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Victory Lane: John King
A speechless John King talks about winning his first Truck Series race at Daytona of all places.
Daytona winner King smacks the wall
John King gets loose entering Turn 2 and hits the wall.
King wins, Coulter flips in wild finish at DIS
John King avoids calamity to take the victory, while Joey Coulter goes for a wild and scary ride at the finish.
Jimmy John's re-ups with Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick
RELATED: Drivers on the move in 2017 Stewart-Haas Racing announced Thursday that Jimmy John's has renewed its partnership with its No. 4 Chevrolet team and driver Kevin Harvick in a multiyear agreement. With the extension, Jimmy John's will be the primary sponsor of the No. 4 Chevy in 16 races, including the season-opening Daytona 500 . The Illinois-based sandwich chain will serve as a major associate sponsor in the remaining 22 events. Jimmy John's has been associated with Harvick as a primary sponsor in NASCAR's top division since 2011. Jimmy John's followed Harvick from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas in 2014, expanding its backing of his racing efforts. "We are fortunate to partner with Kevin for many years in a very meaningful way," restaurant founder Jimmy John Liautaud said in a release provided by the team. "On and off the track, Kevin and (wife) DeLana Harvick are winners in all they do, and Stewart-Haas Racing has proven to be an excellent home for them and for Jimmy John's ." Said Harvick: "I've known Jimmy since 2009 and I've personally seen how driven he is and how his work ethic is embraced by Jimmy John's franchise owners. He wants to be the best, period. And he'll out-work everyone to be the best. That's the same mindset we have in racing. I'm proud to continue this partnership with Jimmy John's at Stewart-Haas Racing ." Jimmy John's also sponsored Harvick's efforts as an owner/driver from 2009-10 in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
Eckes outlasts Nemechek in Snowball Derby
Photo courtesy of Speed51.com Delayed two days due to weather, the 49th annual Snowball Derby was worth the wait for Christian Eckes. The 15-year-old added his name to the list of winners of the prestigious super late model race. The 300-lap event was scheduled for Sunday, but delayed until Monday due to rain and then again to Tuesday night. Eckes, who drives a late model for JR Motorsports -- although not in this event -- bested runner-up John Hunter Nemechek on the 5 Flags Speedway half-mile oval in Pensacola, Florida. Thrilled for @christianeckes and the Eurys on the #SnowballDerby win! The two Tonys know how to get it done. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) December 7, 2016 Eckes joins recent winners including Kyle Busch (2009), Chase Elliott (2011, 2015) and Erik Jones (2012, 2013). Nemechek himself won the event in 2014. Ty Majeski, a member of the NASCAR Next class and a development driver for Roush Fenway Racing , finished third. Others in the top 10 with NASCAR connections were Grant Enfinger (seventh) and Noah Gragson (ninth). MORE: Learn more about Majeski
In The King's Court: Petty welcomes Johnson
The King , Richard Petty, narrates an essay that looks back at how Jimmie Johnson earned his shot at history and the importance of seven championships in NASCAR.
Johnson: 'I will never be the King or the Intimidator'
Jimmie Johnson recaps a victorious season and acknowledges the great Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as he joins them with seven NSCS Championships.
Being a crew chief 'the next best thing' for Kendrick
RELATED: Complete schedule " See the series standings STATESVILLE, N.C. – There's a huge difference between going fast and racing. Chad Kendrick says he was very good at the former, but the latter took some time to figure out. Today, the split-second decisions he makes come from atop the pit box, where Kendrick is crew chief for driver Daniel Hemric and the No. 19 Ford of Brad Keselowski Racing in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. But there was a time at South Boston Speedway when the Late Models were hauling the mail around the 4/10th-mile oval … "It was the best race I was ever having," Kendrick, a native of Durham, North Carolina, said recently. "I was running fifth and Denny was leading. He spun or did something and had to go to the back." "Denny," of course, was Denny Hamlin , this year's Daytona 500 champion and winner of 27 NASCAR premier series races for Joe Gibbs Racing . "He drove right back through the field," Kendrick said. "I'm fourth now (after Hamlin went to the rear); he catches me and he's not wasting time; he just knocks me out of the way. I was so mad … my tongue's hanging out and I'm giving it everything I've got and this kid is just gone. And I can't catch him." Hamlin, Kendrick and a host of others cut their racing teeth on tracks such as South Boston, trying to race their way out of anonymity. South Boston and Langley and Orange County and Southern National have helped make stars and have just as likely crushed dreams. Hamlin might have had a better car on this particular day. But he might have had something else as well. "It kind of hit me then – 'Alright, I don’t have what they have,'" Kendrick said. "I can go run a good lap. But I can't run that lap 150 (times) in a row. I can't do some of the things they can do. "I would love to tell you if I'd had the money … but I don't think