Tag:Jimmie Johnson
Posted on: September 11, 2011 2:04 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 9:36 am
 

Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch feud boils over



By Pete Pistone

The rivalry between Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch boiled over Saturday night in Richmond with a pair of on track incidents and another war of words after the checkered flag flew. 

Busch began the fireworks when he slid into Johnson as the pair raced through turns three and four on lap 186. 

Johnson’s car slid into the outside wall and was heavily damaged, sending the five-time champion to the garage area for repairs. 

When he returned to the track several laps down he eventually hunted down Busch and turned him around racing out of turn one on lap 246 to settle the score. 

While Busch was able to recover and finish fifth, Johnson was left with a 31st finishing position and much anger toward the driver of the Penske Racing Dodge. 

“He has no one to be upset with except himself. If he didn’t run me over going into turn one, nothing would have happened,” Johnson said. 

“We were at Atlanta and raced just fine with one another, passed each other on the track and everything was great and I had passed him a couple of times tonight without any issues and then we go into Turn 1 and I get run over and it damages my car. So at that point, I’m going to equal the scale out and settle the score. Simple stuff: You wreck me, I wreck you.” 

Despite the two making contact on track at Pocono last month and then exchanging heated words afterward, Johnson thought things had calmed down between the duo. 

“I’ve worked very hard to not have any contact with him,” Johnson said. “And even the Pocono thing; I made a move to break draft. I didn’t touch his car; he instigated and ran over the side of me. So if he can stop running into my Lowe’s Chevrolet, everything would be just fine.” 

Busch gave his view of the situation after he climbed from his racecar Saturday night. 

“When he came back to us, you could see it coming,” Busch said. “That’s not something you see from Jimmie Johnson every day so I know we’re in his head. If we’re going to race this way, he’s got to worry that there’s ten other guys in this Chase, not just the 22.” 

But Busch’s anger raged further as the night went on when he first confronted a reporter asking about the incident on pit road and later lashed out again in the media center during his post race interview. 

“He’s got to learn to race,” Busch said angrily, denying he said anything about getting inside Johnson’s head and then tearing the post-race transcripts with those quotes in half when they were given to him by another reporter. “He’s been able to beat guys the last five years just by outdriving them with what he has for equipment. If he wants to switch equipment, lets see what we can do but I’m going to beat him fair and square with my Penske Dodge.” 

Johnson said he’d be willing to discuss the matter with Busch but was not confident about the outcome.

“I’m sure he’s going to have plenty of fine words to say to me when I do see him – he spun me and I had to turn him back around, that’s just how it goes,” Johnson said. “He’s always going to run his mouth.   

 
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Posted on: September 8, 2011 4:31 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 6:08 pm
 

Idle Thoughts: Clearing out before the Chase


By Pete Pistone

There’s one race to decide who will make this year’s Chase and what drivers will turn their thoughts to preparing for a 2012 run at the title.

But before we get to Richmond and the multitude of story lines and news that will inevitably break out this weekend, let’s clear the notebook and share some final thoughts on a few items of recent days:

