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
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NASCAR Foundation to donate $1 million to NYU Langone Medical Center
NEW YORK -- The NASCAR Foundation will donate $1 million to NYU Langone Medical Center, as part of a multi-year partnership to benefit hospitalized children. Through this partnership, The NASCAR Foundation will enhance the Child Life Program at the Hassenfeld Children's Hospital of New York at NYU Langone. The partnership will be commemorated at the first-ever NASCAR Foundation Honors Gala taking place at The Marriott Marquis in New York on Sept. 27. This is The NASCAR Foundation's first multi-year partnership with a New York area hospital and marks its commitment to reach more kids nationally. NASCAR’s charitable arm has donated $25 million and impacted more than one million children since its inception in 2006. "This is an important partnership for The NASCAR Foundation," said NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton. "The work being done by the NYU Langone Medical Center is changing lives, each and every day. The NASCAR Foundation is proud to have an opportunity to support that important work and expand our commitment to improving the lives of children in need." Through this partnership, the Child Life Program will ease the anxiety of children and their families during their hospital stay, which is essential to recovery. The NASCAR Foundation will support an enhanced child and family experience, fund two Child Life specialists, and provide resources, equipment and supplies to complement the wide-range of supportive and therapeutic activities currently offered at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at no charge to patients. This marks an expansion of The NASCAR Foundation's commitment to supporting children with Child Life programming as part of its signature Speediatrics program, which has provided more than 500,000 children with state-of-the-art medical care. "As leaders in the field of pediatrics, we're proud to partner with The NASCAR Foundation whose generous philanthropic support provides extensive and meaningful programs to help children and their families," said Catherine S. Manno, MD, the Pat and John Rosenwald Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone. "This sponsorship, in concert with our Sala Institute for Child and Family Centered Care, will strengthen our national exemplar model of care for children and their families." The NASCAR Foundation Honors Gala, which was planned to celebrate "10 Years of Giving," has taken on additional significance following the unexpected passing of its Founder and Chairwoman Emeritus Betty Jane France last month. The Gala will be a tribute to Betty Jane France's life and is being hosted by the France family including NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France (son) and his wife Amy France, International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy (daughter) and NASCAR Vice Chairman and International Speedway Corporation Chairman Jim France (brother-in-law). At the Honors Gala, various awards will be bestowed, including: -- Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presented by Nationwide : One of four finalists will be announced as the winner following a fan vote which has taken place since July 13. The NASCAR Foundation will donate a total of $175,000 to the charities represented by the finalists -- with the winner's charity receiving a $100,000 donation. This year's finalists include Jim Giaccone of Bayville, New York, representing Tuesday's Children; Andy Hoffman of Atkinson, Nebraska, founder of the Team Jack Foundation; Logan Houptley of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a founding member of Mikayla's Voice; and Parker White of Greensboro, North Carolina, founder of BackPack Beginnings. Since the award's inception, nearly $900,000 has been contributed to charities represented by the finalists . -- Children's Champion Award: Dr. Howard B. Ginsburg : The William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Associate Professor of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, and Division Chief, Pediatric Surgery at NYU Langone, will receive the award recognizing his commitment to children. -- Founder's Award: NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus will receive the award recognizing his contributions to philanthropy. The Honors Gala will be headlined by Grammy® and Tony® nominated singer Sara Bareilles . The following NASCAR champions and rising stars will be in attendance: six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson , seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Richard Petty , reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch , NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, two-time NASCAR XFINITY Series Champions Martin Truex Jr . and Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., Danica Patrick , Kyle Larson , Kasey Kahne , Ben Kennedy and Julia Landauer. This event builds on NASCAR's long history in New York. The racing organization opened its first office in Manhattan in 1996 and is based out of the newly renovated New York headquarters at 590 Madison Avenue. This partnership also marks further collaboration between NYU and NASCAR. In March, Brian France participated in NYU's first Social Responsibility of Sports Conference where he pledged NASCAR's support to improve social responsibility in sports. For ticket information or table sponsorships, please visit www.nascarfoundation.org/honors-gala .
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