Posted on: August 16, 2011 11:21 am
Posted by Pete Pistone
Denny Hamlin's hard crash Monday at Watkins Glen reminded many of this 2000 Jimmie Johnson accident that took place during the Nationwide Series race at the road course:
Posted on: August 13, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: August 13, 2011 10:40 am
By Pete Pistone
Day two of the Jimmie Johnson-Kurt Busch war of words at Watkins Glen raged on early Saturday morning. After Johnson criticized Busch during his media availability on Friday morning it was the Penske Racing driver's turn to respond.
“I felt the way we raced each other on the track was what champions need to do and that is bring the cars home where they were running on track," said Busch. "Where we raced each other with a juke and jive and rubbing, that’s racing. I talked to my dad about things and my dad is like: “That’s rubbing. That’s racing son. That’s how it works.’ He was one that taught me a lot about racing and everything that I’ve done in racing is to make him proud. He said rubbing is racing. I’m putting the “R” back in racing.’’
Johnson didn't quite see it the way Busch did and went to share his feelings on pit road after the checkered flag had flown. Busch says he understood Johnson's emotions if not his point of view.
"He was real amped up, and he felt like I did him wrong," Busch said. "To me, the response from people this week and our different race fans, they're like, 'That was exciting. That's what we want to see. That's the intensity and the passion our sport is built off of.'
"This is a bunch of guys racing stock cars in the southeast. This isn't open-wheel racing where we're supposed to pass each other clean and be out front and leading by 10 seconds."
“That’s not a move of a five-time champion,’’ Busch said. “That’s the move of a guy that has had an issue with a guy like me. We've raced each other hard and I've been spun out and wrecked a few times and we both know that we look at each other very sternly. That’s great competition. That blends into rubbing is racing. When you have a history with a guy you just don’t forget about it. I learned from one of the greats about how to keep a memory on how who does you right or who does you wrong and that was Jimmy Spencer. He taught me a lot."
Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2011 10:46 am
By Pete Pistone
Nearly a week has passed between last week's Jimmie Johnson-Kurt Busch tangle at Pocono but the time hasn't quieted the feud between the two drivers.
The five-time champion gave his opinion on why the on-track incident between the two on Pocono's last lap was one thing but what took place afterward on pit road was what really angered him.
"I'm not sure if any have had words with someone before, but when you're in that moment and you're having words with someone and as the crowd starts to build around, that guy all of the sudden gets brave and when you think it's over and you walk away and that guy gets real tough? I don't know about you, but that really makes me mad," Johnson said to the assembled media.
"Bottom line, he just started running his mouth. If you look at over the years and what his mouth has done for him: It got my biggest fan, Jimmy Spencer, to punch him in the face; it's led to issues with the NASCAR officials on pit road; I think we all tune in weekly and wonder what he's going to say to his crew guys; you look at what he said to Roger Penske, his car owner.
"So that aspect is the part that really got me mad. And at the end of the day, I'm not going to let him run his mouth at me. It's just kind of how it is."
Not only will the duo compete against each other in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at The Glen, they're both entered in Saturday's Nationwide Series event as well. Johnson will drive for JR Motorsports while Busch subs for Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski in the team's Dodge Challenger.
"My first option is not to tear up race cars," he said. "I have too much respect for the guys working on my race cars and too much respect for Roger Penske and his organization to take it out there. That's not my goal, that's not my objective.
"I made zero contact with Kurt at Pocono. Once he hit me, then I leaned on him back. When I went to break the draft, I never touched him. Then he instigated the contact. That's not my goal."
Posted on: August 7, 2011 8:03 pm
Posted by Pete Pistone
Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch were involved in a heated battle both on the track and after Sunday's Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono Raceway. The five-time champion had these thoughts regarding the incident with Busch:
TELL US ABOUT THOSE CLOSING LAPS WITH KURT BUSCH. IT WAS QUITE A FIGHT.
