Chad and Jimmie expand on what it means to tie Cale Yarborough
Go inside Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Victory Lane and catch up with Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus after Johnson ties Cale Yarborough with his 83rd Monster Energy Series win.
Chad Knaus accepts Crew Chief of the Year Award
Chad Knaus, crew chief of the No. 48 team, accepts the Crew Chief of the Year Award at the 2016 Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon.
Patrick: 'Chad Knaus would've killed me'
Host shares story of his last NASCAR experience Chatting with Kansas winner Joey Logano on his NBCSN simulcasted talk show, "The Dan Patrick Show" on Monday morning, host Dan Patrick shared a funny little story about the last time he was at a NASCAR race -- and why he might not be welcome back. "I was in Chicago a couple of years ago and I almost leaned on Jimmie Johnson 's spoiler, pre-race," Patrick said. Uh oh. " Chad Knaus, I think, would've killed me. I was talking to Jimmie right before the race and I almost leaned on his spoiler." Logano, quick on his feet, noted that if he bent it the right way, Knaus may have even thanked him. "If you were pulling it back, or something, ( Chad ) might've been okay with it." Not that he would know anything about those sort of hijinks. RELATED: NASCAR to police flared skirts in 2015 Still, Logano wants the host to come out to a race to cheer him on – well, maybe. "I don't know if you want me out there, Joey," Patrick said. "Because then I'm going to want to get in your pits and I'm going to want to work the pits." Logano, entrenched in a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup run, can't take any risks and responded appropriately. "Then just don't come."
With Cup drivers watching, Little seizes Loudon K&N win
First K&N Pro Series East victory for NASCAR Next driver comes in front of influential eyes
Secret weapon? Grubb's JGR past could help Hendrick
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend Darian Grubb, who spent the past four years as a crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing , says his time there could be beneficial as Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson attempts to win a record-tying seventh Sprint Cup Series title this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "I hope so," said Grubb, now the vehicle production manager at HMS. "If nothing else, it helps me to understand a little bit more about how their mentality was and how they approached races and what they did to prepare. Some of the strategies and the choices you would make going into a championship race, I know what they had done in the past." Johnson is the lone HMS representative in this year's Championship 4 and is going into battle against a pair of JGR drivers in defending series champion Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards , as well as Team Penske representative Joey Logano . "The sport changes so much day to day, year to year; I don't know that it's a huge advantage but hopefully it's something I can help Jimmie and Chad (Knaus, crew chief) a little bit with," Grubb told NASCAR.com on Tuesday. "Just 'Here's what their old mindset was and how they would approach things in the past.' Just so they can think about it." Since the beginning of 2016, chassis production and body hanging programs have been under Grubb's watch at HMS. He also provides engineering consultation and support to all four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams fielded by the organization. He understands the race-day pressure, having weathered the storm from atop the pit box. Grubb was the lead engineer for the 48 of Johnson and the 24 of then-driver Jeff Gordon in 2006 when he was pressed into service after Knaus received a four-race suspension for violations before the Daytona 500 . Grubb helped guide Johnson to the Daytona 500 win as well as a win three weeks later in Las Vegas. Johnson went on to capture the first of five consecutive championships that season. RELATED: Why Johnson will win the 2016 championship He moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009, and two years later Grubb was a part of one of the biggest comebacks in series history as driver Tony Stewart won five of 10 Chase races, including the season-ending event at Homestead. Stewart beat Edwards to win his third series crown. In an unusual turn of events, Grubb was released by SHR following the '11 season, a move that had been determined before the start of the 10-race playoff. During his four-year tenure at JGR, Grubb led Denny Hamlin to seven victories; paired with Edwards last year, the No. 19 team won twice and finished fifth in the overall standings. Monday evening, Grubb got the chance to relive the 2011 championship as NBCSN replayed the race and Stewart chimed in via Twitter throughout the event. "Watching it on TV, it all came back to me," Grubb said. "I felt like I was living in the moment again. There was just so much drama that happened. "It was so much fun to be there, honestly. We had nothing to lose; we could not finish worse than second no matter what happened. And we knew if we won, there was no way that Carl could win the championship regardless of leading the most laps and all those other things. We just had to win and that was our mindset. "We went to the back I think three times. Had some bad pit stops and all kinds of damage to the car that we overcame -- then the rain two times. It was just fun. We could smile and laugh about it the whole weekend and just never get really stressed out. That's what made it so much more enjoyable when it was all done." At one point Monday evening, Grubb tweeted that he hoped Johnson