Phone call changes Jimmie Johnson's Chase outlook
RELATED: See the Chase Grid LOUDON, N.H. -- Jimmie Johnson felt certain he'd be facing a much larger deficit in the second event of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. A points penalty for his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet failing its post-race pass through the Laser Inspection Station (LIS) platform last week likely would have dropped him into the bottom four of the 16-driver postseason field. But Johnson said he received a phone call Wednesday afternoon on his way back from his race shop that altered his outlook. NASCAR competition officials had just implemented a midweek update regarding minor LIS infractions, offering a reprieve for both himself and the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 team of last weekend's race winner, Martin Truex Jr . "I was just taking my lumps and going on with my business and then kind of Christmas showed up in September," Johnson said Friday after qualifying fourth for Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . "Just unexpected, but happy." NASCAR's competition department announced Wednesday that P2 and P3-level penalties would be eliminated for lesser LIS violations found in post-race inspections, leaving the stricter P4-grade punishments in place for more egregious infractions. Truex, who automatically advanced to the Chase's next round with his victory at Chicagoland Speedway , and Johnson were not penalized in the points standings. Johnson said he was pleasantly surprised, though he knew his car was slightly outside of the allowable measurements for its rear axle offset, or "skew." "I really feel NASCAR was trying to create a penalty system that was more forgiving," Johnson said. "Stuff bends, stuff moves, and they set those tolerances up to really help the garage area and then to keep cars failing out of the headlines. But it's tough. There's a lot of moving parts in these cars and of course we're trying to get as much skew as we can and we failed. "I'm sure directionally, it was an advantage. Everybody will take every hundredth of an inch they can get. I think we were four thousandths over. I don't know how much of an advantage you can get in four thousandths. That's awfully, awfully small, but we're in a world now where it's black or white." The non-penalty kept Johnson in the heart of the Chase's opening round, slotted eighth with a 13-point spread behind series leader Truex. Four drivers will be eliminated from championship eligibility after next weekend's race at Dover International Speedway , where Johnson has won a record 10 times. Johnson's current ranking could be worse had the penalty taken effect, but it could have been better as well. Johnson was solidly on the verge of a top-five finish last week at Chicagoland, but a pit-road speeding penalty on his penultimate stop bumped him outside the top 10. Johnson said he began to accelerate just 2 feet too early at the pit-exit line, sending him over the speed limit for the final timing section and offsetting the performance strides the No. 48 team had made in recent weeks. "We've definitely been showing speed over the last month and a half," Johnson said. "That's been something that's very welcomed and it's been a lot of hard work to get to that point. Unfortunately, mistakes still are continuing to happen and last week was on me." RELATED: Hear Johnson's reaction on the scanner
Late speeding penalty plagues Jimmie Johnson
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Chase gear JOLIET, Ill. -- Jimmie Johnson drove the final 35 laps or so at Chicagoland Speedway in disbelief. His chance for a victory -- or at least a solid top-five finish -- in Sunday's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener fizzled the moment he was tagged for speeding as he left pit road after his final green-flag stop. Johnson rallied from the late-race pass-through penalty to finish 12th in Sunday's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, salvaging a so-so result in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet. But it was far from what could have been after Johnson -- who displayed dazzling speed all weekend -- led four times for a race-high 118 laps. "I'm making adjustments and I was dumbfounded that happened," Johnson said. "You can't argue it. Maybe a mistake on our part somewhere, definitely a mistake on my side, but I by no way shape or form thought that I was speeding. I was probably the slowest down pit road all day just to try to avoid it and got nailed. I will soak on it tonight and come back next week and be at 100 percent again and get ready to take this Lowe's car to Victory Lane." Johnson led laps in bunches, surging to the top spot after the opening round of pit stops. Down the stretch, he ran second to Hendrick teammate Chase Elliott , who was in position for his first Sprint Cup victory before a late caution flag threw the finishing order into disarray. But Johnson's main obstacle arose before the overtime finish ever materialized. NASCAR race officials docked Johnson's No. 48 in the 234th of 270 laps, and the driver screamed over the team communications to express his incredulity. On pit road afterward, Johnson was still scratching his head. Finishing 12th and maintaining the eighth spot in the Chase standings with two races left in the Round of 16 weren't much consolation. "It's not as bad as I expected, but I've got to stop screwing up," Johnson said. "I didn't think I screwed up. I mean, I was completely shocked that I was fast. I'm way under, just being cautious and still got dinged leaving that last segment. I couldn't believe it. Just mind-boggling." Before he was flagged for the wrong sort of speed, Johnson's No. 48 Chevy was a bright light in the performance department, showing sustained long-haul power in the weekend's practices. His Hendrick Motorsports teammates also enjoyed an increase in their race-day pace, with Chase Elliott , Kasey Kahne and fill-in Alex Bowman all finishing in the top 10. "Encouraging for the cars, for sure," Johnson said. "I've just got to stop screwing up."
