Matthew Dillner and Chuck Bush stroll through the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway as teams prep for the Hisense 300 and a chance to battle in the Dash 4 Cash.
Three wins and a title short of Dale Sr., Jimmie on verge of milestones Jimmie Johnson could wind up at the end of the 2015 season with two very noteworthy accomplishments in the world of stock car racing. Neither is a given. In fact, a year from now we could be sitting here in front of our keyboards -- or mobile devices, if you choose -- pondering the same situation. Yet with each passing week, the Hendrick Motorsports driver seems to inch closer to a level few have attained in NASCAR. His latest victory, No. 73, came just this past weekend at Kansas Speedway . Now eighth on NASCAR’s all-time win list, he’s long been ahead of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace , who checked in at No. 9 with 55 career wins when he checked out back in 2005. Just ahead, perhaps a straightaway in racing terminology, is Dale Earnhardt. The Intimidator. One of the greatest -- some say THE greatest -- racers the world of NASCAR has ever known. Only three wins separate the two. Three wins. Johnson already has three wins this year and the season’s less than one-third complete. Johnson, 39, said earlier this year that catching Earnhardt hasn’t been on his mind. That was after he won at Atlanta, if memory serves, and only two races into the season few teams know which direction their year will go. The picture seems much clearer today. All three of the No. 48 team’s wins this year have come on 1.5-mile tracks -- Atlanta, Texas and now Kansas. If you’re going to be tough to beat on one particular type of track, the mile-and-a-halves are a good choice. The series’ 36-race schedule is littered with them. Charlotte’s up next and in case you were wondering, it’s a mile-and-a-half as well. Seven of Johnson’s 73 wins have come at CMS, and he’s the defending champion of the track’s annual Coca-Cola 600 , scheduled for a week from Sunday. Teammate Jeff Gordon matched Earnhardt’s victory total nearly a decade ago and then went sailing on ahead. A four-time champion with 92 career wins, Gordon has passed NASCAR Hall of Famers Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison in the years since. He’ll hang it up at year’s end and his final win total will be just that. But success isn’t measured only in victories. Championships cement a driver’s status long after he’s gone. It’s been that way for Richard Petty, the first to win seven titles, and for Earnhardt, the second. Gordon notched four and seemed a sure bet to be the next, but then the Chase came along and while he’s been close (finishing second in ’07 and third in ’09), close doesn’t take home the trophy. Johnson won two titles almost before folks knew he spelled his first name with an “ie.” All six of his championships have come under the Chase format (which debuted in ’04), and that’s a knock in some folks’ eyes. It shouldn’t be. A driver and team have to be good enough through a 26-race stretch to qualify for the Chase, then better than anyone else in the final 10. Everyone plays and through the course of the season the cream eventually rises to the top. More often than not, Johnson and the No. 48 group have done just that. He could catch Earnhardt this year and not win the championship. He could win the championship and not catch Earnhardt. He could do both or he could do neither. But at the rate Johnson and his team are performing today, both are certainly possible. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
A stats-based look ahead to the race where $1 million is on the line DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. going into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 16 (7 p.m. on FOX Sports 1). SPRINT ALL-STAR-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · One win, five top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 10.4 · Average Running Position of 8.8, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 83.5, fifth-best · 48 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 320 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 179.918 mph, ninth-fastest · 746 Laps in the Top 15 (80.2%), sixth-most · 273 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Red Nose Day Toyota) · Three top fives, four top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 12.3 · Average Running Position of 7.3, second-best · Series-best Driver Rating of 108.1 · 84 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 181.329 mph · 664 Laps in the Top 15 (79.0%), ninth-most Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Mountain Dew Baja Blast Chevrolet) · One win, five top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 8.0 · Driver Rating of 78.5, 11th-best · 23 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · Series-high 372 Green Flag Passes · 757 Laps in the Top 15 (81.4%), fifth-most · Series-high 298 Quality Passes Carl Edwards (No. 19 ARRIS Toyota) · One win, four top fives, six top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.4 · Average Running Position of 9.9, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 84.6, fourth-best · 62 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 233 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 179.874 mph, 10th-fastest · 676 Laps in the Top 15 (79.5%), seventh-most · 203 Quality Passes, 11th-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) · Three wins, six top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 10.0 · Average Running Position of 8.5, third-best · Driver Rating of 82.1, eighth-best · 62 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 310 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 180.490 mph, third-fastest · Series-high 836 Laps in the Top 15 (89.9%) · 286 Quality Passes, third-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet) · One win, three top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 9.9 · Average Running Position of 10.5, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 82.4, sixth-best · 31 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 331 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 