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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 .
Johnson remembers new teammate Byron as trick-or-treater
MORE: Hendrick signs Byron For a while there, Jimmie Johnson had a hold on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that resulted in five straight championships and six overall. The Hendrick Motorsports driver was so good, it was like he was taking candy from a baby. Johnson , being the nice guy that he is, apparently likes to give candy back to the proverbial baby every Halloween. And now one of those trick-or-treaters is his Hendrick teammate in William Byron, who the organization officially signed Thursday. "Yeah, I've definitely been paying attention to him. We live in the same neighborhood and I can recall him trick-or-treating at my house in one of the rare opportunities we were home," Johnson said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway . "I absolutely know who he is and have gotten to know him and have seen him around home. "I think he's an amazing talent with a great head on his shoulders and I’m very excited that he's under the Hendrick umbrella now. Hopefully we can take advantage of his youth and great talent and give him a great run. I'm excited that he's on the team." Byron will drive for JR Motorsports in the XFINITY Series in 2017 -- and that's no trick.
'The battery is charged' for Johnson
Jimmie Johnson dropped in to talk with the gathered media at Bristol Motor Speedway and touched on his outlook as his team heads towards The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Cain: No need to panic about struggling Hendrick
Who's panicking? Not the Hendrick Motorsports team, as some have suggested. Working overtime, brainstorming, gritting their teeth and rolling up their sleeves? Perhaps. But this organization -- which hasn't celebrated a victory since March -- knows a little something about challenging for NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series championships, and it would be naïve and foolhardy to believe the team's summer doldrums are a definitive sign of playoff potential. At least that's what history has shown us. And what Jimmie Johnson tells us. And what team owner Rick Hendrick has assured. "A lot of hard work went on during the break that we had," Johnson said last weekend at Bristol, Tennessee. "Just judging by the excitement from (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and all the way through to Mr. Hendrick, we're definitely turning over some stones and are hopeful to bring a little better product to the race track week in and week out. "We've been struggling at times, trying to produce speed and lap times of late and making mistakes in the process. We're still rallying with some decent finishes from time to time, but then again, still having some bad luck. I think Watkins Glen kind of speaks to that as well; and also self-inflicted mistakes. "I think come Chase time, in the middle of the Chase, the way things are looking back at the shop, and the excitement I see in all the departments, we're expecting a good late-season surge for Hendrick Motorsports ." Labor Day -- which traditionally marks the end of summer -- can't come soon enough for this team. Johnson is the only member of this Fab Four lineup to hoist a trophy this season, and the six-time champ did it twice right off the bat -- winning the second race of the year at Atlanta, then three weeks later in California. Chase Elliott opened his rookie campaign with 11 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races, including pole positions for the Daytona 500 and at Talladega Superspeedway . And he capped off that season-starting run with a career-best runner-up at Michigan International Speedway -- where the series returns this weekend. Kasey Kahne is also seeking his first trophy of the year, but already has six top 10s -- more than halfway to his entire total (10) from last year. And he has won at both Michigan (2006 from the pole position) and at Richmond, Virginia (2005), where the Chase field will be formally set on Sept. 10. As the Chase Grid stands now, Kahne is tied with Kyle Larson , three positions shy of qualifying. They trail 16th-place Ryan Newman by 39 points. With Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return still unknown as he recovers from concussion-like symptoms, the feared Hendrick foursome realizes it is a threesome come title time. But it remains a championship threat. "Our guys have been working really hard these past few weeks," said Elliott, who is Chase-eligible by being ranked 12th in the standings. "Everybody is fired up at Hendrick Motorsports . Mr. Hendrick himself is fired up -- he has been around the shop a lot. We are all just trying to give it the best effort we can to try and make the most of these next 14 weeks. "We are all working hard, we are all in. Hopefully, Michigan will be a step in the right direction." In the past -- such as during Johnson's jaw-dropping six title runs in eight years – this team has made it look almost too easy. So Toyota has stepped it up, winning its first Cup championship last year with Kyle Busch and collecting 11 trophies already this year. Ford's been every bit a player, as well, with Team Penske drivers -- Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano -- earning enough trophies (five) between the two of them to keep the others honest this season. And Hendrick's Chevy "alliance" partner, the Stewart-Haas Racing team, has certainly come to the party with at least three Chase entrants including 2014 Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick , who won his second race Sunday at Bristol