  • I’ve watched the last lap fight between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson at Atlanta about a dozen times now and marvel with every viewing. It was one of the most classic NASCAR battles in recent years and should be a reminder of a few things. First is the fact that those who thought Jeff Gordon was washed up a couple of years ago must feel pretty silly these days. The talk about Gordon losing his edge, not being interested in racing after becoming a father and incapable of challenging for a fifth title should all be erased with the season he’s having this year. Then there’s Johnson, who if you wrote off as a serious title contender for number six in a row my apologies. He may have been a bit on the quiet side during most of the regular season, but Johnson has come to life as the Chase draws near and was driving the wheels off his car trying to rundown Gordon. And the final point of Tuesday’s finish was the respect both drivers had for one another while still racing as hard as possible. I understand we’re talking about Hendrick Motorsports teammates, but even so in this era of “Boys Have at It,” it was refreshing to see good old fashioned flat out racing for the win and not a motorized demolition derby filled with revenge and payback. Mother Nature’s wrath was a major inconvenience but at the end of the day we got one of the best races of the season.
  • It’s been a busy week for all of NASCAR thanks to the rain out and a Saturday night race planned for Richmond, but it was made even more hectic for a group of drivers who accepted an invitation to The White House on Wednesday. President Barack Obama recognized Johnson for his 2010 championship and with about half of last year’s Chase field present honored NASCAR while shining a very positive spotlight on the sport. The event was mired in controversy last week when several drivers bowed out of the ceremony citing scheduling conflicts but those who did attend on Wednesday represented NASCAR very well. My personal opinion is that when the Commander in Chief invites you to Washington, the invitation takes precedent over anything else on your calendar - whatever your politics may be or schedule looks like. Congratulations to those who were able to make it and the honor given to NASCAR on Wednesday. 
  • The announcement that Rockingham Speedway will once again host NASCAr racing next season in the form of a Camping World Truck Series race has received  overwhelmingly positive response from fans and competitors. The beloved track hosted Sprint Cup racing from 1975 until 2004 before low attendance for track officials to shift NASCAR’s top division out of “The Rock.” Andy Hillenburg took control of the facility in recent years and had turned it into a top notch testing facility as well as a home for regional and mid-level racing such as the ARCA Series, Pro Cup and UARA late models. Now with the installation of a SAFER Barrier system, a prerequisite for NASCAR to bring one of its top tier divisions to any track, Rockingham will host the trucks next April. It puts the ball squarely in the court of race fans that have clamored for Rockingham to return to the NASCAr scene and bemoaned its loss for the last seven years. Simply said, fans need to put their money and time where their mouths are on this one. Unless ticket sales are strong and the event supported, the event won’t make it or be on the schedule more than a couple of years. However if the stands are full and Hillenburg is able to make the trucks a success, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Nationwide Series find its way to Rockingham before too long.
  • It will be interesting to see if there’s a Kevin Harvick Inc. truck in the field when Rockingham rolls around next season. There’s a great deal of speculation that this week’s merger between KHI and Richard Childress Racing on their Nationwide Series programs will lead to a similar deal on the Camping World Truck side of the business. Economics and the tough business environment to attract and keep sponsors drove the KHI-RCR marriage, which will impact the Nationwide garage next year by eliminating one or possibly two entries. The same scenario could take place in the truck series with RCR fielding a pair of teams and KHI folding its resources into that initiative. 
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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: September 8, 2011 1:17 pm
 

Jimmie Johnson honored at White House

Posted by Pete Pistone

On Wednesday, September 7th, President Obama congratulated Jimmie Johnson on his fifth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship and welcomed other 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Jeff Burton to the White House. During his remarks, the President reflected that the last time many of the drivers were at the White House he was honoring Jimmie Johnson for his third straight championship:

"And that's why Jimmie is not just one of the best drivers of all time -- he's up there with some of the great sports dynasties. If you think about it, only the Boston Celtics, the Yankees and the Canadiens have ever won more than four titles in a row. And now Jimmie is breathing down the necks of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the most NASCAR titles ever, which is not bad for the son of a machine operator and a school bus driver who still has plenty of seasons ahead of him. Jimmie's talent has been to make a very difficult, demanding sport look easy. But this year, the Number 48 team also showed its toughness. They entered the last race of the Chase trailing, and ended up pulling off an extraordinary comeback."

The President also commended the contributions NASCAR has made to the country, particularly through the support of military families:

"Now, what also makes NASCAR special is the difference that it makes in the lives of so many people, especially our troops and their families. And I personally thanked all these guys for what they've been doing on behalf of military families, who are obviously huge fans of NASCAR. Last month, the drivers and staff toured Walter Reed hospital, served dinner to 400 wounded warriors and their loved ones. NASCAR has been a huge supporter of the Joining Forces program that Michelle and Dr. Jill Biden have set up to support military families. This morning, Jimmie made a special visit to the Pentagon to spend time with folks over there. And later this week, NASCAR will be honoring our military and first responders again in Richmond the night before the anniversary of 9/11. So I want to congratulate Jimmie. I want to congratulate all the drivers who are on the stage for their extraordinary success, for the success of NASCAR, and for everything that they do for our country."