179.927 mph, eighth-fastest · 659 Laps in the Top 15 (70.9%), 10th-most · 263 Quality Passes, eighth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) · Four wins, eight top fives, nine top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 6.2 · Series-best Average Running Position of 6.9 · Driver Rating of 104.2, second-best · Series-high 147 Fastest Laps Run · 307 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 180.878 mph, second-fastest · 825 Laps in the Top 15 (88.7%), second-most · 278 Quality Passes, fifth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet) · One win, two top fives, four top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.7 · Average Running Position of 10.5, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 81.3, ninth-best · 53 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 315 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 180.143 mph, sixth-fastest · 676 Laps in the Top 15 (72.7%), seventh-most · 274 Quality Passes, sixth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 6.2 · Average Running Position of 8.7, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 88.3, third-best · 47 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · 325 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 180.049 mph, seventh-fastest · 779 Laps in the Top 15 (83.8%), fourth-most · 282 Quality Passes, fourth-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Two top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 8.8 · Average Running Position of 10.5, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 78.2, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 180.366 mph, fifth-fastest The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 14 0 1 3 8 3 9.9 82.4 2 Martin Truex Jr . 5 0 0 1 2 2 13.6 59.2 3 Jimmie Johnson 13 1 4 8 9 1 6.2 104.2 4 Joey Logano 4 0 0 2 3 1 8.8 78.2 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 15 0 1 5 12 1 8.0 78.5 6 Brad Keselowski 6 0 0 1 3 1 12.7 55.2 7 Matt Kenseth 14 2 1 6 11 1 6.2 88.3 8 Jamie McMurray 8 0 1 1 3 3 14.0 71.6 9 Jeff Gordon 21 0 3 6 9 5 10.0 82.1 10 Kasey Kahne 11 1 1 2 4 4 11.7 81.3 11 Aric Almirola 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 - 12 Paul Menard 1 0 0 0 0 0 16.0 58.1 13 Ryan Newman 13 1 1 3 7 4 10.1 75.6 14 Kurt Busch 13 0 1 5 7 3 10.4 83.5 15 Denny Hamlin 8 0 0 2 5 2 11.3 69.2 16 Clint Bowyer 6 0 0 0 1 0 14.2 54.8 * – Based on last 11 NASCAR Sprint All-Star races. Statistical Advance Charlotte Motor Speedway Data Track Size : 1.5 miles Banking Turns : 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 5 degrees Frontstretch : 1,980 feet Backstretch : 1,500 feet Top 10 All-Star Driver Ratings Kyle Busch ............................... 108.1 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 104.2 Matt Kenseth .............................. 88.3 Carl Edwards .............................. 84.6 Kurt Busch .................................. 83.5 Kevin Harvick .............................. 82.4 Jeff Gordon ................................ 82.1 Kasey Kahne .............................. 81.3 Dale Earnhardt Jr . ....................... 78.5 Joey Logano .............................. 78.2 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 NASCAR Sprint All-Star races (10 total). 2014 Race Winner: Jamie McMurray , Chevrolet 100.517 mph, (01:20:35), 05-16-14 2014 Showdown Winner: Clint Bowyer , Toyota 117.711 mph, (00:30:35), 05-16-14 2014 Showdown Runner-Up: AJ Allmendinger 2014 Sprint Fan Vote Winner: Josh Wise NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race: Notebook · There have been 30 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Races. · The first NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race was in 1985. · 29 have been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway . In 1986, the event was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway , and won by Bill Elliott . That season was also the first year for what is now known as the Sprint Showdown. · 92 drivers have run in at least one NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, with 76 competing in more than one. · Mar k Martin has participated in 24 races, more than any other driver. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in Sprint All-Star starts with 21, followed by Tony Stewart with 16. · There have been 20 different winners of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race. · Jimmie Johnson (2003, 2006, 2012 and 2013) leads the series with the most NASCAR Sprint All-Star race wins with four. · Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990 and 1993) and Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997 and 2001) are the only three-time winners of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip won the inaugural NASCAR Sprint All-Star race in 1985 at an average speed of 161.184 mph. · The race has featured a field that ranged from 10 drivers in 1986 to 27 in 2002. Last season’s field had 22 participants. · Davey Allison (1991 and 1992), Terry Labonte (1988 and 1999) and Mark Martin (1998 and 2005) are the only other drivers to post multiple victories in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race. · Davey Allison (1991, 1992) and Jimmie Johnson (2012, 2013) are the only drivers to ever win consecutive NASCAR Sprint All-Star races. