DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson 's NASCAR premier series career is a story of numbers. Wins? He's at 74 and counting, eighth most in the series and second among active drivers. Championships? Six, trailing only the seven won by NASCAR Hall of Fame members Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Second-place finishes? He's got 46 of those, also second most among active participants. The only item that Johnson can't put a number on involves retirement. "No, I do not have a number and I have not picked a number," Johnson said Friday at Dover International Speedway , site of Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "As a kid growing up racing and as I got in the sport, I didn't say 'when I get to this age, I'm going to step down.' I haven't had that conversation and have not picked a number with my wife and said, 'OK honey, this is the point that I am going to stop.' It's really based on feel, and I have Chani's support on that as well. "When I feel like it's time, I am going to make that decision. Certainly (I) don't feel like it's time now." That may be bad news for his fellow racers. Johnson is the only driver to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup every year; he's won multiple races every year since his first full season in 2002 and he has finished outside the top five in points only twice during his 14-year career. In a sport that changes constantly, Johnson and success have been linked since Day 1. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon , 44, is stepping aside at year's end. Fellow series champion Tony Stewart , also 44, has announced that 2016 will be his last as a Sprint Cup Series driver. "I remember watching Rusty ( Wallace ) pick a number and then remember talking to (him) in years following that and I still think he's mad he stopped," Johnson said. "I think he feels like he could be out here racing with us and winning races. "So conversations with him, with Dale Jarrett, with other guys ... I have always been curious. Why, when, what tells you to stop? Mark (Martin) tried a half dozen times to retire and couldn't walk away. "So I want to make sure I do it once and not keep coming back." What he's looking for, he said, is "the moment." "That moment that you say, ‘Alright, it's time.' When that shows up, then I will step down." The final race in this year's Challenger Round is set for Sunday. It will be Johnson's 500th career start, and his fifth-place points position makes him a shoo-in to be one of the 12 drivers who advance into the Contender Round. Becoming a member of Hendrick Motorsports , paired with sponsor Lowe's and crew chief Chad Knaus, the success that followed has "been a life-changing experience," Johnson said, "something I dreamed of. "But I still couldn't have dreamed this big and have this much take place for us."
2013 Hall of Fame inductee fought off Gordon for Loudon victory In the summer of 1993, NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace was in the middle of one of his most successful seasons as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Wallace would finish the season with 10 wins, 19 top-five finishes and 21 top-10 finishes. The then-36-year-old would also win the first Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Wallace was always a regular in Victory Lane during his driving days with a total of 55 career wins. Despite this impressive statistic, Wallace always came up short at New Hampshire -- except for his first trip there. In the 1993 Slick 50 300, he executed a well-deserved victory lap after leading a total of 106 laps. In a race that spanned for nearly three hours, Wallace fought his way to the front. His first lead lap didn't come until after the halfway mark at Lap 168. Jeff Gordon and Davey Allison each had their turn up front until the No. 2 Team Penske Pontiac took over for the race's final 30 laps. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Relive the moment where Jeff Gordon uses a bump and run to pass Rusty Wallace in the final laps of the 2002 Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Champion drivers among NASCAR drivers at Pocono Poker Tournament WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- "Shuffle up and deal." And with those words the fourth annual Pocono Poker Tournament, benefiting The NASCAR Foundation and the Jeff Gordon 's Children's Foundation kicked off on Thursday night at the Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Hundreds of fans came from all over to meet NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Rusty Wallace , and four-time NASCAR premier series champion Jeff Gordon . Both drivers received big applause from the crowd before the tournament got underway. Gordon and Wallace weren't the only NASCAR drivers to take part in Texas Hold'em as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Michael Annett and Matt DiBenedetto were on hand as were NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers Jennifer Jo Cobb , Ryan Ellis , Daniel Hemric , Ben Kennedy and Garrett Smithley . The 22-year-old Smithley, who is looking to make just the second Truck Series start of his career at Pocono, was the last driver eliminated from the action. Two-time Camping World Truck Series champion and FOX Sports 1 analyst Todd Bodine played, as did Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton (who is also the Board Chairman for The NASCAR Foundation). In addition to the poker tournament, there was also a silent auction that took place with items such as a signed skateboard of Tony Hawk's, a pair of Annett's racing shoes and signed die-casts and other racing memorabilia available to bid on. "NASCAR Foundation events such as the Pocono Poker Tournament showcase how the synergy of NASCAR partners, celebrities and fans can make a huge impact in the lives of children," The NASCAR Foundation Executive Director Lorene King said in a release provided by the foundation and the track. "We appreciate the support of Pocono Raceway and Mohegan Sun Pocono and look forward to using funds raised to bring technology to local middle schools in 2016." Gordon had long wanted to be involved with this event as poker is