 
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Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:56 pm
 

Chase clinch scenarios for Richmond


With only one race remaining until the 12-driver lineup for Chase is set, nine drivers have clinched their bids -- Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski.

Here are the clinch scenarios for the final three Chase spots.
             
Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt is currently 25 points ahead of 11th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, Earnhardt will clinch if he finishes:
-- 20th or better
-- 21st or better and leads at least one lap
-- 22nd or better and leads the most laps
 
Tony Stewart
Stewart is currently 23 points ahead of 11th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, Stewart will clinch if he finishes:
-- 18th or better
-- 19th or better and leads at least one lap
-- 20th or better and leads the most laps
 
A number of different finishes affect the wild card:
 
Denny Hamlin

-- With a victory, Hamlin will earn at least a wild card spot. He can still mathematically finish top 10 in points.

Paul Menard

-- With a victory, Menard would earn a wild card spot.

Marcos Ambrose and David Ragan

-- With a victory AND entry into the top 20, Ambrose or Ragan would earn a wild-card spot. Both drivers are currently outside the top 20. Ambrose is seven points outside the top 20; Ragan is 20 points outside the top 20.
 
All drivers through 23rd place in the series standings remain eligible for a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Aside from the scenarios listed above, those without an already-clinched Chase spot need a win, a top 20 spot and various finishes from other drivers to earn a Chase spot.

Source: NASCAR

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Posted on: September 6, 2011 6:00 pm
 

Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart post Atlanta

Posted by Pete Pistone

Jimmie, we'll start with you.  Talk a little bit about the race today.  You took over the points lead.  You're leading by 21 points over Kyle Busch.  Could you talk about your run out there.          

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  We're just having a terrible lead out there.  Glad to be leading in the points.  Haha, nobody? All of our regulars are gone already.  (Laughter) there's a laughter.  Perfect.           

We had a great day today.  The first two runs the car was pretty bad.  And Chad made some great adjustments on pit road to get the car in the track to where I could carry any speed in and through the center and then use the throttle off.  Before that I was on ice and couldn't drive the car.           

At that point we worked our way through traffic, which was very difficult to do and raced the top four, top six off and on.  Had the lead a little bit.  And at the end Jeff caught me and passed me at the run before and I felt I ran the tires off the car.           

So I took my time and knew we had a 38-lap run or something like that, Chad mentioned to me once we got rolling after that last caution.  And I just felt like I should take care of my stuff until the end.  And sure enough I started catching them.           

But I just didn't have enough to get by.  I got inside of him a couple times.  Got to the outside once.  And just didn't have enough regroup to kind of get there and stay there.  And the time I got to be outside of him, I felt I was going to be in good shape.  But I think we had a lap car get in the way there and use me as a pick a little bit, couldn't complete the pass.           

Awesome day.  Happy to see a Hendrick car in Victory Lane and a great day for the Lowe's team.          

THE MODERATOR:  Tony, finishing third.  Could you talk about Atlanta and going into Richmond in a few days.           

TONY STEWART:  Really happy.  I will say this:  If Ed Clark decides to repave this racetrack, I'll personally shoot him myself.           

This place is so racy, so much fun.  Like Jimmie said, you could -- here more so than anywhere we go to, you actually have to take care of your tires and budget them for your run.  And that's what makes it fun here because guys overdrive run their cars, run too hard on the front and then they fall off the last half.           

But, man, we had an awesome car at the end, especially, gaining eight and a half seconds on the leader there was definitely an awesome run.  And we had a lot of guys we got back in those last ten laps.           

So helped us out going into next week, obviously.  And like Jimmie said, just I'm really proud of everybody at Stewart Haas Racing for their dedication.  They keep persevering and pushing it to make it better each week.  It's been a tough last couple of months.  But I appreciate everybody in our shop, the road crews.  And Ryan making The Chase, getting locked in today, and just all of our partners and sponsors.                       

Q.  Tony, is it better that you kind of gain points and maybe solidified more your position as far as The Chase goes, or the fact that you ran well and maybe things look a little brighter as far as The Chase goes in a couple of weeks?           

TONY STEWART:  I would say probably the first more so than the second.  I mean, once we leave here, what we get here doesn't mean anything next week as far as performance.  But those points are big going into next week for sure.           

