Jimmie Johnson does driver impressions
Watch as Jimmie Johnson does some hilarious driver impressions while playing the new Forza Motorsport 6 NASCAR Expansion for Xbox One.
Smith and Johnson get together
Regan Smith and Billy Johnson get together during the Johnsonville Sausage 200 Presented by Menards at Road America.
Post-Race Reactions: Papis slaps Johnson
Following the Johnsonville Sausage 200 presented by Menards at Road America Max Papis has a few words with Billy Johnson .
Jimmie Johnson : A monster talent at Dover
RELATED: Cup standings " See Sunday's lineup DOVER, Del. -- Even those who have been around the sport for a long time are amazed to hear the litany of Jimmie Johnson accomplishments at this week's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stop, Dover International Speedway . His 10 -- yes, TEN -- wins at the Monster Mile is an all-time record. His Dover tally alone is actually more than the career win totals of 25 drivers he'll compete against in Sunday's AAA 400 Drive for Autism (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM). His 2,999 career laps led at Dover is also the most from any active driver. And the six-time champion has won three of the last five races here. All that greatness surely helps balance the irony and disappointment of Johnson's Chase-costing 41st-place finish in the series' last Dover visit in October. "That was human error, it was something that we did wrong as a race team and cost ourselves a shot at the Chase when were in the fall race," Johnson recalled. "You're going to have bad experiences at all tracks. People are going to make mistakes. Drivers are going to make mistakes even if it's at their favorite track. It doesn't matter. "My love for this track; I fell for it on my first lap in an ASA car back in the '90s and it's still just as cool now as it ever has been." And it would seem if Johnson's love of track is somehow reciprocated. His success on one of NASCAR's toughest one-milers is factually amazing. In addition to his 10 victories, Johnson has 15 top fives and 20 top 10s in 28 starts plus five pole-position starts, for good measure. Twice he has won from the pole. It's the kind of track mastery that used to happen more regularly in NASCAR's "glory days" of Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt, but sure doesn't occur frequently in the modern era. Kind of like winning six championships in just eight seasons. "To have my favorite track to drive turn out to be one of my most successful race tracks, at this point in my career, it's just cool to see it all converge and come together," Johnson said. "The experience around the track is so intense and so fun, I guess it's the only track that we compete on that really reminds me of my motocross or off-road roots with the transitions into the corners and off the corners. I came here in an ASA car maybe '97 or '98 and just fell in love with the track then and was very fast and competitive then." Johnson arrives in Dover this week ranked fourth in the championship standings, 37 points behind Dover pole-sitter and the season's title leader Kevin Harvick . But Johnson already has a pair of wins (at Atlanta and Auto Club), which qualifies him for the 2016 Chase. He will start the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet 21st on Sunday -- the grid set by opening practice speeds since qualifying was rained out. It's only the fourth time in the last 15 races he has started outside the top 10. He was 12th- and 13th-fastest, respectively, in the final two practices on Saturday. And he had the eighth-best 10-lap average. "We definitely get fired up knowing this one is coming up," Johnson said. "When we get here and then in moments like what we just had in practice where we didn't have the speed we wanted. It adds actually more frustration than it would at a normal track. "Because we are like, 'man, this is our place,' this is where we run well, why are we off? "There is a balance for sure." And no one better to find it.