and leads the championship standings; team owner Tony Stewart , who won at Sonoma , California; and Kurt Busch , who is ranked third in points. And while Johnson's two wins and Elliott's poles seem like it's business as usual, there is a new sense of urgency to right the Hendrick ship heading into the Chase. Johnson has the two wins, but he has only three top 10s in the last 14 races, a stretch that also includes four finishes of 30th or worse. Similarly, Elliott hasn't had a top-10 since his runner-up at Michigan. And Kahne has only one top 10 in that time. "We have been struggling this year, have not been as good as we want or should be," Hendrick said over the weekend while admitting he's even gotten up at 4:30 am to go to the wind tunnel with his team. "We know we have the ingredients and we're not satisfied, and we're going to do whatever it takes. That's been our motto all these years. We're at, what, 242 wins in Cup series? And we're not done. "Nobody's satisfied. We've wrecked more cars. … Haven't led races like we usually do. Not making any excuses, we've got to get to work. That's the deal. We're all committed and we're all excited. Nobody stays on top forever but we're not happy where we are and we want to get back." "I'm accountable," Hendrick continued. "They're accountable. "When you're not doing well, you can walk away and point fingers or you can jump in it and say, 'Let's get with it. We know how to do it. Let's get better working together.' "I'm proud of our company and we're going to be better. I like the challenge."
Teams look for Chase edge at Chicagoland test
With the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup only one month away, several Sprint Cup Series teams will try to get a leg up on the competition at Chicagoland Speedway this week by taking part in an organizational test for the series. Thirteen teams are tentatively scheduled to make the trek to the 1.5-mile track for the two-day test initially scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 23-24. Because of weather in the area, the test was adjusted to an all day session on Tuesday running into the night. Drivers expected to be on hand are: -- Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet) -- Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet) -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ( Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford)--- Trevor Bayne filled in so Stenhouse could attend Bryan Clauson's services -- Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota) -- Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford) -- Joey Logano ( Team Penske No. 22 Ford) -- David Ragan ( BK Racing No. 23 Ford) -- Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet) -- Chris Buescher ( Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford) -- Brian Scott ( Richard Petty Motorsports No. 44 Ford) -- Michael Annett ( HScott Motorsports No. 46 Chevrolet) -- Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet) -- Michael McDowell (Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet) Chicagoland is scheduled to host the opening Chase race, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, on Sunday, Sept. 18 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) That the test will be held so close to the race date "is huge," said six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson . "To be on the track in close proximity when we go back and race, we obviously have a lot going on just as all teams do trying to gear up and get ready for the Chase," he said. Johnson has 14 career starts at the 1.5-mile track, but it is one of four -- along with Watkins Glen, Homestead and Kentucky -- where he has yet to win. "We have all these great machines that simulate on-track activity at the shop but until you take it to the race track and put it to use you have no idea if it's really paying off," he said. "So we're looking to validate quite a few things and hopefully we get sunshine and really true conditions to what we'll see when we come back for the race." The Chicago test is the fourth of five organizational tests for Sprint Cup Series teams this season. The remaining test is scheduled at Homestead Miami Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 18-19.
Darlington paint scheme fan vote early top 10 revealed
RELATED: All the 2016 throwback paint schemes " Buy tickets " Vote now The Darlington Best In Show fan vote is underway, and we have some early returns to share. As Darlington Raceway celebrates NASCAR's history with its second of four planned throwback weekends for this year's Bojangles' Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET Sept. 4, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), fans are voting on their favorite paint schemes honoring drivers and paint schemes of yore. The top 10 vote-getters up until now are, in alphabetical order: AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch , Kyle Busch , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth , Casey Mears , David Ragan , Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr . The top five fan vote getters' paint schemes will be presented to a panel of NASCAR Hall of Fame members, who will make the final selection. The award for the Best Throwback Paint Scheme will be presented to the winning team and driver prior to the Bojangles' Southern 500 . &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Relive Mark Martin's dramatic win at Michigan in 2009
Jimmie Johnson runs out of fuel while leading in the closing laps, then Greg Biffle runs out of fuel on the final lap, opening the door for Mark Martin to win the 2009 LifeLock 400 in a dramatic fuel-mileage win.
