speeds a bit in an effort to create more pack-style competition and drafting. Drivers have been vocal about their opinions on each new package immediately after using it in a race. And if the drivers have an opinion, surely we do as well. NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce and RJ Kraft are back to debate which rules package has been better: The high-drag setup or the low downforce package? DRIVERS GIVE REVIEWS: Kentucky package " Indianapolis package Kraft: Well, from our last H2H Kenny , you know I was no fan of tweaking the rules even for one race but I was converted after watching the Kentucky race last month. That race had a track-record number of green-flag passes (22) for the lead and a total of 2,665 green-flag passes overall, creating the exact effect the sport's governing body wanted: More side-by-side competition and more passing. The racing itself was tremendous and the late-race duel between Joey Logano and Kyle Busch was the best racing we've seen all season. The high-drag package did not seem to have any real effect on passing and there wasn't much drafting to speak. Frankly, if Kyle Busch didn't score his third straight win, the Indianapolis race doesn't stand out for any reason. And we can't forget that the setup on the cars seemed to have a major effect on how hot it got inside the driver's seat. While a change has been made for an additional NACA duct to be mounted on the right-side window for Michigan, we still need to see if that has a cooling effect greater than what we saw at Indianapolis. RELATED: Impact of heat at Indy causes slight change to cars for Michiga n Bruce : You want cool drivers or better racing, RJ? Truthfully, I do realize the heat generated is a concern, but nothing a few tweaks here and there likely won't eliminate. I don't think officials expected the changes to have an immediate impact on the racing on the track -- a slight improvement was probably more hoped for or anticipated. There's a lot of real-time data to digest that otherwise wouldn't have been acquired. You can't get to Point B without going through Point A first. And don't forget the tire situation -- while the Kentucky package seemed to provide better racing even without tires that were built for the low downforce package, those built for Indy weren't tested with the high drag package either. Just another piece of the puzzle that's still being built. TECH TALK: High drag package built specifically for Michigan Kraft: How about the driver reaction? Despite limited practice time with the low downforce package at Kentucky, pretty much all the drivers loved it and were quite vocal about how much they enjoyed racing with that particular rules package. Drivers liked the fact that they had more control and that there was more passing. As a fan it was exciting to see how often there were cars three-wide and four-wide in that race. And if the drivers are happy and pleased with the rules that are in place, that speaks volumes. While some wanted further tweaks with the low downforce package, the garage seemed to think the Kentucky results were one heck of a first step. That wasn't the case at Indianapolis after the high-drag package was run. I suppose we should wait until it's run a second time this weekend before we condemn it, especially since officials have said this package was specifically built for Michigan. Bruce : There is a world of difference in Kentucky and Indianapolis. Just because the high drag rules didn't totally change the action at Indy is no reason to toss it out. No doubt some things were learned from the weekend. Michigan is a much wider track with better opportunities to work in another racing groove. Maybe it wasn't the final answer for Indy, but let's give it a chance before say it won't work elsewhere. As Jeff Gordon noted, as long as drivers have room to maneuver around the cars in the turns the package has potential. As teams get more opportunities to work with the different set-ups, some will be able to make them work faster than others, and that's always been the case. It may not be the final answer, but it might be a step. And we won't know until we see it in action some more.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Buddy Baker passed away Monday, and we'll remember his life with stories, videos and photos ... Senior writer Kenny Bruce details Kevin Harvick 's finish at Watkins Glen after the driver of the No. 4 ran out of fuel late ... The Rundown will recap how every driver in the field fared, 1-43. TUESDAY: This week's Power Rankings presented by Outback is sure to get a shakeup now that Joey Logano has two wins on the season, and has looked great in recent weeks ... @nascarcasm will have his winner's Facebook page, as well as vanity license tags for NASCAR drivers ... Hear the best from the scanner in "Scanner Sounds." WEDNESDAY: New paint schemes will be on display at Michigan and Mid-Ohio, and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview ... High 5 presents the best NASCAR content from around the web ... Chris Buescher , the NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader, returns to Mid-Ohio, the site of his first national series win. THURSDAY: Driver Reports highlights the 16 drivers currently on the Chase Grid, and how they fare at Michigan ... The high drag package returns at Michigan, and we'll break down one that means -- and how it's different from the low downforce setup ... Speaking of those new packages, which one has been better? Kenny Bruce and RJ Kraft debate. FRIDAY: The Sprint Cup Series gets on track at 11 a.m. ET, and we'll have full coverage from a busy day at the track ... 