Hard luck, near-win heartbreak for Kyle Larson
RELATED: Full race results CONCORD, N.C. – Kyle Larson nearly became the latest driver to go from the preliminary event to the winner's circle of the annual NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. But a loose-handling car and a hard-charging Joey Logano proved to be his undoing Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway . It's a familiar feeling for the young driver of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' No. 42 Chevrolet, who has finished second four times in points-paying races in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. RELATED: Larson grabs runner-up finish at Dover Saturday night's 113-lap show wasn't for points, but there was a $1 million payday waiting at the checkered flag. And when the 23-year-old shot the gap on the race's final restart, he zoomed from third to first with less than 13 laps remaining. But Logano ( Team Penske ) was able to track the leader down and after a side-by-side battle, Larson slipped up and into the wall less than three laps from the finish. Logano held on for the victory; Larson limped to the garage, 16th in the final rundown. "I definitely didn't over-correct," a dejected Larson said afterward. "I was just going fast, got loose, lost control and hit the wall. I'm disappointed. I feel like I keep letting my guys down." Larson had qualified for the Sprint All-Star Race by winning a sheetmetal swapping, last-lap battle with Chase Elliott ( Hendrick Motorsports ) in the final segment of the Sprint Showdown preliminary event earlier in the day. The damage done to his car kept his team busy throughout the afternoon, but by the time the red-and-white entry rolled through pre-race inspection for the main event, it looked good as new. And it ran that way, too. RELATED: Larson edges out Elliott " See frame-by-frame of the finish "They worked their tails off after I got all the damage in the Showdown," he said. "We had a really, really good Target Chevy and were able to get to the front pretty quick there to be in the best position possible there for the last restart." After starting the race 18th , Larson ended the first 50-lap segment inside the top 10. He eventually took the lead on Lap 94 and was the race leader after 100 laps had been completed to end the second segment. He restarted third for the final 13-lap dash after only two drivers, Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), running 12th and 13th respectively, were re-slotted to the front. The top 11 were required to pit. "I was getting looser throughout the race," Larson said. "We were making adjustments but weren't making big enough ones. I just got loose and Joey caught me. "He did a really good job side-drafting me. I tried to hang on his quarter panel like I did with Chase earlier today. I got really loose as soon as I got in the corner." Logano said he knew Larson would "try to suck me around from the outside and I knew I had to drive in to make sure he didn't do that. "Just good hard racing there at the end. It was a lot of fun. He's a heck of a racer. He's going to win a lot of races, that's for sure." Kasey Kahne ( Hendrick Motorsports ) was the last driver to win the Sprint All-Star Race despite not automatically qualifying for it (and having to race in the preliminary event) heading into the weekend, accomplishing the feat in 2008. (Kahne won the Sprint Fan Vote that year.) "I thought clean air would be everything there on four tires," Larson said. "Joey was just really good there that last run; I thought I was better than him most of the race. I don't know, I feel bad. But it's good that we have fast race cars right now. "Just really, really proud of everybody on this team. We were pretty down earlier in the year but we've got cars now and confidence and one of these days it will all come together."
New duo: Billy Scott and Clint Bowyer
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
Teams seek final rules clarity before Sprint All-Star Race
CONCORD, N.C. -- Questions about gamesmanship and tire requirements dotted the drivers' meeting before Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, prompting several "what-if" scenarios for the annual non-points event. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Managing Director Richard Buck spelled out the race's unique procedures in a nearly six-minute instructional in the Charlotte Motor Speedway garage, but there was conjecture about some of the rules. Teams will compete in three segments (50 laps, 50 laps, 13 laps), with pit road closing on Lap 85 of the second segment. The top nine, 10 or 11 cars -- the number is selected by random draw during the Lap 100 break before the 13-lap final shootout -- will be required to pit for four tires. The basis for the format is to spice up the running order, putting cars with fresher tires behind those in front with older rubber for the dash to the finish. Chad Knaus, crew chief for the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson , was the first to ask about the requirement in the question-and-answer session that followed. "I got a little lost there through some of that," Knaus said, before asking Buck if a caution flag during the final 13-lap segment would allow all teams to stop and change tires if they were damaged by an incident. "There's many scenarios there," Buck said. "The premise is to have cars with 15-laps-old tires on them and cars behind them with new tires on them. We will not permit gaming of that. If we have an incident, for an example, we will have to go red and clean it up, we'll take care of that situation, we'll come back to it and then allow the teams to pit on or around (Lap) 85, wherever that may be, or any circumstance like that." Kyle Busch piped up: "That didn't answer the question. Chad's talking about in the last segment, in the last 13 laps if there's a wreck, not after Lap 85 in the second segment, you follow? He's asking about 100 and 113." Buck told the room that the field would not be allowed to take tires. Pressed by Busch about whether tires flat-spotted in a spin or damaged by running over debris would be fair game for a change, Buck replied: "That's EIRI (except in rare instances). Like I said, we'll manage that from the tower." Defending race winner Denny Hamlin , Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, was the next to raise his hand, asking whether the "100 percent rule" requiring competitors to race at their fullest ability was in effect. Buck replied in the affirmative. The question was prompted by suggestions that drivers might hold back and aim for 12th place or further back before the final segment, allowing them to have the benefit of four fresh tires for the final shootout. The "100 percent rule" was added in September 2013 in the wake of the Richmond scandal, where the former Michael Waltrip Racing team was penalized for attempting to manipulate the race results. Buck also said in his explanation of rules that NASCAR officials would make a mandatory lug-nut check during the two breaks between segments. Buck said the penalty for missing or loose lug nuts not fastened up against the wheel will require the offending team to remedy the issue, sending them to the tail of field.