was watching the replay "to get fired up." "Because I got so fired up watching that to go to Homestead now," he said. "That track is so awesome; to be able to run so many different lines and three- and four-wide passes. Just knowing what Jimmie is capable of, I think it's going to be hard for anybody to count him out. We just have to make sure we don't do anything to take ourselves out and let Jimmie go out there and earn it." Can Johnson win No. 7 at Homestead, one of four tracks where he has yet to visit Victory Lane? The No. 48 entry will be one that's been run elsewhere with good results. "It's been back to the wind tunnel and had some more love applied to it," Grubb said. "We're hoping it goes out there and unloads fast. "We've got Jimmie Johnson so that'll put us a leg up on anybody at any given time." The season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 is scheduled for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC, MRN, SiriusXN NASCAR). MORE: Johnson has never had to win at Miami
Jesse Little looks ahead to Truck debut
NASCAR Next driver set to take on Monster Mile DOVER, Del. -- Sporting a grin from ear to ear, Jesse Little walked into the media center on Thursday at Dover International Speedway ready to take on the weekend. Piloting the No. 97 Carolina Nut Company Toyota for ThorSport Racing, the 18-year-old K&N Pro Series East regular and NASCAR Next driver will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at the Monster Mile on Friday. "I've been looking forward to this weekend for a long time," Little said. "I know this is a family-owned team and we've put a lot of hard work and preparation into this weekend and I think my Camping World Truck Series start at Dover is something that still hasn't hit me yet. But I'm certainly excited and I love coming to this place. I enjoy it very much and I'm looking forward to a great weekend." Sitting side-by-side to Little during the press conference were two of the Truck Series' youngest drivers, 17-year-olds Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek . With just a total of 23 starts shared between the two drivers, they offered Little any bit of advice they could give for his first Truck start. "I'd say take it easy, especially the first lap of the race," Custer advised Little . "It's amazing how much the air affects these things. I was honestly scared for my life the first time I did it." In Custer's first start at Dover last season he finished 14th. "Just finish the race," Nemechek told Little with a chuckle. "Run as many laps as you can to get the experience." In Nemechek's first start at Dover last season he finished sixth. Little , Custer and Nemechek are all on this season's NASCAR Next roster and agree that the program has brought the young drivers together. "It makes it enjoyable for us as drivers when we know we have someone we can go to and talk to and they'll understand," Little said. "It makes it easier and at the same time it makes it fun." Manning Little's pit box is another familiar face to the young driver. Harold Holly, a 19-time winning crew chief in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and former pit boss for Little's father, Chad , who is currently NASCAR's managing director, technical inspection/officiating. Holly will be calling the shots during Friday's Lucas Oil 200 (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). "Harold and I go way back ... He's always been a great family friend," Little said" "Him and I have great chemistry and that goes the same for the ThorSport guys. It's been great to have their help. I have the ability to lean on (ThorSport teammates) Matt (Crafton) and Johnny (Sauter) and those guys and their knowledge is amazing and I'm definitely going to use that for my advantage and lean on those guys quite a bit this weekend." Lucky for Little , ThorSport Racing teammate Crafton just so happens to be a two-time Camping World Truck Series champion. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jesse Little teams with ThorSport for Truck debut
NASCAR Next driver to make first national series start at Dover Team Little Racing announced Friday afternoon that it has reached an agreement with ThorSport Racing for a part-time schedule for NASCAR Next driver Jesse Little in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season. Little , 18, had previously announced that he would make his truck tour debut May 29 at Dover International Speedway . Friday's announcement provided extra detail on his 2015 plans, including the partnership with ThorSport -- winner of the last two Camping World Truck Series championships with veteran Matt Crafton . "To have this alliance and support from ThorSport Racing for my Truck Series Events is a huge step forward for me, Team Little Racing and our partners," Little said in a release provided by his team. "Our goals are to put together solid finishes and represent ThorSport Racing, Duke Thorson and our sponsors including NASCAR Technical Institute and Performance Friction Brakes in a first-class manner." Thorson has fielded trucks in the series since 1996. His three-truck effort this season includes rides for Crafton, Johnny Sauter and rookie Cameron Hayley . "We look forward to supporting Jesse as he makes his transition into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series," Thorson said. "We feel that this alliance with ( Little ) will assist him in reaching his ultimate goal in NASCAR." Little will have a familiar face atop the pit box in Harold Holly, a 19-time winner as a crew chief in what is now called the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The veteran wrench spent two seasons as crew chief for Little's