Regan Smith and Billy Johnson get together during the Johnsonville Sausage 200 Presented by Menards at Road America.
Following the Johnsonville Sausage 200 presented by Menards at Road America Max Papis has a few words with Billy Johnson .
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
Fourth XFINITY Series pole of the season for 2013 champion RELATED: Full starting lineup Austin Dillon won the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 300 on Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM), turning a lap of 184.615 mph around the 1.5-mile oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The No. 33 Richard Childress Racing will be on the pole, sharing the front row with Darrell Wallace, Jr. The No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford led the first round of qualifying with a speed of 183.968 mph and finished the final round of qualifying with a lap at 184.395 mph. This is the fourth pole of the season for Dillon, who won from the top spot in Las Vegas in March. Brian Scott will start third in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (183.799 mph); Denny Hamlin starts fourth in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (183.536 mph); and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five with a lap of 183.474 mph in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet. Chad Boat lost control and spun out through the grass during XFINITY Series qualifying. The incident was almost identicial to Boat's wreck in the No. 84 Billy Boat Motrosports Chevrolet during Thursday's practice for the Hisense 300 .
Stewart-Haas Racing driver paces both sessions at Charlotte RELATED: Final practice results " See all 43 cars at Charlotte Kurt Busch topped final practice for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Busch led the 50-minute session with a fast lap of 188.653 mph. The driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet also topped Saturday's earlier practice session. Kasey Kahne placed second in the session at a speed of 187.052 mph. The driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has four wins at Charlotte with three coming in the Coca-Cola 600 . Paul Menard (186.987 mph) was third, followed by Greg Biffle (186.942 mph) and polesitter Matt Kenseth (186.780 mph) rounded out the top five. MORE: Kenseth starts on pole Erik Jones spent the latter half of final practice logging laps in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Jones will be on standby for Kyle Busch on Sunday night in case he can't go the full distance. Busch is making his first points-paying start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since suffering a compound fracture of the right leg and a broken left foot in a crash in the NASCAR XFINITY Series opener at Daytona International Speedway in February. Jones made his Sprint Cup debut at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago; he also logged laps in relief of Denny Hamlin at Bristol Motor Speedway in April. The No. 18 Toyota was 17th in final practice. The standby plan was mentioned on Jones' Twitter feed. Erik will be on standby duty this weekend for @KyleBusch . As a precaution Erik will finish out happy hour on the 18 cup car. — Erik Jones (@erik_jones) May 23, 2015 Sunday's 600-miler is the longest race of the season in the Sprint Cup Series. Second practice " RELATED: Practice 2 results Kurt Busch topped the first of Saturday's two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice sessions at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM). Busch paced the 55-minute practice session with a fast lap of 192.644 mph. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has just one win at Charlotte, a Coca-Cola 600 victory in 2010. Polesitter Matt Kenseth placed second in the session with a fast lap of 191.680 mph. Kenseth's first premier series win came in this race in 2000. Jimmie Johnson (190.813 mph) came in third, followed by David Ragan (190.550 mph) with Brad Keselowski (190.496 mph) rounding out the top five. Johnson is the defending race winner and has seven career wins at Charlotte, the most all-time. All three of Johnson's wins this season have come on intermediate tracks. Ragan went for a spin off Turn 4 late in practice, making no contact with the wall but going through the grass. The driver of the No. 55 Toyota suffered no real damage to the car and is set to start seventh in Sunday's race. Kyle Busch , who will be making his first points-paying Sprint Cup Series start of the season, finished the session sixth. Points leader Kevin Harvick , who has finished in the top two in all four races at intermediate tracks, placed 30th on the chart. AJ Allmendinger had his share of issues during the practice. The driver of the No. 47 appeared to scrape the wall and was fighting a loose car during the session in which he placed 33rd. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get caught up before Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) MORE: NASCAR.com's picks for Charlotte " See all 43 cars for Charlotte What: 56th Annual Coca-Cola 600 Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway , Concord, N.C. When: Sunday, May 23, 2015 TV/Radio: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) Distance: 400 laps (600 miles) Green Flag: 6:18.30 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 45 mph Caution Car Speed: 55 mph Competition Caution : Lap 25 On The Front Row " Complete lineup for Sunday's race 1. Matt Kenseth , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (194.252 mph) 2. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (192.836 mph) Failed to Qualify Jeb Burton , BK Racing No. 26 Toyota; Mike Bliss , Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford; Travis Kvapil , Hillman SmithMotorsports No. 39 Chevrolet; Jeff Green , TMG No. 30 Chevrolet; Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet Fastest In Practice First Practice: Carl Edwards , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota (192.273 mph) " Full practice results Second Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (192.644 mph) " Full practice results Third Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (188.653 mph) " Full practice results Four Score? Matt Kenseth will start from the pole for the 15th time in his career when the Coca-Cola 600 gets under way. On three occasions, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has managed to also win the race – at Bristol in 2005 and '15 as well as Kansas in '13. "Back when I started, we worked hard on qualifying but we worked way harder on the race (setup) because even if we started 20th, we knew if we had a really good car we could drive up to the front and after a couple of pit stops we'd be in the top few," Kenseth said. "That's not necessarily the case today. You can start in the middle and you can be stuck in the middle all day sometimes. It's hard to make up ground." SHOP: Kenseth gear No. 450 for Biffle, McMurray Roush Fenway Racing 's Greg Biffle and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver Jamie McMurray will be making their 450th career starts in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series in the Coca-Cola 600 . Biffle's first start came April 28, 2002 at Auto Club Speedway . He finished 13th. McMurray's first start came later that same year, on October 6 at Talladega Superspeedway . Driving in a relief role for the injured Sterling Marlin, McMurray finished 26th. Front Row Joe(y) Team Penske driver Joey Logano qualified second for the Coca-Cola 600 , his seventh front-row start in 12 races this year. Since the 2014 season and the move to group qualifying, Logano has earned 15 top-two starts. SHOP: Logano gear Shorten the 600? "If they take that away or shorten it, it doesn't have the same challenge because that extra 100 miles is really hard. It puts extra wear and tear on your parts, your pieces, and your driver. It makes you change your strategy. And … it's something unique to our sport. … I like the challenge of that extra 100 miles once a year. I wouldn't want to do it twice a year." – former championship winning crew chief Ray Evernham Third Cup Start for Elliott Defending XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott will be making his third Sprint Cup Series start this weekend, qualifying the Hendrick Motorsports No. 25 Chevrolet 28th in the 43-car field. Elliott, the son of 1988 Sprint Cup champ and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott , finished 38th in his Sprint Cup debut earlier this year at Martinsville and 16th at Richmond. Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Charlotte based on past 20 races: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (111.6) Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (106.7) Kasey Kahne , Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet (100.8) GALLERY: Check out the Memorial Day weekend patriotic paint schemes Chevy Stumble? For the first time this season, no Chevrolet drivers qualified in the top five. Points leader Kevin Harvick , in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet, led the GM charge and will start eighth. Lap Leaders Jim Paschal holds the record for most laps led by the winner in the Coca-Cola 600 , leading 335 of 400 en route to his victory at Charlotte in 1967 (it was then called the World 600). Race winner Jimmie Johnson led 334 of 400 in '04. The driver leading the most laps in the 600 and NOT winning the race is Junior Johnson , who led 289 in the '63 event but finished second to Fred Lorenzen after suffering a flat tire with fewer than five laps remaining. Defending Coca-Cola 600 Champion Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet Former Charlotte Winners In Field Jimmie Johnson (7); Jeff Gordon (5); Kasey Kahne (4); Kevin Harvick (3); Matt Kenseth , Jamie McMurray (2); Casey Mears , Tony Stewart , Brad Keselowski , Clint Bowyer , Kurt Busch (1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR Illustrated takes a look at odd jobs around the sport. In this episode, Billy Mauldin talks about his work with Motor Racing Outreach.
Sprint Cup stars take to social media to offer congratulations Juan Pablo Montoya 's second career Indianapolis 500 win elicited plenty of social media reaction from his former competitors and friends in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Tony Stewart and Joey Logano were among those to offer their congratulations. The victory came as he drove for Roger Penske, giving Penske wins in two of racing's marquee events this season: The Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. Penske joins Chip Ganassi as the only other team owner to win both events in the same year. Fifteen years ago, Montoya won his first Indianapolis 500 driving for Ganassi. Since then, Montoya spent time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, winning two races and competing full-time in the series from 2007 to 2013. He made two Sprint Cup starts last season for Penske. Check out the sampling of reaction below. During his time in @NASCAR , @jpmontoya was always really cool to me. I looked up to him as a true wheelman. So good to see him win today. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) May 24, 2015 Congratulations to @jpmontoya that was a hell of a drive. — Mark Martin (@markmartin) May 24, 2015 Ole @jpmontoya was on it there at the end definitely was wheeling that thing more than any of them #Indianapolis500 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) May 24, 2015 Big congrats to @jpmontoya on the #Indy500 win!!!! — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) May 24, 2015 Hell yeah @jpmontoya . Awesome. Indy 500 & Daytona 500 to RP. That was awesome. Congrats @12WillPower in the runner up too. — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) May 24, 2015 Congrats @jpmontoya , massive effort!!! #Indianapolis500 — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) May 24, 2015 HELL YEAH! Great job my friend. Proud of my buddy Juan Pablo Montoya today at the #Indy500 — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) May 24, 2015