Science of a crew chief: Randolph takes unusual path to racing
Doug Randolph graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. So it was only natural that the Morristown, Tennessee, native eventually found employment in racing. "I use it every day," Randolph said, grinning. If you think he's kidding, think again. "The definition of wildlife biology is it's a science and it's an art, manipulating habitat for animals. To me, racing is the same way," said Randolph, crew chief for driver Tyler Reddick and the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. "If you go into it 100 percent engineering driven, and you forget the art of it, the pumping your driver up, assessing where his head is, you might not be able to pull off the success you want. For sure, that definition plays a huge role in racing I think." Reddick is eighth in points following two straight top 10s -- a seventh-place finish at Dover and a fourth-place showing at Charlotte. Teammate Daniel Hemric is third in the standings. Randolph didn't set out to become a crew chief, but he did hope to be involved in racing in some capacity. And not just videotaping local races from the top of a press box in an effort to lure fans to the local pizza join for viewing and a meal later. Yeah, he really did that. "One of my best friends worked for Mr. Gatti's Pizza and we went around to softball games, local races and videotaped them," Randolph said. "Then we'd try to convince people at the games or races to eat at Mr. Gatti's and watch the replays. "He and I would get on top of the press box. He would video and I would sit there and drink beer, to be honest. But those were good times." Randolph has served as crew chief in all three of NASCAR's national series, winning in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with drivers Scott Riggs and Clint Bowyer , as well as the Camping World Truck Series with Ryan Blaney , Keselowski and Reddick. There were near-wins in Sprint Cup , second-place finishes at Bristol (with Jimmy Spencer) and Talladega (with Paul Menard ). But his start came with a local standout, L.D. Ottinger, a Newport, Tennessee-based driver. Randolph was on the crew in 1990 when Ottinger won an event in what is now known as the XFINITY Series at Bristol Motor Speedway . It was in that race that Michael Waltrip survived one of the most devastating crashes in NASCAR, his car exploding after striking the exposed corner of the outside wall. "Nobody will ever remember who won the race; they'll always remember the wreck," Randolph said. "L.D. wasn't the first one by the wreck, but he took everyone down pit road. And when he did, he said 'He's dead.' He said it three times. "They red-flagged the race … it was hard." Incredibly, Waltrip was not injured. The time spent working for Ottinger helped lay the foundation for what was to come. "Probably one of the best people for somebody that didn't know anything about racing to learn from," Randolph said, "because his attention to detail. I'd be putting the fender decals on and one might be just a little crooked. He'd say, 'You've got to fix that' and I'd say, 'They can't see it from the stands.' He'd say, 'Yeah but I'll be driving around the race track worried that that thing's crooked.' " Understanding professors helped Randolph complete his college education while still heading to the race tracks each weekend. Eventually, he made the decision to "do this racing gig for a year or two. "L.D.'s led into going to Junior Johnson's and, man, once you're there, how do you leave racing?," Randolph said. Johnson , an inaugural member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and one of the sport's legendary figures, won 50 times as a driver, and nearly three times that often as an owner (132 all told). Randolph's first job as crew chief came in 2001, at Bill Davis Racing with driver Dave Blaney . Eleven years later, he helped guide Blaney's son, Ryan, to the win in a Truck Series race at Iowa. He's found a home in the series, and a home at Brad Keselowski Racing. "When you're Cup racing, that is your life," Randolph said. "You have no (other) life. I've got a wonderful wife, wonderful kids. Truck racing came for me at a point in my life when my daughter was in high school playing every sport imaginable. I missed a lot of that with my son. It was great to experience it with my daughter. … "We're very lucky here that Brad has given us an organization with a definite vision that's different. He wants to give back to the sport and he's given us the freedom to go and do it. We have a great group of guys that support each other. It's a lot of fun. If you're Cup racing and you're not one of those first five guys, you're not having any fun." But there's stress at every level of racing, and that's "what you hope for," he admitted. "You hope there is a stressful situation and you and your driver and your team can get through it better than the next guy."