Jimmie Johnson calls out 'timid drivers' on The Late Late Show
RELATED: Johnson , Elliott, Chase drivers talk Chase across the nation Hendrick Motorsports driver and six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson joined James Corden on "The Late Late Show" to talk cars, driving and the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Tuesday evening, and the Chase contender has a message to timid drivers -- you're the "root of the problem." "When you're in New York, and the madness on the streets, what happens when there's a timid driver on the road? ... It creates a problem (for) all those cabbies and everybody that's driving," Johnson said. Shockingly, a man that spends his Sundays topping 200 mph has a problem with drivers that are scared to top 20. That said, "Six-Time" certainly doesn't hate city driving. "It's fun to drive in the city, too, by the way. You just wheel it and (go) five-wide and you get the honking going on, too, and everybody's fine, because they're aggressive, but get a timid one in the mix and it's a problem." Luckily for Jimmie, he'll share the road with 39 other aggressive drivers on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Watch the full clip below.
Jimmie Johnson leads first Chicagoland Sprint Cup practice
RELATED: Full practice results " Top 10 consecutive lap averages Jimmie Johnson topped the leaderboard in Friday’s lone Sprint Cup Series practice at Chicagoland Speedway at 183.780 mph in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Right behind him was Carl Edwards in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 183.299 mph. Rounding out the top five were Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 182.927 mph, Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford at 182.655 mph and Chase Elliott in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 182.568 mph. The top seed of the Chase, Kyle Busch was 10th-fastest with a speed of 181.990 mph in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Early in the session, Kurt Busch had a vibration problem and had to change the drive shaft before returning to the track. At the end of the session, Alex Bowman brought out the red flag when he spun out near the pit road entrance. The next practice session is Saturday at 10:30 a.m. ET (CNBC/NBC SportsApp).