father, Chad , in both XFINITY and Sprint Cup competition. "Jesse is an impressive young man in so many aspects of life," Holly said. "He's a strong student, treats everyone with respect and is eager to learn new things. From a racing perspective Jesse has won at every level he's competed on, takes care of his equipment, provides his team with good feedback and knows how to pace himself during a race. This partnership with ThorSport Racing will give us a chance to compete at one of the sport's top levels where Jesse can show his skills. "We have solid goals, will work to be a good teammate and always be respectful on the track. As a team we're excited to get to Dover and see what our team can do in our Camping World Truck Series debut." Jesse Little is in his fourth season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he was the rookie of the year in 2013. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Inside look on official NASCAR inspection process
CONCORD, N.C. -- Traces of confetti were still stuck to Carl Edwards ' No. 19 Toyota and Dash 4 Cash bogus bills littered the hood of the entry of fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suarez . Crewmen that had arrived at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, earlier that September morning began their assigned tasks promptly at 8 a.m. ET. Edwards' group, along with those from the Team Penske Ford of Brad Keselowski and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team for driver Kasey Kahne , were the first to begin. They worked quietly and efficiently, removing specific parts from each entry and delivering them to a predetermined area nearby. NASCAR officials then began the process of inspecting the individual pieces, measuring and examining each one before moving on to the next. It's the final stop in the inspection process for NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, and occasionally the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series. While entries that qualify for a NASCAR event typically go through four separate inspections the previous race weekend (pre-qualifying, qualifying, pre-race and post-race), the winning and second-place entry, as well as a randomly selected car, arrive here at the R&D Center, where a final teardown takes place. "It's primarily the suspension officials, which are chosen by their supervisor … and the same with the engine group," NASCAR's Chad Little , Managing Director, Technical Inspection/Officiating, said. "Sometimes we do a detailed template inspection as well. But primarily it's suspension and engine." According to Little , teams whose cars are taken to the R&D Center (the cars are transported by NASCAR employees) after an event are officially notified by email following the race. The final post-race inspections are held on the following Tuesdays, and once teams arrive, they are given a detailed list of what specific parts are to be removed from each entry. "The team will go to work in pulling the engine and pulling those parts off the car," Little said. "The officials will inspect them and make sure they comply with the rules. It's usually all done by about 10:30 a.m. "We tear the car completely apart -- all the primary suspension parts come out." Engines are completely disassembled, fuel cells are removed, measured and checked and the transmissions are inspected as well. Before NASCAR began taking cars back to the R&D center, final post-race inspections were completed at the track following the event. Officials say bringing the cars back here provides a better environment and allows for a more detailed inspection. Weather is not longer a concern while officials and crewmen for the cars inspected no longer must spend hours after the race completing the various tasks. There is no limit to the number of employees a team may bring to complete the teardown as the center, "as many as they need," Little said. "And it's an open-door policy. "So any other team can come and observe. … They're parked right next to each other just like they are in the garage; nobody covers anything up. When the parts come off they're laid there for anybody else to see." If there is an issue, the series director is notified and the information moves up the management chain. "Before we issue (a penalty)," Little said, "it's thoroughly thought out." Almost one hour after work began, Edwards' Southern 500 winning car and Keselowski's No. 2 Ford have been checked and are rolled out of the main area. Kahne's entry isn't far behind and joins the JGR entry in the chassis room, where officials go over each with a Romer Absolute Arm, a computerized device that takes precise chassis measurements at various points on each car. It's a slow process for those who have other items on their agenda. Darian Grubb, crew chief for Edwards, had already been in three meetings with various JGR personnel before the teardown process got underway. Watching as crewmen went through their assigned tasks, he waited patiently until the inspection had been completed. That the winning car would be in pieces when it finally returned to the team's headquarters in nearby Huntersville wouldn't be an issue. "We'd normally go through all those things after getting the car back to shop anyway, so they'd have to come off," Grubb said. "That car will be turned around and we'll start to get it ready for Dover as quick as we get it back." By 10:40 a.m., the inspection process for Edwards' car has been completed, Keselowski's has already been loaded up and Kahne's Chevrolet is nearly finished. Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, the work had already begun on the XFINITY Series entries of Suarez and race winner Denny Hamlin .