one of his hobbies. "I've heard of this event for several years and I've always wanted to try and get a chance to play in it," Gordon said before the cards were dealt. "For tonight to be the first time, and to honor our foundation and support that as well as The NASCAR Foundation and this being my final Pocono race, it is a fantastic opportunity for me to not only play for a great event and a great cause but interact with the fans. I look forward to that too. I'm sure they are all going to want to beat me." The Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation was started in 1999 and supports children battling cancer by funding programs that improve patients' quality of life, treatment programs that increase survivorship and pediatric medical research dedicated to finding a cure. In addition to supporting the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital in Concord, North Carolina, the foundation also supports ongoing research at the Riley Hospital for Children in Indiana. Wallace , who was the 1989 premier series champion, admitted he was a much better golfer than poker player, but he did share an interesting teaching moment he received several years ago at a celebrity event in Las Vegas from 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker. "He said 'what do you know about poker?' I said, 'nothing.' He said, 'OK. I'm going to sit in the front row and I'm going to watch you. You just look at me and whatever I tell you to do, you do.' I said, 'OK.'" Wallace said Moneymaker added, 'When I say go all-in, you go all-in.' So I'm sitting there and I'm playing along and I look at him and he goes 'do it.' And I went all-in and everybody else just folded. So I'm like, wow that's pretty cool. I ended up having the most money when it was all said and done because everyone else blew their money so quick." In total, $57,484 was raised, which was the highest total in the event's history and will be split evenly with the two charities. On Friday, Pocono Raceway President/CEO Brandon Igdalsky presented Gordon during his media availability session with a check for an additional $24,000. "We want to thank all the participants in last night's Pocono Poker Tournament," Igdalsky said in a release provided by the track and foundation. "We were blown away by the number of attendees, VIP players and by how much money was raised for both The NASCAR Foundation and the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation. Additionally, a big thanks to Mohegan Sun Pocono for hosting an amazing event and for all their support these last four years. I cannot wait to start planning next year’s event."
Daughter Brittany reveals a special helmet for Iowa race RELATED: Grand marshal added to Wallace's Iowa duties " Racing with nephew Matt NEWTON, Iowa -- Until Friday, Kenny Wallace 's plans to hang up his NASCAR driving helmet this weekend at Iowa Speedway were only missing one small detail -- the helmet itself. His former team kept deflecting his phone calls, telling him not to worry and that his helmet would be there for the 905th start of his long, storied NASCAR career. The smokescreen was effective -- it bought his daughter Brittany enough time to have it professionally painted with a commemorative collage of snapshots and memories from his 26 years in the sport. While Wallace's time behind the wheel in NASCAR will end with Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 presented by New Holland (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), the sport won't be saying goodbye to one of its most charismatic characters, who will remain a presence both in TV broadcasting and at local dirt tracks. Though there will be some finality after he steps away Saturday night, Wallace said he'll do his best to keep his emotions in check along the way. "I think there's going to be moments and I hope that it happens after the race, but I've done a pretty good job at my career to really focus in on what I have to do," said Wallace , who will carry backing from the race's title sponsor on his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. "I remember when Ernie Irvan got hurt (in 1994) and I was in that Texaco/Havoline car in the Cup Series, I was shifting the gears getting on the high banks there at Bristol and I could hear the roar of the crowd, and I was like, 'No. Focus.' "I've learned a lot along the way. I've watched Jeff Gordon this year; I don't even know how he can go. I've learned a lot. I'm ready to race, and then we'll deal with everything after the race and when I get out of the car." That theory held true for about 30 minutes after his arrival at the .875-mile track, when Brittany Wallace handed over the special surprise to her father in front of a group of friends and family. Short of choking up, the 51-year-old Wallace said he had sworn he would not be emotional, but was genuinely moved by the gift. Wallace joked that he hopes to amend the helmet's graphics Saturday night, changing his nine career XFINITY wins to an even 10. But the joke belied his ever-sharper focus with top-shelf JGR equipment underneath him for this weekend's swan song. "If he's saying he's blocking it out, he's way better at doing something like that than I am," said older brother Mike Wallace , like his sibling a nine-time winner in NASCAR national competition. "He said he's happy with it, content. All I can say is more power to him. It's outstanding. I just ran into him over there and he's got his family and friends, he's the grand marshal for a (K&N Series) race tonight, he's got a suite here. He seems to be having fun right now. He said, 'I've got to go sign some hats,' and I was like, 'Go be famous. That's what you're good at.'" The nature of the family-affair weekend has even more ties. Kenny Wallace will share the track with his nephew, Matt, who is scheduled to make his second career XFINITY Series start Saturday night. His farewell race will also take place on a short track designed by oldest brother Rusty Wallace , a NASCAR Hall of Famer. The eldest Wallace ended his driving career in 2005, but like his brother, he remained active in the sport with broadcasting stints in television and radio. It's why both Wallaces