Edwards to start from pole in New Hampshire once again
RELATED: Starting lineup " See the full field LOUDON, N.H. – Carl Edwards never had the reputation as a spectacular qualifier – until this year. On Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Edwards ran 135.453 mph (28.119 seconds) in the money round of knockout qualifying to earn the top start spot in Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The Coors Light Pole Award was Edwards sixth of the year, doubling his previous single-season best. It was his third at New Hampshire, all coming in the last four races at the Magic Mile, and the 22nd of his career. Edwards edged fellow Toyota driver and last week’s race winner, Martin Truex Jr . (135.212 mph) for the top starting spot by .05 seconds. During a qualifying session that started slowly because more than a dozen cars were late to the grid thanks to inspection issues, Chase drivers grabbed 10 of the top 12 starting spots for Sunday’s race. Non-Chaser Ryan Newman (134.896 mph) qualified third, followed by Jimmie Johnson (134.858 mph) and Denny Hamlin (134.796 mph). Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray were sixth and seventh, respectively, with Matt Kenseth and non-Chaser Kasey Kahne eighth and ninth. Chase Elliott , Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch completed the top 12. "These Toyotas are really fast," said Edwards, who spent considerable time in qualifying trim earlier in the day. "It's a fun place to drive when your car's that good. (Crew chief) Dave (Rogers) made great changes. "That’s what we needed. We didn't run well at Chicago (a 15th-place finish). I was very frustrated. So to come here and start on the pole and get great pit stall, hopefully we can turn this into a good race." With his sixth pole of the year, Edwards won the Coors Light 6-Pack Award, worth $25,000 to the charity of the driver's choice. "Half of it's going to Speedway Children’s Charities and half to the NASCAR Foundation in honor of Betty Jane France," Edwards said. "It's really cool of MillerCoors to do that. It’s going to help a lot of people." With a long family history at the track, Truex covets a win at the Magic Mile and was delighted with his front-row starting spot. "I've been after this one a long time," said Truex, whose father, Martin Truex Sr., raced in both the Busch North and XFINITY Series at NHMS. "I feel like we’ve been close before, and there's no other track I'd rather win at right now." Notes: Elliott's No. 24 Chevrolet received its fourth written warning for failure of pre-qualifying inspection and will have the last choice of pit stalls… The No. 4 Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick , the 2014 series champion, also had inspection issues and qualified 19th after getting to the grid. Harvick is 14th in the standings after a 20th-place run at Chicagoland. The 13th-16th-place drivers will be eliminated from the Chase after the Oct. 2 race at Dover… Truex led the second round of qualifying at 135.236 mph, a session that saw the four fastest drivers all within .010 seconds of each other. </p>
Johnson : 'Gotta stop screwing up' after speeding penalty
Jimmie Johnson speaks to his speeding penalty at Chicagoland Speedway, which took him out of the running for the victory.
Larson sweeps all three Sprint Cup practices at New Hampshire
RELATED: Full results for final practice Kyle Larson made it a perfect sweep of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices, as his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet flew to the top of the leaderboard at 132.577 mph in Saturday's final practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Larson paced the field in Friday's lone session and tied Martin Truex Jr . for the fastest speed/time in Saturday's morning practice. Joe Gibbs Racing 's Denny Hamlin made a late surge to nab the second spot on the speed charts, wheeling his No. 11 Toyota at 132.549 mph. Hendrick Motorsports ' Kasey Kahne laid down the third-fastest speed, his No. 5 Chevrolet peaking at 132.489 mph. Kahne and teammate Alex Bowman (10th), who is driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr . this weekend, were the only non-Chase drivers to record top-15 speeds in the final session. Pole sitter Carl Edwards came up fourth in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (132.420 mph), while Hendrick Motorsports ' Jimmie Johnson completed the top five with a fast speed of 132.255 mph from his No. 48 Chevrolet. Points leader Truex Jr. -- who tied Larson for the fastest speed in practice earlier today -- ranked sixth in the field this session, propelling his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota at 132.250 mph. Reigning race winner Matt Kenseth was seventh-fastest, his No. 20 JGR Toyota topping out at 132.222 mph. Jamie McMurray (18th), Austin Dillon (22nd) and Chris Buescher (28th) were the only Chase drivers to record practice speeds outside the top 15. The Sprint Cup Series returns to the track Sunday for the Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). RELATED: Full results for Practice 2 Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr . both reached 132.186 mph early in the second Sprint Cup Series practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday morning. The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver also paced the field during Friday's lone Sprint Cup practice session in his No. 42 Chevrolet. Last weekend's Chicagoland winner, Truex Jr. in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota laid down the exact same speed (132.186 mph) and lap time (28.814 seconds) as Larson in the 55-minute session. Reigning race winner Matt Kenseth was third-fastest, his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota reaching a top speed of 132.085 mph, while his JGR teammate Denny Hamlin came up fourth in the field (132.030 mph). Hendrick Motorsports ' Chase Elliott rounded out the top five with a top speed of 131.980 mph in his No. 24 Chevrolet. Coors Light Pole winner Carl Edwards was sixth-fastest in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. The top-nine performers in the second session were all Chase drivers and Chasers made up 11 of the top-15; Brad Keselowski (18th), Tony Stewart (19th), Austin Dillon (23rd) and Chris Buescher (33rd) were the outlying Chase competitors.