Strategy play to stay on older tires late pays off for six-time Cup champ RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " SHOP: Winner's gear KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Thanks to a brief but wild Kansas spring storm and the long delay it produced, Jimmie Johnson on Sunday became the first Sprint Cup driver to win a race on Mother's Day since 2007. Johnson , who is pursuing a record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship this season, held off Kevin Harvick over the final six laps to win Sunday morning's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway . Johnson's victory -- which was recorded just after midnight local time because of a delay of 2 hours and 16 minutes -- was his third of the season and his third at the 1.5-mile Kansas oval. "It was a long, hard night," Johnson , who led just 10 laps and who spun out unassisted early in the race, said in Victory Lane. "Once we got up front, we were able to hang on." Reminded about what day it was when he finally took the checkered flag, Johnson said, "I just want to wish Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. My mother and especially my wife Chani ( Johnson , wife), hopefully she is still awake. I wish she was here. I wish my girls were here too, but I will be home tonight and we will have some fun tomorrow." Harvick, who led 53 laps, finished second in his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Third was Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr . Fourth was another Hendrick driver, Jeff Gordon , while pole-sitter Joey Logano was fifth in a Team Penske Ford. The victory was the 73rd of the six-time champion's career. It came thanks to some late-race strategizing by teams who had cars and drivers at the front of the field. Harvick appeared to be headed toward his third victory of the season as the laps wound down after he took the lead on a restart lap with 55 laps to go. The defending series champion had a lead of over 1 second with 14 laps to go and nobody appeared fast enough to close that gap let alone get around him. But with 12 laps to go, Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s Roush Fenway Racing Ford clipped the outside wall to bring out the final caution. Harvick and all but four others -- Johnson , Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon -- pitted as they were iffy on fuel. Harvick also opted to take two right-side tires. After the restart with six to go, the race became a three-driver affair as Johnson , Earnhardt and Harvick, who restarted sixth, edged away from the field. The decision by Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus turned out to be a winner – even though they had less rubber than did Harvick. Harvick never got close enough to Johnson to take a final shot at a pass. Johnson said the decision to not pit was a split-second, gut-feeling kind of thing and it was mostly his. "I could tell he (crew chief Chad Knaus) was having a hard time making the decision," Johnson said. "I'm kind of running through the events in my mind. We have two wins, we are locked in the Chase, and we are here to win a race, let's gamble. Let's go for it. Sure enough it paid off. A few more laps I think the No. 4 (Harvick) would have had me. He was awfully strong. Obviously being on right side tires would have been an advantage for him. We had just enough time to get this Lowe's Chevrolet to Victory Lane. Just very proud of the team and the effort that has gone into it. We have great race cars. I wish we would qualify a little better on Friday's that would make life a lot easier for us." Harvick said he wasn't mad about his team's decision to pit. "I've been on the other side of this deal where the cars aren't running good and you don't have a chance to win," he said. "We won a championship on pit calls and tires and everything fell our way. We've had a lot of things go our way and we've had a lot of things work." Harvick did insist, however, he had the faster car regardless of the outcome. "He wasn't that strong," Harvick said of Johnson . "He was just trying to run right in front of our car so for those first few laps when you're pushing like that it really takes the air off the front of the car and it gets the chatter in the front end and it snaps around. But that was the strategy they took and it worked out for them." Perhaps the most bummed driver as a result of the finish was Furniture Row Racing 's Martin Truex Jr . His No. 78 Chevrolet was clearly the fastest on the track for the vast majority of the race. It led a race-best 95 laps. But his team felt it needed to pit for fuel during the final caution. On the restart, it became obvious they had made the wrong call. Truex finished ninth. "We should have either stayed out or took new tires," Truex said. "We probably did the worst thing you could have done there with just staying out and getting gas only because we ended up being the last guy with no tires. Everybody else behind us had two and they ate us up on the restart." MORE: Video recap " Dale discusses Hamlin incident FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule All-time premier series wins Rank Driver Wins 1. Richard Petty 200 2. David Pearson 105 3. Jeff Gordon 92 4t. Bobby Allison 84 4t. Darrell Waltrip 84 6. Cale Yarborough 83 7. Dale Earnhardt 76 8. Jimmie Johnson * 73 9. Rusty Wallace 55 10. Lee Petty 54 *200 top-5 finishes is 12th all time *300 top-10 finishes is 17th all time
NASCAR.com's Chuck Bush recaps the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway that included a lengthy rain delay, Erik Jones' first official Sprint Cup Series start and Jimmie Johnson winning his third race of 2015.