So I wish what we did here transferred over to Richmond next week, but it doesn't.  But I'm really proud of the effort that everybody gave this week.  And I don't know whether we're 23 or 24 points ahead of the 2 car now.  But we definitely gained a couple on him today.  And it may come down to one point.           

So having the strong finish that we had may be the difference of making it or not making it next week.             

Q.  Jimmie, you joked about you've done terrible this year.  But does this have any feel like last year, last year all the talk was about Benny, and this year maybe there's not as much talk about you.  Again, you have to feel good, I assume, about where you are right now?           

JIMMIE JOHNSON:   Yeah, I do.  And truthfully, from a driver's perspective, a team's perspective, we're involved with our -- our viewpoint is just the reality inside of our race team.  And very little outside discussion or talk influences what's going on in our minds.           

I mean, we know the reality of our race team and if we're a contender or not.  And I feel we're building in that direction and we're getting stronger each week.  We still have weak points.  We still are not qualifying like we need to.           

And at some point in the race we seem to have the car pretty far off.  But the good side of that is Chad and Greg find a way to fix it.           

They did today within two pit stops.  Got the car -- I was going to go a lap down, the first car in front of the 24 going a lap down and drove away from them.  I was able to race my way back up there and actually fight them for the win.  So there is a lot of, in the reality inside, is we know we've got a very good chance of winning the championship.           

It comes along -- that's what I was trying to get you guys to laugh a little bit about, the bad year and all that --  as time goes on and I have more experience and go through this more, certainly having more fun along the way, too.             

Q.  Jimmie, it seemed pretty clear the last several years that you've been more willing and able to drive a loose race car than Jeff has.  How long has it been since you've seen him win when his car was that loose, and did it kind of surprise you that he was so willing and able and that you actually lost a battle of sideways to Jeff?           

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I hadn't put a ton of thought into it.  His car didn't look -- I mean, every car around here, and I know what the setup was, and it was much tighter than mine.  But through it all, I mean to race that hard for a win is what we all wake up and are excited to do each and every time we get in a race car.           

I wish I could have won, but I have a lot of satisfaction in racing my friend and teammate.  And it's Jeff Gordon that hard for a win.           

May not have had the dominance that we'd seen before in recent years, but it's still Jeff Gordon.  And it's so cool to race that hard with him.  And even if I did come in second, it's okay.  I'd much rather have won.  But we left it all out there on the track.  And he got it done today.            

Q.  Jimmie, was the rain going on on Sunday, how was the grip at the beginning of the race?  Was the speedway very green or --           

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah the track was definitely green.  And I know the way that we anticipated the track to start was far different than the reality.        

We worked on our cars and submitted them for inspection on Sunday and obviously didn't have a chance to work on them coming in today's race.  And the balance and grip level changed dramatically on the track.           

It would take our car, after the delay, everybody picking up rubber, especially the start of the race, it took a couple of runs for our car's balance to get close to where we set the vehicle up to be and what we expected.        

So it was a different racetrack today and the temperatures being low put a lot of grip in the racetrack.

 
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Posted on: September 2, 2011 1:11 pm
 

Drivers decline White House invitation

By Pete Pistone

A group of NASCAR drivers including five-time champion Jimmie Johnson have been invited to attend a reception at the White House with President Barack Obama next week. Johnson in addition to NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France as well as Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth were extended the invitation for the visit on Wednesday, September 7th.

However five drivers have declined to make the trip - Biffle, Kurt Busch, Edwards, Harvick and Stewart - all citing "scheduling conflicts" according to a press release.

 
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Posted on: August 23, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 4:07 pm
 

Idle Thoughts: Jimmie Johnson not worried - yet

By Pete Pistone

  Kyle Busch, Driver Of The #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, Leads Jimmie Johnson, Driver Of The #48 Lowe's Chevrolet,
(Was Sunday's race at Michigan a preview of the championship battle?)

As the Sprint Cup Series season churns toward the end of summer and this year’s ramp up to the Chase its pretty much business as usual for Jimmie Johnson. 

At least for now. 