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . (2000) and Ryan Newman (2002) are the only drivers to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race in their rookie season. · Jeff Gordon is the youngest winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at 23 years, 9 months and 18 days (1995). · Mark Martin is the oldest NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race winner at 46 years, 4 months and 12 days (2005). · Jimmie Johnson leads the series among active drivers in average finish in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race with a 6.154; followed by Matt Kenseth with a 6.214. · Seven active drivers have an average finish in the top 10 for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race: Jimmie Johnson (6.1), Matt Kenseth (6.2), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (8.0), Tony Stewart (8.4), Joey Logano (8.7) Kevin Harvick (9.9) and Jeff Gordon (10.0). · Terry Labonte won the inaugural Coors Light pole for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race in 1985. · 16 drivers have won Coors Light poles for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, led by Bill Elliott with four. Kyle Busch leads all active drivers with three. Carl Edwards has won the last two consecutive poles for the Sprint All-Star Race (2013, 2014). · Four drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race: Davey Allison (1991, 1992) Bill Elliott (1997, 1998), Kyle Busch (2011, 2012) and Carl Edwards (2013, 2014). · The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race has been won from the pole position four times; the first three came in consecutive years: Dale Earnhardt (1990) and Davey Allison (1991 and 1992). Kurt Busch posted the fourth win from the pole in 2010. · The front row starting positions and fourth-place are the three most proficient starting positions in the field, producing more winners (four each) than any other starting positions in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. · Eight of the 30 (26.7%) NASCAR Sprint All-Star races have been won from the front row: four from the pole and four from second-place. · 17 of the 30 (56.7%) NASCAR Sprint All-Star races have been won from a top-five starting position. · 21 of the 30 (70%) NASCAR Sprint All-Star races have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Two of the 30 (6.7%) NASCAR Sprint All-Star races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field a NASCAR Sprint All-Star race winner has started was 27th, by Ryan Newman in 2002. · Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won eight NASCAR Sprint All-Star races (most all-time): Jimmie Johnson (four: 2003, 2006, 2012, 2013), Jeff Gordon (three: 1995, 1997, 2001) and Terry Labonte (one: 1999). · Several other active teams have won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race: Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing have four (4) NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race titles each, and Team Penske has two (2). Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, the Wood Brothers, Richard Petty Motorsports and Stewart Haas Racing each have one Sprint All-star win. · All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers – Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Kasey Kahne – have won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, making HMS the only multi-car team to have a complete roster of former NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race champions – note: Earnhardt Jr. and Kahne won while driving for other teams. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in top-five finishes in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race with nine; followed by Tony Stewart (eight) and Jimmie Johnson (eight). · Bill Elliott leads the series in top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race with 13; followed by Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr . with 12 each. Matt Kenseth has 11 top-10s. · Five drivers have won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same year: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990, 1993), Rusty Wallace (1989), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997, 2001) and Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013). · In 2008, Kasey Kahne became the first driver to get into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race by the Sprint Fan Vote and go on to win the event. · There have been 10 different Sprint Fan Vote winners in the last 10 years of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . is the only driver in event history to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (2000), Sprint Showdown (2012) and Sprint Fan Vote (2011). · Seven times from seven different drivers has the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race gone on to win the Coke Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway the following weekend: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010). · The record for lead changes in a NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race is 10 in 2004. Last season’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race had nine lead changes. · The record for different leaders in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race is nine in 2002. Last season’s race had six different leaders. · The series best Driver Rating performance by a NASCAR Sprint All-Star race winner was Carl Edwards posting a 141.7 in 2011. · Top 3 leaders in Driver Rating for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race: Kyle Busch (108.9), Jimmie Johnson (103.9) and Matt Kenseth (88.9). · 11 of the 17 drivers qualified to compete in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race have captured the event title. Those 11 drivers have a combined 16 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race victories. · Roush Fenway Racing has fielded at least one entry in every NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race from 1990-2014, however no RFR drivers are currently eligible for this season’s event and will need to transfer in via the Sprint Showdown or winning the Sprint Fan Vote. · Kyle Busch has made nine NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race starts without a victory, the most of any eligible driver. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin has made eight (8) starts, the second-highest total among drivers looking for win No. 1. · Greg Biffle has qualified for 11 consecutive NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race events (2004-2014), however he isn’t currently qualified for the race. It is the longest active streak among drivers not currently in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race field. · The six drivers qualified for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race looking for their first win in the event are Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola . · Chevrolet (17) and Ford (10) have combined to win 27 or the 30
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.
