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 .
Pair start building relationship, talk upcoming races after crew chief swap DARLINGTON, S.C. – Crew chief Billy Scott and driver Clint Bowyer wasted no time in starting to build their relationship as teammates, hitting Darlington Raceway for testing the same day Michael Waltrip Racing officials announced a crew chief swap for its’ two-team NASCAR Sprint Cup Series operation. Bowyer’s No. 15 team was one of four taking part in Tuesday’s Goodyear tire test at the historic 1.366-mile venue and was one of 12 participating in Wednesday’s open team test. Scott, previously the crew chief for the organization’s No. 55 Toyota, is now overseeing the Bowyer entry; Brian Pattie, who had served as Bowyer’s crew chief, is now with the No. 55 group and driver. The pit crews for the two teams remain unchanged, although Scott said there were some individuals in other positions that made the switch as well. Wednesday’s open team test provided teams the opportunity to prepare for the Bojangles’ Southern 500, scheduled for Sept. 6. “There are different aspects that have been kind of building up to it,” Scott said of the crew chief change. “The timing, even though it’s been short notice, coming to the test here with cars that were prepared differently (and) going to Michigan before the off week is short planning, but I think the timing is good that we do have the test here for the 15 and next week for the 55 (at Richmond) to give everybody a chance to work together. “The off week (which follows this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway ) will be a good chance to review that and make some tweaks.” Bowyer will be the fifth driver with whom Scott has worked this season as team co-owner Michael Waltrip , Brian Vickers , Brett Moffitt and David Ragan have spent time behind the wheel of the No. 55 entry. Vickers, the team’s primary driver, was sidelined after just two starts due to a recurrence of blood clots while Ragan has been in the car for the five Sprint Cup Series events. Bowyer and Pattie have worked side-by-side since 2012 at MWR, winning three times and qualifying for NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2012-13. Currently 17 th in the points standings, Bowyer’s managed just three top 10s this season and has led only two laps. “Hopefully having that experience (with different drivers), learning somebody new and adapting on the fly will help us,” said Scott, who added that building a relationship with Bowyer will be no different than building one with any of his former drivers. “That’s always evolving even for guys that have been together for years; you can always improve on that,” he said. “But … we’ve been in meetings together for three-and-a-half years already and he’s a pretty easy-going guy so hopefully we should pick up pretty quick.” It won’t be necessarily a change in the direction of the team, but just a different approach perhaps. “The communication at … Michael Waltrip Racing has always been very fluent among all the teams whether it’s been two or three,” said Scott. “Everyone’s worked on the same goals … I think maybe just having a different perspective and just some small details might be enough to just switch it up, get that little spark.” Bowyer, taking a lunch time break from testing, said MWR has “to make our cars better … to give ( Billy ) a chance. “Communication can always be better and that’s what we’re working on with this change,” he said. “Something’s needed. It’s not like he is coming in, having to learn everything. We’re only a two-car team so they worked pretty tight anyway. My engineer, Dax (Gerringer) is a guy that I’ve work with really closely with since I’ve been at MWR. I’m just looking forward to gaining a new asset, a new voice. We’ve certainly got a lot of work to do.” Other drivers taking part in Wednesday’s test: Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports ), Joey Logano ( Team Penske ), Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing ), Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ), Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ) and Jeb Burton ( BK Racing ). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: See the full lineup " Complete qualifying results AVONDALE, Ariz. – Jimmie Johnson played spoiler last Sunday at Texas, stealing a win from Brad Keselowski in the closing laps. On Friday afternoon at Phoenix International Raceway – though "spoiler" is not a role he relishes – the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion was at it again, winning the pole for Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC) with a track-record lap at 143.158 mph (25.147 seconds). Johnson , who was bounced from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in the first Challenger Rounnd, edged Chase driver Kurt Busch (142.880 mph) for the top spot on the grid. The Coors Light Pole Award broke a 58-race drought for Johnson and his No. 48 Chevrolet team, who earned the most recent of his 34 career poles in May 2014 at Charlotte. The pole, his third at Phoenix, the last coming in