have shied away from calling the occasion "retirement" with a capital R. "I wish him all the luck in the world," said Rusty Wallace , speaking Thursday at a charity event in Pennsylvania for The NASCAR Foundation and the Jeff Gordon 's Children's Foundation. "I told him the other day, do not use that word retirement. You don't need to do that. They'll label you with that. I said notice Jeff Gordon said he's quitting, but he's not retiring, but he's never going to race again. So he's kind of retiring but he's not going to use that word. He learned that from me and Mark Martin . I told Kenny, you didn't need to do that. He'll be fine." So if anyone was hoping to get rid of Kenny Wallace after this weekend, tough luck. The driver known for his boundless energy, his grace with racing fans, his social media presence, his extracurricular dirt-racing travels and his broadcasting moxie isn't going anywhere. After 900-plus starts dating back to a 1988 debut at Martinsville Speedway, driving the No. 8 ride owned by Dale Earnhardt in what is now the XFINITY Series, Wallace said simply that "there needs to be a line in the sand" for his driving career. Staying power in NASCAR can often be fleeting and rare, a fact that has made Wallace even prouder of his long run in the sport's highest levels. Wallace's helmet is anchored by the words "Life is a journey," a well-worn adage he said he always tells his three daughters. Wallace's own journey will enter its next phase after Saturday night. "My mom, Judy, she said to me, 'Kenny, hon. You keep reinventing yourself,' " Wallace said. "I'm like 'really, Mom?' It's not a plan, it's just that I want to stay in the sport. I think longevity and persistence is what I'm so proud of, because let's face it, I was never an 'A' driver. To me, I feel proud saying I was a 'B-plus' driver. I won nine XFINITY races, 177 top-10s -- I mean, that counts for something. When I should've been down and out, I stayed digging." Contributing: RJ Kraft from Pocono Raceway FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Veteran driver will pilot No. 20 Toyota before calling it a career RELATED: Buy Iowa tickets " HERMAN UNPLUGGED: The retirement edition Kenny Wallace will make the final start of his NASCAR career at Iowa Speedway in the U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland (Aug. 1, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, MRN, SiriusXM). The race at Iowa will mark the end of a 26-year NASCAR career and will also serve as his series-record 547th career start in the series. The veteran driver will go behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing at the short track. Wallace finished 23rd in the May race at Iowa and his race will be the third start of the season for the 51-year-old. "To me, this isn't a sad moment; I'm at a truly happy place in my life right now," Wallace said in a release from Rusty Wallace Incorporated. "After all, not too many guys get to have the privilege of being a NASCAR driver, especially for as long as I have. I really wanted to end my long career on a positive note and I'm very excited about our chances in Iowa. The No. 20 team is one of the best in the sport and I'm looking forward to having a chance to end my NASCAR career with a great finish. I really want to thank U.S. Cellular for helping me make that happen." Wallace has made 344 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts in addition to 13 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. However, all nine of his national series wins have come in the XFINITY Series. In 1991, Wallace finished as the runner-up in the standings for that series. Heading into the Iowa race, Wallace has completed the most laps in XFINITY Series history with 101,673. On the Sprint Cup side, Wallace's best finishes were a trio of runner-up showings at Loudon (in 1999), Talladega (in 2000) and Rockingham (in 2001). In addition to still competing every so often, Wallace has served as a NASCAR analyst for FOX Sports, appearing on FOX Sports 1's "NASCAR RaceDay" and "NASCAR Victory Lane" programs. He also does a "Herman Unplugged" feature, offering his opinions on the hot topics in the sport, for NASCAR Illustrated that appears on NASCAR.com. "Growing up as a kid and watching my Dad race in Rolla, Missouri, I never dreamed that I'd have the chance to do what I've done in my life," Wallace said. "I've had a long and successful career and I've been able to support my family doing what I love. To me, it doesn't get any better than that. I'm really proud of everything that I've been able to accomplish in NASCAR. "I've been fortunate enough to be able to turn my NASCAR driving career into another career doing something else I love -- that's working with FOX Sports on television. Those guys have been great to me and I get a lot of happiness from being able to educate the fans about the sport that I love. I'm going to stay involved in the sport through TV and I'm going to stay behind the wheel in my dirt cars, too. "You know, everyone experiences change at some point and I'm honestly looking forward to opening the next chapter in my life. As always, I promise that I'm going to have a lot of fun doing it." The No. 20 XFINITY Series car has seen five drivers take turns behind the wheel this season for JGR. Erik Jones has made nine starts, while Matt Kenseth has made three, Denny Hamlin has made two and Ross Kenseth and David Ragan have each made one start in the car. Jones won at Texas, while Hamlin won at Richmond in the car for crew chief Mike Wheeler. The No. 20 team enters the New Hampshire race weekend fourth in the owner standings for the XFINITY Series. Hamlin will pilot the car at the Magic Mile.
Although Rusty Wallace is most known for driving the No. 2 " Blue Deuce" for Penske Racing, his 1989 championship came with Blue Max Racing. He had 55 wins over his 25-year career and continues in the sport as a car owner and ESPN broadcaster.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Rusty Wallace
Rusty Wallace gets his 55th and final career victory at Martinsville Speedway on April 18, 2004 in the Advance Auto Parts 500.
Kenny Wallace : X Games brother retired too soon; Pearn keys turnaround