Cain: Bigger and more memorable at Texas
RELATED: Gallery of memorable moments at Texas " Full weekend schedule FORT WORTH -- From track "weepers" and multicar inaugural-lap pileups to a winner's circle confrontation between two Indianapolis 500 champs, Texas Motor Speedway has been the site of some of the most remarkable, memorable and bizarre story lines of any circuit on the NASCAR circuit. The 1.5-mile oval outside Fort Worth celebrates its 20th year hosting a NASCAR race this week with Saturday night's Duck Commander 500 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.) And for those of us around at the very beginning, it seems a fitting time to reminisce a bit about the facility's famously storied early history. As they like to remind you in Texas, everything is "bigger" there. And it has been. The track's early trials and tribulations have only contributed to its great character and esteem. In my 25 years of sports journalism, the opening races at Texas Motor Speedway still remain among the most unforgettable times of my career. Never before and never since have I covered a specific beat that provided as much sensation, controversy and must-see-TV as TMS in the early years. Two decades later, the track located at the intersection of an interstate and two major Texas highways has evolved into one of the sport's most prestigious venues. It boasts the largest HD screen, named "Big Hoss," fantastic spectator seating and the most condominiums of any track on the circuit. Plus really great racing. Nearly 195,000 people showed up for the inaugural Texas race in 1997 and most of those who were ticket holders then still are, two decades later proving they are as faithful and optimistic as they were devoted. It turns out those have been good traits for this endeavor. MORE: Paint scheme preview for Texas I had just started work at The Dallas Morning News newspaper in the spring of 1997 a few weeks after Jeff Burton took the checkered flag for NASCAR's first Cup series race at Texas in April. The new facility was considered the "home track" to cover. After reporting on the Indianapolis 500 in May, I was immediately back home in Dallas, ready for the Indy Racing League's night-time debut at TMS the next week. There, a 26-year old future three-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart put on an open-wheel show for the ages, racing wheel-to-wheel lap-after-lap with Buddy Lazier. Stewart -- who went on to win two Cup races at Texas (2006 and 2011) -- led a race-high 100 of the 208 laps only to suffer an engine failure that night. But toward the end of the race there were questions regarding the scoring shown on the monitor in the press box. And soon after making my way down to the infield to prepare for a super-tight Saturday night newspaper deadline, the real craziness began. While trying to get post-race quotes from the apparent first-time winner Billy Boat ( XFINITY Series driver Chad's dad) and Boat's team owner, Texan A.J. Foyt, I was standing a few feet away when driver Arie Luyendyk confronted Foyt in Victory Lane. After questioning the results, challenging Foyt and suggesting he was actually the legitimate race winner, Luyendyk tumbled into the victory flowers. Boat and Foyt hoisted the trophy. It was surreal. I was on a crazy tight deadline. But the next day in a hastily called press conference, Luyendyk was declared the winner after USAC conceded a scoring error. After USAC officials suggested problems with the track's scoring system, TMS President Eddie Gossage took the press conference podium and strongly reminded that the speedway wasn't responsible for the scoring. "I got home at 3 in the morning knowing we gave the trophy to the wrong winner and had a press conference for 8 in the morning," said Gossage. "I go in to the press conference with two hours of sleep and I'm sitting in the back row and the head scorer for USAC says that the speedway's timing and scoring equipment didn't work. "He says it again and then a third time so I just walked up on stage and stepped up to the podium and eased him to the side and said, " Texas