November 2013 during his run for a sixth series title. Johnson has four victories at Phoenix, the most recent in 2009. "I don't think I want to play spoiler — I just want to go fast," Johnson said after his record run. "I just want to sit on the pole, win races, lead laps. I want to be the 48 that we know we're capable of. My motivation comes through that. "I want to be the race team that we are and the driver that I am. It's not because I want to be the spoiler, and I'm not in the Chase, so let me get in the way. It has nothing to do with that." For Busch, who for practical purposes must win on Sunday to advance to the Chase's Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway , the front-row starting spot is a welcome indicator of the speed in his car. "The way that this weekend is shaping up for us, it's a great start," Busch said. "We know we need to win. The car, the crew and everybody we are all clicking on eight cylinders. "We just didn't quite get the pole. Johnson put down an awesome lap, so congrats to him. We're outside pole, and we'll go from there." RELATED: Busch hopes to reserve SHR party of two in finale For Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski , who like Busch are dealing with must-win scenarios to advance in the Chase, Friday's time trials were a major disappointment. Neither driver qualified for the third and final round of knockout qualifying, with Logano earning the 14th starting spot and Keselowski the 18th. "We just missed it a little bit," Logano said after the second round. "I wish we were in the next round and going for a pole, but the fact of the matter is we're going to start 14th, and we're going to work on our car (during Saturday's practice) and get it ready to win a race on Sunday." Kevin Harvick , who has won the last four races at Phoenix, qualified eighth. Other Chase drivers will start as follows: Carl Edwards , fourth; Martin Truex Jr ., fifth; Kyle Busch , 10th; and Jeff Gordon , 12th. Gordon is the only one of the eight eligible drivers who has already clinched a spot in the Championship Round – thanks to his Nov. 1 victory at Martinsville. Just because of the qualifying effort, however, don't discount Harvick's chances for a fifth straight victory at the one-mile track. "We didn't qualify as well as we did last time, but the car was really good in race trim as we practiced today," Harvick said. "We just never really found anything that worked for us in qualifying trim." Notes: Dale Earnhardt Jr . qualified third ... In both the second and third rounds, seven drivers ran faster than the previous track qualifying record of 142.141 mph set by Joey Logano in November 2014.
Sunday's win at Texas was the 75th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory for Jimmie Johnson , a milestone that only eight other drivers have reached in the sport's history. It also put Johnson , eighth on the all-time NASCAR wins list, just one one behind Dale Earnhardt's total of 76. "It would be huge (to pass Earnhardt on the wins list)," Johnson said after his victory in the AAA Texas 500 . "Hard to even put it into words. I came into this sport hoping to win a race. To have 75 of them is mind‑blowing. If I'm able to tie Senior, it's something I would be just extremely proud of." If "Six-Time" does eventually pass Earnhardt, he would be seventh on the all-time list and have the totals of Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough in his sights. When it comes to the most wins in NASCAR premier series history, here's the top 10 drivers. An asterisk denotes a driver who is currently active.
RELATED: Full practice results Texas winner Jimmie Johnson surged to the top of the leaderboard late during Friday's opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, posting a fastest lap of 141.827 mph at Phoenix International Raceway . Next was the No. 42 Chevrolet of Kyle Larson , who circled the 1-mile track at 141.783 mph. Those two non-Chase drivers soared ahead of Kurt Busch in his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, who was third overall at 141.571 mph and the first on the leaderboard out of the eight remaining Chase contenders. Carl Edwards logged the fourth-fastest speed (141.448 mph). Jamie McMurray was right behind him, taking fifth with a fastest lap of 141.315 mph. Here's how the rest of the Chase drivers ranked: Kevin Harvick (sixth), Martin Truex Jr . (eighth), Kyle Busch (10th), Joey Logano (11th), Brad Keselowski (17th) and Jeff Gordon (25th). Next up at 6:45 p.m. ET is Coors Light Pole qualifying (NBCSN/Live Extra).
Jimmie Johnson talks about his battle with Brad Keselowski to take the lead and win at Texas Motor Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson makes a pass on the leader Brad Keselowski with 4 laps to go as he wins at Texas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman recaps the AAA Texas 500 as multiple Chase drivers had tire issues and Jimmie Johnson played Chase spoiler as he takes home the win.
Jimmie Johnson responds to the tweet from Matt Kenseth that Kenseth posted shortly after the race at Texas Motor Speedway