Johnson's No. 48 to honor Pearson, Earnhardt at Darlington
RELATED: See all the Darlington throwbacks " BUY TICKETS: Darlington CONCORD, N.C. -- The throwback paint scheme featured on the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson for this year's Bojangles' Southern 500 pays tribute to a pair of former series champions and NASCAR Hall of Fame members. Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports entry will carry a familiar blue and yellow scheme reminiscent of the colors associated with Dale Earnhardt in which he captured rookie of the year honors for NASCAR's premier series in 1979 and the first of his seven series championships a year later. Earnhardt drove for team owner Rod Osterlund at that time. Earnhardt did not compete in the '79 Southern 500, the fourth and final race of the season he was forced to miss due to injuries sustained in a hard crash earlier that season at Pocono Raceway . Subbing for the team in those four events was three-time NASCAR premier series champion and Hall of Fame member David Pearson. Pearson finished second at Talladega, fourth at Michigan and seventh at Bristol before putting the team in victory lane at Darlington Raceway . It was his ninth title at Darlington, long considered the series' most difficult track to master, and his third in the Labor Day classic. "I think it's really cool," Chad Knaus, crew chief for Johnson , said Wednesday during the unveiling of the car. "I can remember the car and scheme from when I was younger, seeing it on television. "Obviously Dale's first championship (in 1980) came in a paint scheme similar to this." Earnhardt's nine Darlington wins are second only to Pearson's 10; he also won three Southern 500 titles. Lowe's Home Improvement, longtime sponsor of Johnson and the No. 48 HMS team, has a tie-in as well, providing funding for the No. 2 entry at Talladega in '79. More than two dozen throwback paint schemes for this year's running of the Bojangles' 500 (Sunday, Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) have been announced. The program launched last season and is expected to continue for the next several seasons. "The whole Darlington thing is a lot of fun, the environment is full of energy," Knaus, who'll sport a throwback-styled firesuit similar to that of his driver, said. "Maybe I'll get a couple of stopwatches (to time cars), too." Johnson , a six-time series champion, has three Darlington wins, two in the 500. "To get another victory there," Knaus said, "would be fantastic." &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Jimmie Johnson to highlight foundation at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 2, 2016) -- Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson will wear the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope, which features five charities working to improve K-12 public education, this weekend during the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. In addition, his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet will feature a special Jimmie Johnson Foundation 10th Anniversary paint scheme. "I am proud to highlight the great work of these charities on my Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope this weekend," Johnson said. "Because of the generosity of our amazing partners, Chandra (wife) and I have been able to support some incredible schools and non-profits in the 10 years since we launched the Foundation. We'd like to thank Lowe's for allowing us to run the Foundation paint scheme for the eleventh time and Blue Bunny for sponsoring the Helmet of Hope program again this year. We are so grateful." The Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program allows fans and consumers across the country to nominate and vote on not-for-profit (501c3) organizations that support K-12 public education. Each of the recipients was also awarded a $25,000 grant and a Blue Bunny Ice Cream party. The 5 recipient charities are: ArtWell in Philadelphia Carlos Gilbert Elementary Parents! Teachers! Kids! in Santa Fe, New Mexico Change for Kids in New York Inside the Outdoors Foundation in Costa Mesa, California Mercy Child Advocacy Center in Sioux City, Iowa "We are extremely proud to once again support the incredible work and commitment displayed by each of the organizations to assist K-12 public education," Wells said. "The passion around the mission of each of these organizations is evident through the rallying of their supporters to vote and ultimately secure additional needed funding. It never ceases to amaze me at how creative and driven all of the organizations are to securing the votes needed." In addition to the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program, the Foundation operates the Champions Grant program in partnership with Lowe's, which provides cash grants to schools in the Johnson's hometowns and where they currently live; Team Up For Technology, a $48,000 technology makeover open to schools nationwide; and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Wellness Challenge, a series of three athletic events in Charlotte, N.C. as well as a virtual triathlon. To date, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation has contributed more than $8.8 million to schools and non-profits across the country.