Motor Speedway doesn't own a stop watch. ... People have a right to know when they leave the race track who the winner is and we all didn't get what we paid for." Then after a dramatic exit and door slam, Gossage recalls, "My dad called from Tennessee and said, 'You were raised better, acting like an idiot on television for all the world to see, embarrassing me and your mom.' I said, 'What?' He said, 'You didn't know it was live on ESPN?' "I didn't. And then I was like, 'You're right, sir. I'm sorry. I know better.' " Gossage has a good laugh recalling the whole ordeal now. Foyt, who still disputes the result, kept the trophy and Luyendyk was given another one. A year later, Boat recalled of the evening, "We went into Victory Circle knowing nothing about a scoring error, only that someone was talking derogatory about our race team. You don't do that in a big Texan's Victory Circle." Luyendyk, of Holland, said the incident -- replayed repeatedly all over the world at the time -- actually made him and the Texas Motor Speedway more famous overseas. MORE: Gossage and drivers try to draw state of Texas And then in 1998 came NASCAR's second Cup try. After two multi-car accidents in the inaugural race, conventional wisdom promised this one just had to go down more smoothly. NASCAR's biggest stars such as Rusty Wallace, Ernie Irvan, Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin were among those who crashed in the opening race. Darrell Waltrip finished last after being involved in a 13-car wreck on the very first turn of the very first lap of Cup competition there. And Burton ended up winning by 4 seconds. Surely, everyone figured, the second race would be smoother. It wasn't. "Weepers" became a familiar word. The water seeping through the track caused qualifying to be completed a day late. And of all things, there was a huge 10-car accident on the second lap of the race. Jeff Gordon and yes, Waltrip, were collected in that melee. Mark Martin won the race by a half-second over Chad Little and Robert Pressley. Shortly after, TMS went through a re-paving and re-fitting, track owner Bruton Smith and Gossage committed to correction. "The first year it was just terrible and everything seemed to go wrong," Gossage conceded this week. "And the second year, obviously you try to improve so all of a sudden here's these weepers that came through. "I remember driving into the infield and in the rearview mirror saw Lake Speed knock the wall down in Turn 1 in qualifying. I thought, 'Oh no.' "I'm always the worst critic," Gossage said, logging the long hours readying for the weekend's big events. "There are things other people might not have noticed but I did. For some reason things worked really well in 1999 when Terry Labonte won and it's been better since then. That's the way a race weekend was supposed to go." Not only has it been better, it's typically a discussion point in every season review. In 2005, Texas finally got the second date it had longed for since I worked at the Dallas paper nearly a decade earlier. And the facility -- big enough to fit every Texas sporting stadium in its infield -- is also a big-time player in the Chase for the Sprint Cup . It's still providing those jaw-dropping, television highlight moments seemingly born with the track. Dale Earnhardt Jr . scored his first Cup win at TMS in April 2000. And Chase Elliott got his first XFINITY Series win here in 2014 driving for Junior at JR Motorsports. Gordon, who won this race in 2009, has starred in a couple TMS highlight reels, too. He was involved in a pair of high profile skirmishes from taking on Burton on-track after a wreck in 2010 to a crazy pit road scuffle with Brad Keselowski in 2014. "You have to be honest," Gossage said. "And looking back, it's just how things occurred. I wouldn't trade any of it, if it is what got us where we are. I'll take where we stand in our success as the most successful major market speedway in the history of this sport. I'll take that. "I won't trade my job with the guy running any other race track because I'm just so proud of what's been accomplished here."