so. I maybe could have won a race here or there. But I don't have what Brad (Keselowski) has or Ryan (Blaney) or even Daniel -- I don't have what those guys have. I don't know what it is and I don't know where they get it from, but something's there that just clicks. They have it. This was the next best thing." RELATED: Sustainability goes from top to bottom with Penske, Keselowski Hamlin succeeded, eventually moving on from the small local venues to become a bona fide NASCAR star. Kendrick made his way out, too, but in a slightly different fashion. Kendrick is no anomaly. The NASCAR garage has its share of crew chiefs who raced and then, for one reason or another, eventually hung up their helmets. Crew chiefs Paul Wolfe (Keselowski) and Rodney Childers ( Kevin Harvick ) raced, as did Matt McCall ( Jamie McMurray ) and Greg Ives ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) There were other stops along the way for most, other tasks to complete and other lessons to be learned. Kendrick's move to the pit box began innocently enough –- Timothy Peters , one of his former rivals from back in the Late Model days – offered him his first crew chief position prior to 2008. The two had worked together previously at Bobby Hamilton Racing (BHR). "I probably learned 75 percent of everything I know about racing from Bobby," Kendrick said of the 2004 Truck Series champion. "He was really good … if you wanted to know, wanted to learn and grow, he was there for you. Very open and just an awesome guy. … "I loved working for him. I actually compare working here to working for Bobby." Other stops followed and their paths wouldn't cross again until Peters called one day with an offer. A partial deal would put Peters on the track and Kendrick on the pit box. "He said, 'By the way, you're going to be the crew chief, the only mechanic, the only guy …" Kendrick said of Peters' proposition. How difficult could that be? Kendrick was about to find out. The two made only a handful of starts in '08 and by the next season, the team added a second truck for a few races just to start and park and stay afloat financially. When NASCAR instituted a new pit procedure rule for the Truck Series in '09, things didn't get any easier. "That was the year that you did pit stops where you couldn't do fuel and tires at the same time," he said. "We never had enough people. I was the crew chief, I would jack on the tire stop, come back, throw the helmet and apron on, and fuel (the truck) during the fuel stop." The saving grace was a midseason call from Red Horse Racing owner Tom DeLoach, who wanted both Peters and Kendrick for his organization. The payoff came a few months later, in late October at Martinsville. Peters led 84 laps en route to his first series victory. It was Kendrick's first win as a crew chief, and remains his most memorable. "One, it was at Martinsville with Timothy," he said. "He and I had been through so much. … Going through all that and to get him his first win just meant a lot. "The win last year (at Bristol Motor Speedway ) with Blaney was the most exciting. It was the most dominant truck I've ever had and special in that as soon as we unloaded for practice, it was 'OK, we’re the truck to beat.' Blaney qualified on the outside of the front row and led the first 37 circuits at Bristol before a penalty for jumping the restart send him to the rear of the field. "Then he drives all the way back through the field and wins the race," Kendrick said. "That one was just really cool. You can be the best truck and you don't win because your crew had a bad stop or something breaks or somebody gets into you … anything. The smallest things can happen. … But Ryan got determined. So that one is up there." Kendrick's six wins have come with five different drivers – Peters, Blaney (2), John King , Parker Kligerman and Joey Logano . "I wanted to give Brad his first (Truck) win," Kendrick said, adding it was a "big battle" between he and fellow Brad Keselowski Racing crew chief Doug Randolph. But it was Randolph calling the shots when the team owner/driver made it to the winner’s circle, also at Bristol in 2014 "Just a couple of weeks ago, Brad gave Joey the truck we won with last year at Martinsville. I told Joey 'Don’t ever run another truck race,'" Kendrick said. "Because I'm probably not going to be known for much of anything, but at least I can tell my grandkids I gave Joey Logano his only truck win.' Doesn’t mean a lot, but …" RELATED: Inside the new Chase format for the series Now, he'll try to add Hemric to his list of winning drivers. Hemric, 25, is in his first season with the organization and sits seventh in points after three races. Teammate Tyler Reddick , 20, is a two-time race winner and driver of the team’s No. 29 with the veteran Randolph calling the shots. He's 16th in points. Next up for the series is the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway (Friday, May 6, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the first of a three-week swing that includes stops at Dover International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway . Kendrick said both drivers are ready to get back on the track. Expectations remain high. "At the front end of the year I would have told you we’d have a win by now," he said. "I really thought we would. We've had brand new trucks all three races. "I know we’ll win a race, both of our guys. I don't think stretch to say we'll win 2-3 in a row, between our teams."