While many point to Johnson having only one win with 23 races in the book as a reason to believe the bloom is off the perennial champion’s rose, in reality there’s not much different about this year’s version of JJ than past seasons. 

Win total aside, Johnson’s uncanny knack for finishing in the front of the field week in and week remains intact. 

Sure there have been some off days and even an engine failure at Charlotte in May. But Johnson has finished in the top 10 15 times in the opening 23 events of the season, not exactly the sign of a driver on a downward spiral. 

He’s second in the point standings only 10 behind Kyle Busch, a stat that in reality is virtually hollow since it matters not who is on top of the leader board after the regular season but rather how many wins a driver has to grab a higher seeding in the Chase. 

That’s where Johnson finds himself playing catch up to the tune of being three trips to victory lane behind Kyle Busch.  

However once the playoffs start in mid-September, even if he can’t find a way to close the gap to Busch in the bonus points race in the next three races, it’s foolish to count Johnson out as the title favorite. 

Even if he continues to downplay that assessment. 

“I'm very interested to see how this Chase is going to go,” he said after finishing second to Busch Sunday in Michigan.  “I think it's the hardest one to predict.  It's going to be a close one.  I don't know who to make the favorite.  We'll just have to see how everybody responds to pressure when it really kicks up.” 

Right now the pressure is off Busch as he can more or less coast into the playoffs. But there’s a different feeling about his chances to legitimately challenge for the crown this year and be the driver to finally rise up to take the crown from Johnson. 

Busch thinks just doing what’s worked so far in the regular season is the only formula he needs to follow in order to have a shot at the title.  

“For us the biggest thing is to try to concentrate on what we've been doing all year,” he said.  “Certainly there are going to be times where guys are better than us and we can't concentrate on that too hard.  It's a cycle of 10 weeks.  If you're consistent through there and you can do all the right things that you know how to do, then you'll be fine.”        

Some point to a more mature Busch as one of those factors and Johnson agrees that the aging process can make a difference in a driver’s make-up. 

“He's got a lot of talent,” Johnson said.  “When I think about his age, I didn't come into the sport till I was 25, 26 was my rookie year.  At the time I thought that opportunity had passed me by and I wasn't sure I was ever going to get a shot.  But looking back, I'm very thankful getting my late start.  It helped me mature in a lot of ways.  I made my mistakes more on the lower levels instead of in the spotlight with the pressure of the Cup Series. 

“He's getting into that in his mid 20s now.  So he's getting into his sweet spot, I think.”  

But more important than just time passed on a calendar, Johnson sees the ability to win as the most important aspect of why Busch will be a formidable foe this season. 

“I said this about him a while ago:  Once he figured out how to win races, he'd win a lot,” Johnson said.  “He certainly has done that.  His big test is for a championship.  Once he understands that and figures that out, I think he'll win a lot of those, too.” 

Many believe this will be that year.            

 
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Posted on: August 21, 2011 5:57 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 6:27 am
 

Speed Read: Michigan

By Pete Pistone

Pure Michigan 400 Race Recap

COMPLETE RESULTS 

 

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kyle Busch made a statement Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, whether he’ll admit it or not. 

By running down Jimmie Johnson and then keeping him at bay to win Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, Busch demonstrated the strongest example yet as to why he can seriously contend for this year’s Sprint Cup title and knock Johnson off his five-year perch. 

The win was Busch’s first at Michigan and the 23rd of his Sprint Cup career, ironically tying him with big brother Kurt on the all-time victory list.

But more importantly it locked Busch into a Chase spot with a series-leading fourth win of the season and has the Joe Gibbs Racing driver on a solid run as the playoffs near. 

“It’s awesome, it’s what we wanted,” said Busch. “We wanted to make sure we could come out here and win races and have the opportunity to go for broke.” 

That’s exactly what Busch will do for the next three races leading up to the Chase and certainly once the championship run begins in mid-September. 

“We’ve thought all along we were going to be title contenders this season with Kyle and this 18 team,” said JGR president J.D. Gibbs. “You have to get there first of all to challenge for it and we’re in pretty good shape after today on that front. I don’t expect anything to change for this team once the Chase starts and see Kyle as someone that has a legitimate chance to win the title.” 