8 Tweets You Might Have Missed highlights the best from social media over the past week. Also coming this week: @nascarcasm is doing a voice-to-text interview with Andy Lally . We're sure that will go super smooth.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell looks back at Michigan's high-drag package and the confiscation of the No. 2 and 22 splitters ... Preview Tuesday's Danica Patrick announcement ... The Rundown will recap how every driver in the field fared, 1-43. TUESDAY: Stewart-Haas Racing and Danica Patrick will have an announcement, and you can watch the live stream here ... Friends and fans will say goodbye to Buddy Baker, and senior writer Kenny Bruce will attend the memorial ... This week's Power Rankings presented by Outback are back with Matt Kenseth potentially capitalizing on his third win of the season ... @nascarcasm will have his winner's Facebook page ... Hear the best from in-car radio synched with video on "Scanner Sounds" ... The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is on track for practice at 2 p.m. ET from Bristol Motor Speedway. WEDNESDAY: New paint schemes will be on display at Bristol, and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview, including the return of Jeff Gordon 's rainbow paint scheme ... High 5 presents the best NASCAR content from around the web ... The "Who said it" quiz returns as we pit NASCAR drivers vs. U.S. presidents on Bill Clinton's birthday ... The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series roars to life in the rare mid-week race, and we'll have the live leaderboard and more. THURSDAY: Driver Reports highlights the 16 drivers currently on the Chase Grid, and how they fare at Bristol ... For #TBT, we'll look at Jeff Gordon 's best paint schemes and celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt rattling Terry Labonte 's cage ... The FedEx Preview Show gets you ready for 500 laps under the lights at the World's Fastest Half-Mile. FRIDAY: The XFINITY Series gets on track at 9 a.m. ET, and the Sprint Cup Series takes to the concrete at 11:30 a.m. ET, and we'll have full coverage from a busy day at the track ... 8 Tweets You Might Have Missed highlights the best from social media over the past week. Also coming this week: @nascarcasm will highlight "corrections" that his editors have made to his pieces and he'll have a flowchart to let you know if you are Paul Menard , who turns 35 on Friday.
RELATED: Chase Grid " Chase bubble watch " Chase Fest details A year ago, it was Kasey Kahne . Only two races remained before the start of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and the Hendrick Motorsports driver was 13th in points. Unfortunately, he was outside the top 16 in the Chase standings. Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola trailed Kahne in points. But they were among those that had wins. They had invitations to the dance. At the time, Kahne had managed only two top-five finishes. His average finishing position was 16.8. He hadn't been to the victory lane since midway through the previous season. So he and his team went out and won at Atlanta Motor Speedway . It earned Kahne one of the final Chase spots and the No. 5 team a second chance. It wasn't quite as easy as it sounds. Kevin Harvick , as was often the case, was dominant at AMS. Kahne fell a lap down early. The team battled back. He didn't take the lead for the first time until Lap 303 of the scheduled 325-lap race. Suddenly, he seemed to be on his way to the win. Then cautions appeared, forcing two late restarts. Green, white, checkered late. Kahne's lead was lost on pit road. Yet somehow he muscled his way past Matt Kenseth coming to the white flag, holding on for the win and a spot in the Chase. It's a similar position for the 35-year-old this year. Two races remain -- stops at Darlington Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- before the field is finalized for this year's 10-race run to determine the Sprint Cup champion. Kahne is once again winless. He is not alone. Teammate Jeff Gordon has finished inside the top five only three times this year. The four-time champion is ahead of Clint Bowyer in the playoff picture, with a wider margin back to folks such as Aric Almirola and Greg Biffle . A year ago Gordon had three wins and a vise-like grip on first place in the points. Bowyer's got a pair of top-fives, but much of the attention around the No. 15 team of Michael Waltrip Racing centers on where Bowyer will call home next season. Paul Menard has a razor-thin lead on Gordon in points, but taking nothing for granted. Can anyone? Matt Kenseth 's blown engine at Bristol last week, leaving the Joe Gibbs driver 42nd in the final rundown, didn't go unnoticed. Things not only can happen, they often do. With 10 drivers already secure -- 11 if you go ahead and give Kyle Busch one of the spots although he's close enough to the fault line that a misstep could make things interesting -- and two races remaining, at least three of this year's Chase spots will be filled based on the points standings after Richmond. It could be five, if no new winner emerges in the next two weeks. Few on the fringes, though, have shown signs of contending for wins. Almirola? One top five and only three laps led this season. Biffle? It's shaping up to be the wrong type of career year for the Roush Fenway Racing driver, with just two top-fives and an average finish of 20th. Austin Dillon ? Kyle Larson ? Both have shown potential. Both are winless. Kahne? Well, who knows? The question isn't can it be done. Kahne's already proven that it's possible. The question is who among those can pull it off?