NASCAR Hall of Famers think new format has been great, added excitement RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace each won championships at NASCAR's highest level under a season-long cumulative points system, years before the advent of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. This year's format is a drastic change from the system of their heyday, with eliminations, rewards for winning and consistency all part of the equation. Even though the current complexion of the Chase represents a dramatic shift, both retired drivers said they'd have welcomed a shot at the title under this year's revised rules. "I would've loved to have been a part of it," Jarrett said. "I think all your champions will tell you the reason they're champions is because of how they thrive and handle pressure-packed situations, and I think we're seeing exactly that. I get ramped up doing the telecasts so I can't imagine what it would've been like driving." The two NASCAR Hall of Famers swapped stories and offered their thoughts about the state of the sport in a rollicking half-hour news conference Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway , site of the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN). Both former drivers will share in calling the championship finale in their roles as TV analysts. Wallace and Jarrett each won one title in NASCAR's premier series a decade apart, with Wallace reigning in 1989 and Jarrett's crowning moment coming in 1999. For selfish reasons, Wallace said he would have preferred if the idea had been hatched for the new-look Chase during his racing career. "For me, they told me if we'd had this format while I was driving, I'd have won three championships with the amount of wins I've had," Wallace said. "So yeah, I like this a lot. I think it's an exciting series with what they're doing now." Wallace said several fellow members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame would have adapted well to the new format, reeling off the names of Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Sr. as drivers who relied on a healthy mix of winning plus consistency. Jarrett added the name of NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Terry Labonte to the list, but went back even further to marvel at what Hall of Famers Fireball Roberts or Junior Johnson could have accomplished under Chase rules. "I think that it would've fit all different eras if we had this type of format in those times," Jarrett said. Both agreed that the new format has increased the intensity of the racing this season, some of which has spilled over to post-race confrontations. Jarrett said that some of those same issues cropped up during his driving days, but that the spotlight's glare wasn't as wide as today's, with social media and traditional media expanding the number of eyes focused on the sport. Wallace pointed to Ryan Newman brushing aside rookie Kyle Larson last weekend as an instance of the hard-edged racing that the new Chase format has created. While some of the extracurriculars go over the line and result in punishment, Wallace said there's still a balance in what qualifies as acceptable and what isn't. "It has changed a little bit, but I think the drivers being able to get out there and have a lot of contact and not being penalized for it is a good thing nowadays," Wallace said. "The fighting, the beating each other up -- I'm not a big fan of that. I do like controversy and I do like excitement, and I think that was OK to tolerate. Everybody's going to have a different approach." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Rusty Wallace believes that the Gen 6 car is good for race fans.
Rusty Wallace speaks about the 2013 season and the excitement of the Gen 6 car.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Continued coverage of Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Talladega win, plus reaction from Jeff Gordon after another speeding penalty ruined his day. And on "Star Wars Day" @nascarcasm combines the iconic film franchise with NASCAR. TUESDAY: Expect Power Rankings presented by John Deere to get another shakeup this week -- how high will Junior rise? Plus, check out Dale Jr.'s imaginary Facebook page created by @nascarcasm, as well as fake texts between Junior and Tony Stewart following their Richmond run-in. Senior writer Kenny Bruce will report from Charlotte at an event with Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus, Rusty Wallace and Michael Waltrip . WEDNESDAY: Check out which paint schemes will be on display at Kansas Speedway . Senior writer Kenny Bruce will be at the NASCAR R&D Center for Richard Childress Racing 's final appeal. THURSDAY: In advance of the SpongeBob SquarePants 400, we take a look at what would happen if SpongeBob and NASCAR collided. Senior writer Holly Cain, who has covered both Dale Earnhardt Jr . and his father, has a column on Sunday's remarkable win. And to get you ready for Kansas, Driver Reports has a full breakdown on how the 16 drivers currently in the Chase Grid do at that track. FRIDAY: Get all the on-track action slated for Kansas throughout the day and evening, including a Truck Series race under the lights. We'll also catch you up on eight tweets you might have missed. Also coming this week: On Tuesday, Zack Albert will be on hand when the new NASCAR Next class is announced. Holly Cain writes about Carl Edwards ' frustrating Talladega finish. ... Check out a photo gallery Wednesday of NASCAR drivers and their mothers, in advance of Mother's Day. ... We'll preview Erik Jones first career Sprint Cup start, and look back on Joey Gase 's career-best XFINITY Series finish.