Johnson isn’t backing down from his quest for an unprecedented sixth straight crown but also believes Busch will be a formidable challenger.

“I've worked with Kyle as a teammate in the past,” Johnson said of his time with Busch at Hendrick Motorsports.  “I understand his passion for racing.  I certainly know that he's not afraid to stand on the gas and can really drive the car to its potential week in and week out.

“I said this about him a while ago:  Once he figured out how to win races, he'd win a lot.  He certainly has done that.  His big test is for a championship.  Once he understands that and figures that out, I think he'll win a lot of those, too.” 

Johnson of course wouldn’t mind waiting a while for that to happen. Busch on the other hand is ready.

“You know, we're 13 weeks from me being able to answer your question,” Busch answered when asked if he’s a championship caliber driver.  “Certainly I'd like to give ourselves a lot of credit that we can do that, that we have the ability to do that. “

It sure looked that way Sunday in Michigan.

      

RISERS 

Brad Keselowski 

There’s no slowing down Keselowski these days who continues his incredible summer performance and notched a third place finish at his home track on Sunday. Keselowski retained his hold on one of the Chase Wild card spots but is on a climb that might find him in the Top 10 of the standings before all is said and done.

Kasey Kahne 

Team Red Bull has a Michigan victory to its credit but with the outlook for its future looking bleak Kahne’s seventh place finish was a nice pick me up. Kahne had his car in the lead at one point and continues to demonstrate occasional flashes that showcase the team for potential investors to keep it afloat in 2012. 

Tony Stewart  

The way things have gone of late for Stewart he’ll surely take the ninth place finish Sunday that kept him in the Top 10 of the standings and in the Chase hunt. With his teammate Ryan Newman coming home fifth overall it was a good day for Stewart-Haas Racing but the boss is still looking to break through to victory lane before Richmond to help his Chase cause.

 

FALLERS  

Denny Hamlin   

Not a very good day for Hamlin in the aftermath of his wild ride and wreck Monday at Watkins Glen. The TRD engine change didn’t bring the results Hamlin and crew chief Mike Ford had hoped for but the problems of the 11 car Sunday weren’t motor-related. A trip into the wall punctuated the rough outing, which ended in a 35th place finish. 

Kurt Busch   

While his Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski continues his ascension, Busch and the Shell/Pennzoil team seem to be snake bitten. A 34th place finish included damage from a battle with the wall and as expected a very unhappy driver behind the wheel. 

Carl Edwards 

Things haven’t been very pleasant for Edwards since he signed his contract extension with Roush Fenway Racing. An engine problem took him from contention early on Sunday and he limped around to a disappointing 36th place finish that punctuated a particularly frustrating day for the entire Ford camp.

 

RADIO WAVES 

(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)   

"Finally, finally, finally, something went right.'' – Crew chief Chad Knaus when caution came out while Jimmie Johnson was pitting, effectively giving him the lead 

“Not sure. I have a feeling we got a bum set of tires and got off on our adjustments." – Pole sitter Greg Biffle after fading to a 20th place finish. 

"I'm (**@#(@) crashing. You've got the lefts on the rights or something.'' – An unhappy Dale Earnhardt Jr. after a tire change on pit road. 

“We wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of making the Chase if not for the Wild Card.” – Denny Hamlin

  

RACE RATING    

On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 a three. Yes, fuel mileage was a factor but the race didn’t end with calculators burning out batteries on pit road but rather two drivers battling it out on the racetrack. There was a good deal of side-by-side racing all around the track throughout the 400-mile affair and the Busch-Johnson duel in the closing stages provided its share of excitement. Now we’ll see how much Michigan changes after the track undergoes a massive facelift that will see both a repaving and reconfiguration next season.

 

DOWN THE ROAD

It’s the annual summer trip to “Thunder Valley” and Saturday night’s return to Bristol Motor Speedway. The week leading up to the race will be filled with discussions about the old vs. new Bristol but there’s no denying the half-mile Tennessee track remains one of the sport’s most popular destinations and the August race under the lights is a highlight of the Sprint Cup calendar.

 
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com