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Kenny Bruce writes on Furniture Row Racing , which is rumored to be considering a manufacturer switch to Toyota ... Kyle Busch won for the third time in four races; see exactly what he has to do to clinch a Chase berth ... The Rundown analyzes how every driver fared at New Hampshire. TUESDAY: This week's Power Rankings presented by Outback has a new No. 1 driver; who is it? Could Kyle Busch climb that high? ... @nascarcasm has his weekly winner's Facebook page, so get ready Kyle Busch ... For the second week in a row, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske were the cars to beat, as Pat DeCola reports ... Want to know how Eldora works? We'll tell you. WEDNESDAY: New paint schemes will be on display at Indianapolis and Eldora, and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview ... Speaking of Eldora, there's plenty of action on the dirt track, and it begins at 10:30 a.m. ET. The race itself starts at 9 p.m. ET. We'll have live leaderboards of it all ... While you're watching the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, vote on who you think will win at Indy. THURSDAY: Driver Reports highlights the 16 drivers currently on the Chase Grid, and how they fare at Indianapolis ... Senior writer Kenny Bruce will look back at Jeff Gordon 's top Brickyard moments ... Jessica Ruffin, for #TBT, throws it back to Tony Stewart 's first win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. FRIDAY: The Sprint Cup Series gets on track at 9 a.m. ET, and we'll have full coverage from a busy day at the track ... 8 Tweets You Might Have Missed highlights the best from social media over the past week ... Kissing the bricks? @nascarcasm has a take on that. Also coming this week: High Five, which drops Wednesday, highlights the best NASCAR content from around the internet ... the Major League Baseball trade deadline is coming up, which got RJ Kraft thinking about some possible NASCAR driver trades.
Jonathan Merryman and Kenny Bruce analyze break down how practice has helped the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams adjust to the new 'high drag' package and look to the XFINITY Series race to get ready for 400 miles at the Brickyard.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Brad Keselowski inadvertently hit his crewmen on pit road and found himself 37th. So how did he rally to finish second? RJ Kraft explains ... Stu Hothem catches up with Jeff Gordon , who tied his best finish of the year on Sunday at Pocono by finishing third ... The Rundown takes a look at how every driver in the field performed. TUESDAY: This week's Power Rankings presented by Outback is sure to get a shakeup now that Matt Kenseth has two wins on the season ... It's Jeff Gordon 's birthday, and we're looking back at his career through photos ... Kathy Sheldon identifies Sprint Cup drivers at age 40 (or older), and what their careers look like. WEDNESDAY: New paint schemes will be on display at Watkins Glen, and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview ... The Glen provides the opportunity for an unknown to sneak out a win, and you can vote on who that might be in our winners poll ... High 5 presents the best NASCAR content from around the web. THURSDAY: Driver Reports highlights the 16 drivers currently on the Chase Grid, and how they fare at Watkins Glen ... We'll catch you back up on the nuances of road course qualifying ... This week's #TBT involves a man named Dale Earnhardt and a broken sternum. FRIDAY: The Sprint Cup Series gets on track at 9 a.m. ET, and we'll have full coverage from a busy day at the track ... 8 Tweets You Might Have Missed highlights the best from social media over the past week. Also coming this week: @nascarcasm has a busy week, including Matt Kenseth 's post-race Facebook page, and texts Jack Roush might have received after Darrell Wallace Jr . and Chris Buescher had another incident ... We'll give you the highlights of the weekend in GIF form ... Senior Writer Kenny Bruce heads to North Wilkesboro. Find out why.
NASCAR.com's Chuck Bush and Kenny Bruce break down what it will take to get the win in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
SiriusXM NASCAR Radio announced Tuesday that race car driver Kenny Wallace will become a radio host for "The Late Shift" on the network, starting Tuesday night from 7-10 p.m. ET. Wallace will replace NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Buddy Baker, who passed away last week and will be honored at a memorial on Tuesday afternoon in Charlotte. RELATED: Buddy Baker remembered Earlier this month at Iowa Speedway, Wallace ended his NASCAR national series career with a 15th-place finish in a Joe Gibbs Racing XFINITY car. He will continue in his role as an analyst on FOX Sports 1's "NASCAR Race Day" and "NASCAR Victory Lane" as well as a "NASCAR Illustrated" columnist . He looks forward to adding another medium to the list. RELATED: Wallace gets emotional surprise in last start "I'm excited; I've always wanted to do radio ever since I was a kid growing up in St. Louis, and I just want to make sure that everybody knows the way I feel about doing this." The driver, who ranks 14th with 904 NASCAR national series starts, paid tribute to Baker in announcing his new role on "The Morning Drive" show. "I absolutely loved and still love Buddy Baker," Wallace said. "We did some TV back in 1994 when it was the old (TNN) Network. Buddy was just a lover to me, always so nice to me. We got along really well so everyone is correct. I will never be able to fill his shoes, but I'm honored to have been asked to do this. We'll have fun talking about NASCAR and everything else." Wallace will join Brad Gillie on Mondays and Tuesdays, live from his race shop in St. Louis.