Pit Road Officiating: From 'what-ifs' to Year 2
NASCAR's warm embrace of innovation was about to send out a pivotal trial balloon. The snazzy new Pit Road Officiating (PRO) system had been thoroughly tested and troubleshot, closing in on its goal of implementing technology to make officials' jobs more efficient and safer and to better enforce pit-road penalties. Still, there was a natural anxiety among the sanctioning body's competition officials ahead of its grand debut. "Just a common, normal apprehension," Chad Little explained, adding with understatement, "and just a little thing called the Daytona 500 ." Little , named to the new role of NASCAR's managing director in charge of technical inspection and officiating just 20 days ahead of last year's season-opening Great American Race, wasn't alone in sharing some mild anxiety. Media were given a tour of the then-nondescript trailer in the offseason, complete with a demonstration of the eight workstations where officials would cycle through double-time video footage to verify potential penalties against laser-mapped telemetry -- all in close to real time. There weren't vocal doubters, but uncertainty remained about how the system would work in real race conditions. RELATED: See photos from that tour Each event has its own importance, but with the maiden voyage taking place in stock-car racing's Super Bowl, the stakes were plenty high. "We're going into Daytona every year for our biggest race with not necessarily on pins and needles, but we're geared up, we know that we can do the job, but we're always thinking about the 'what-ifs,' and I'd be lying if that wasn't the case going into last year with the PRO system," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations. "But we had redundancies, we had a plan in place … for every scenario that we can imagine, but at the same time we know there's also the unknown. "Sometimes what we're the best at is dealing with things as they come along. In that case, fortunately, we enjoyed the fruits of it and it was more fine-tuning than dealing with any major issues, which is a credit to everybody involved." The PRO technology, which returns for its second year with a much higher comfort level entering next month's Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway , was on display earlier this week at the NASCAR Summit, the industry's annual preseason convention for track services, medical, safety and security workers. The record number of almost 900 attendees for the Summit's 15th year had the opportunity to tour the PRO trailer firsthand and learn about its intricacies. It turns out that many of those worries heading into 2015 were unfounded. All of the system's fail-safes performed as expected, and fears that the Pit Road Officiating trailer would be especially nitpicky in identifying infractions never materialized: Last year's Daytona 500 tallied 29 pit-road violations, compared to 31 for the previous season and 28 in the year before that. The races that followed took a similar pattern. "We were pretty much really comfortable with everything, but going into Daytona, we were concerned that what if we have 100 penalties," Little said. "We don't want to bog down the race with a bunch of travelling calls. We were real mindful of that, but we didn't know exactly what we had because it's a brand-new system. Those things develop throughout the year, but thank gosh we didn't have any stumbling blocks at Daytona." WATCH SYSTEM IN ACTION: Footage of over-the-wall penalty for No. 88 Learning logistics Attendees at Monday's sessions at the NASCAR Summit received guidelines about how to best prepare their tracks for year two of the Pit Road Officiating structure. The seminar stressed the importance of uniformity in painting the bordering lines to pit boxes and the need to coordinate with NASCAR officials when mounting the 50 cameras that capture pit stop footage during the course of a race. Adhering to those instructions tends to make life easier for George Grippo, NASCAR's managing director of technology field and media operations. Beyond the PRO system, his responsibilities include the logistics of the trackside TV compound, timing and scoring, user support and maintenance and all the wiring, cables and power needed to make the technology go. The biggest learnings from PRO's first season, Grippo said, were that camera placement is paramount and that every track presents its own set of obstacles. Bristol Motor Speedway , for instance, had an accommodating roofline but cameras were mounted at much higher angles than a larger track such as Michigan International Speedway , where cameras were placed over the top row at the back of the grandstands at a greater distance. At Sonoma Raceway, cameras were located on a makeshift mount on heavy scissor-lift equipment aimed at pit road. In each instance, working with tracks became imperative. "Every time we went to a new place, it was a challenge," Grippo says. "I think now we've kind of gotten that stuff dialed in, but first-year growing pains were all around, trying to figure it out on the fly -- and you don't have a lot of time."
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