Logano wins Sprint All-Star Race, $1 million prize
RELATED: Race results " SHOP: Logano gear CONCORD, N.C. – At the end of a wild and crazy Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway , Joey Logano got the upper hand in an intense battle with last-chance qualifier Kyle Larson and took home the million-dollar prize as the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Trying to block the stronger car of Logano in the closing 13-lap final segment of the race, Larson buried his car into Turn 1 as Logano edged ahead. Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet got loose and sailed up the track into the outside wall with less than two laps left. "I tell you, Larson is a hard racer," Logano said. "I watched him in the Showdown earlier today, and I knew what I was up against. I knew he was going to run hard. I'm a hard racer, so I knew it was going to be a fun battle for sure. I got underneath him once, and I got to the outside of him once, we went up high, and I got underneath him and I got loose underneath him. "I knew I had position on him going into the corner and had to keep him on my quarter panel and not let him get to my door, so I drove in there hard. He was going to drive in there hard to keep on my door and I was going to drive in there hard to keep him at my quarter. "What a crazy battle for a million dollars at the end. This is the All-Star Race. It's special just to be in the race. Forget winning it--it’s just special. It's neat to be in Victory Lane." RELATED: Logano reflects on all-star win Larson’s contact with the wall on the penultimate lap was an opportunity for Logano's Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski , who finished second, 1.142 seconds behind the race winner. Dale Earnhardt Jr . came home third, followed by Carl Edwards , Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott . Larson brought his damaged car to pit road as Logano sped to the win. "I was able to get to the front pretty quick there and be in the best position for that last restart," Larson said. "I got clear right away and thought I could cruise, but I got looser throughout the race—we were making adjustments, but I guess we weren't making big enough ones. "I just got loose, and Joey caught me, and he did a really good job of side-drafting me. I tried to hang on his quarter, and I just got really loose as soon as I got down in the corner. We were going so fast I couldn't correct it and drilled the wall." RELATED: Larson heartbroken after late lead slips away The victory was Logano's first in the non-points event. Team Penske 's 1-2 finish marked the first time an organization has swept the top two spots in the All-Star Race. After two segments of 50 laps each, which included a six-car Lap 73 wreck that eliminated the cars of Matt Kenseth , Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart (who was competing in his final All-Star Race), Logano restarted fifth on fresh tires under unique rules devised for this year's event. Larson, who restarted third behind two cars required to stay out on old rubber—those of Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch —surged into the lead and held the top spot until Logano tracked him down and made the winning pass on the next-to-last lap. Keselowski was the primary architect of this year's All-Star Race format, and he believed the new rules accomplished their purpose, even though there were unforeseen consequences that confused some of the competitors—as when Kenseth failed to make a mandatory green-flag stop in the first segment and trapped a handful of cars a lap down. "There was a next-to-last-lap pass for the lead," Keselowski said. "There were several passes for the lead. The last four (All-Star) races, there hasn't been a pass for the lead in the last 20 or 30 laps. I think our fans deserve a better format than that, and they got that today. "I don't know how you can get much more compelling racing than what we saw today, so they need to get unconfused and enjoy the racing."
Johnson 'intimidated' to co-host SportsCenter
Johnson will be first athlete to co-host ESPN program