Crown Hamlin as the king of Halloween
RELATED: More Inside Groove blog content It appears that part of Denny Hamlin 's in-race diatribe on Jimmie Johnson ... uh, is sort of true. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver blasted "Six-Time" on the scanner when trying to make a pass Sunday at Martinsville. ( You can listen to all of that here .) Among the choicest lines: "He thinks he's a (expletive) king ." Well, Jimmie, who won Sunday's race, was a king on Monday. In fact, his whole family was royalty in a Halloween photo. All of which led to the below jovial jab from Mr. Hamlin. The life of a father with daughters! #HappyHalloween pic.twitter.com/wpFUgVPmud — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) October 31, 2016 Yea I knew you wore a damn crown to bed. https://t.co/Ptz614qidN — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) November 1, 2016 Well done, Denny. But "Six-Time" was quick to fire back. Yea I knew you wore damn floppy ears to bed @dennyhamlin . pic.twitter.com/0X0Ks26HWY — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) November 1, 2016 Another classic. Call this one a draw?
Hot off Martinsville win, Johnson's Texas strategy fit for a king
Jimmie Johnson doesn't need to win this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway to advance to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship 4. But that doesn't mean the six-time premier series champion won't be among those favored when the AAA Texas 500 gets underway Sunday (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). Johnson's record of late at the 1.5-mile track has been amazing, with five victories in the last eight races. He's won more often at Martinsville, as often at Auto Club and has a better average finish at Phoenix. But it would be hard to argue with his Texas results. A big part of the reason for his success there, he said Wednesday, has to do with the aging of the track's surface. And, strangely enough, past experiences on dirt. "The last three or four years, the track's just been great to us," he said. "I feel like the older surfaces do that. When you think back to the old Charlotte, you look at our success at Atlanta, the old Darlington. Texas has moved into that category, the character in the track. "My dirt background, the way we set my race cars up, are just better on rough, low-grip race tracks." Johnson hasn't been on dirt in more than a dozen years, coming to NASCAR after competing in off-road desert and stadium trucks in various series. Initially, the driving styles between the two didn't transfer. "It hurt me for the longest damn time, it really did," he said. "Because being sideways was just part of the gig; I didn't realize how slow it really was in a stock car. "But there is a sweet spot where the car is leading with the back … largely because the fuel is hanging past the rear axle. So the longer we run, the more fuel we burn, the less the car turns. So you have to start the car looser to be good on the long runs. … it's a little uncomfortable but as the run goes on, it drives a lot better. "Once I figured out how to make my dirt background work for me, that's where it has come into play." A victory at Martinsville guaranteed his presence in this year's Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The other three drivers are TBD. Seven drivers, three spots and two races at Texas and Phoenix equals a lot of potential heartache. Johnson, 41, knows the feeling of being one of the odd drivers out -- this year marks his first trip to the title round under the elimination-style format. "Last year hurt pretty bad because we had a great start to those first two (Chase) races and then, looking at the way things unfolded with our win at Texas, we were like 'We could have been in the final four. We could have been there,'" he said. "So that one hurt for sure." There will be no lingering ill will between Johnson and Denny Hamlin heading into this weekend's race -- Johnson said the two "had a chat Monday" to iron out any differences. RELATED: Johnson, Hamlin explain hard racing at Martinsville The two were battling for position in the top 10 at Martinsville on Sunday when there was contact. Hamlin wasn't pleased with how hard Johnson was pressing at such an early juncture in the race. Johnson said he was only trying to keep from losing multiple positions. Johnson "thinks he's a (expletive) king ; he doesn't do anything wrong," Hamlin told his team on the radio before the contact. RELATED: Hear Hamlin's in-car audio from Martinsville "There's always two sides to every situation," Johnson said Wednesday. "I just didn't want to fall back to 14th again. I'm in the outside lane, digging along. … Evidently there was a gap behind Denny and a pretty big gap behind the 2 car (of Brad Keselowski ). So his frustration was 'Why are you racing me so hard at this point in time?'" Their differences have been put to rest, but that didn't stop either from having a little fun at the other's expense the following day. RELATED: Crown Hamlin as the king of Halloween Hamlin retweeted a photo of Johnson wearing a crown as part of a Halloween costume on Monday, saying "Yea, I knew you wore a damn crown to bed." Johnson soon followed with a shot of Hamlin dressed as a Dalmatian, tweeting " Yea I knew you wore damn floppy ears to bed." "Bad timing on my part," Johnson said of his own photograph, which included his wife, Chandra, and daughters, Lydia and Genevieve. "Hamlin was primed and ready to take advantage of it." </p>