Top 10 consecutive lap averages at New Hampshire
RESULTS: Practice 1 Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 5 Kasey Kahne 5 14 131.273 2 10 Danica Patrick 1 10 126.870 RESULTS: Practice 2 Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 78 Martin Truex Jr 2 11 131.139 2 20 Matt Kenseth 15 24 131.033 3 18 Kyle Busch 23 32 130.757 4 11 Denny Hamlin 24 33 130.754 5 24 Chase Elliott # 3 12 130.576 6 42 Kyle Larson 24 33 130.559 7 27 Paul Menard 2 11 130.472 8 31 Ryan Newman 2 11 130.462 9 88 Alex Bowman (i) 32 41 130.366 10 48 Jimmie Johnson 3 12 130.334 11 19 Carl Edwards 8 17 130.316 12 1 Jamie McMurray 6 15 129.924 13 41 Kurt Busch 20 29 129.825 14 23 David Ragan 1 10 129.795 15 3 Austin Dillon 17 26 129.785 16 2 Brad Keselowski 20 29 129.499 17 43 Aric Almirola 13 22 129.476 18 44 Brian Scott # 27 36 128.899 19 95 Michael McDowell 6 15 128.823 20 21 * Ryan Blaney # 1 10 128.743 21 15 Clint Bowyer 9 18 128.458 22 34 Chris Buescher # 26 35 127.980 RESULTS: Practice 3 Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 19 Carl Edwards 13 22 131.663 2 4 Kevin Harvick 28 37 131.401 3 42 Kyle Larson 24 33 131.342 4 18 Kyle Busch 35 44 131.337 5 48 Jimmie Johnson 1 10 131.279 6 11 Denny Hamlin 2 11 131.167 7 24 Chase Elliott # 34 43 131.113 8 5 Kasey Kahne 1 10 131.069 9 20 Matt Kenseth 2 11 130.927 10 88 Alex Bowman (i) 1 10 130.902 11 41 Kurt Busch 23 32 130.869 12 78 Martin Truex Jr 2 11 130.842 13 2 Brad Keselowski 34 43 130.761 14 22 Joey Logano 23 32 130.705 15 14 Tony Stewart 1 10 130.675 16 27 Paul Menard 3 12 130.561 17 31 Ryan Newman 1 10 130.411 18 1 Jamie McMurray 1 10 130.216 19 3 Austin Dillon 18 27 129.938 20 43 Aric Almirola 1 10 129.656 21 47 AJ Allmendinger 1 10 129.645 22 6 Trevor Bayne 19 28 129.635 23 10 Danica Patrick 27 36 129.247 24 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 16 25 129.231 25 21 * Ryan Blaney # 22 31 129.058 26 44 Brian Scott # 20 29 128.788 27 7 Regan Smith 1 10 128.720 28 95 Michael McDowell 1 10 128.572 29 16 Greg Biffle 7 16 128.554 30 13 Casey Mears 16 25 128.542 31 34 Chris Buescher # 24 33 128.528 32 15 Clint Bowyer 22 31 128.318 33 23 David Ragan 1 10 128.176 34 38 Landon Cassill 30 39 127.961 *Car must run 10 consecutive laps on the track to be included in the above chart. # denotes rookie (i) denotes ineligible for points
Johnson penalized early for body modification
Jimmie Johnson is hit with a penalty early and has to pit on Lap 103 after running in the top 10 due to an illegal body modification at Darlington Raceway.
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.