“It was a good battle; man, I worked hard to get by him. I got to the outside of him off of (Turn) 2 and I don’t know, he ran over the side of me off of (Turn) 2, which I didn’t really understand as I took a lot of patience and gave him a lot of courtesy throughout the course of the day running him down. I could have run into him. I could have moved him a lot of different ways to get that position, but I didn’t, you know? I went down there and passed him, and off of (Turn) 2; he ran me up into the wall, or tried to. And I held my ground so I wouldn’t get smashed in the fence.”
THOSE CLOSING LAPS GOT REALLY CRAZY. IT SEEMED LIKE YOU WERE RIGHT THERE FOR A MINUTE, AND THEN IT SEEMED LIKE THE NO. 2 AND THE NO. 18 GOT AWAY AND IT WAS YOU AND KURT BUSCH GOING AT IT HOT AND HEAVY
“Well, track position is everything. I have no problem racing hard. And we raced really hard all day long. I just don’t understand why, when I finally get position on him, he’s got to run all over the side of me down the straightaway. It was a great race. The thing is here, track position is everything. And every driver is at 10/10ths, trying to get what they can, when they can, because you can’t pass. And it took me that entire fuel run to set-up that pass on him and I finally got it done and then that problem happens. So that’s where my frustration comes in.”
HOW ABOUT THE CONVERSATION THERE WITH KURT AND WHAT WAS THE MESSAGE YOU WERE TRYING TO DELIVER?
"It was more like a lot of yelling. Man I worked him over for 10 or 15 laps and had the opportunity to screw him up and had the opportunity to run into him and never did it. Then off of (turn) two he claims I turned down on him off of (turn) two and I don't have clue. He ran over me on the corner exit and that's where it all started."
THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF THE RACE AS YOU STALKED HIM DID YOU FEEL LIKE NOW IN HINDSIGHT MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE HANDLED IT DIFFERENTLY?
"No, I'm not going to run people over to pass them. That's just not me. I worked on him for however many laps trying to get by him clean, fair and square and as I got next to him we had that issue off of (turn) two. I just keep filing things away. I'll remember this stuff. There's a couple of other guys out there that have been pushing their luck too."
Posted on: August 2, 2011 2:33 pm
Posted by Brian De Los Santos
Five-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will make his first appearance in the Nationwide Series since 2008, when he climbs into JR Motorsports' No. 7 car at Watkins Glen on Aug. 13.
Johnson competed full-time in the Nationwide Series in 2000 and 2001, but has made just 18 starts in the series since. He has one career win in the series (Chicagoland, 2001).
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 2, 2011) – If Jimmie Johnson will race anything with an engine, driving one that could carry him to victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen International is a no-brainer. JR Motorsports announced today that Johnson will pilot the No. 7 Chevrolet in the Aug. 13 road-course event at Watkins Glen in promotion of his soon-to-be-launched video game Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine. Published by Autumn Games and developed by Isopod Labs, Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine is scheduled for an October 2011 release on all three major home consoles.
Posted on: August 1, 2011 11:40 am
Posted by Pete Pistone
Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, David Ragan and Landon Cassill decided to try going four-wide at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Sunday's Brickyard 400 with less than stellar results:
Posted on: July 29, 2011 3:34 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 3:42 pm
By Pete Pistone
INDIANAPOLIS - Jimmie Johnson discussed his current feud with Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Burton addressed his disappointing season and this week's crew chief change and Denny Hamlin explained how to be competitive in the regular season while having enough left in the tank to start the Chase when the trio of drivers met the media Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
You seemed pretty upset at Montoya after New Hampshire. Are you still upset?
Definitely upset. What it really boils down to, I don't feel at least two of the three things that have happened are intentional, they were racing instances. But there's a point where you've got to respect the people you're racing around and also respect a driver that you may have had some run-ins with.
Juan and I have a friendship, we get along great. After three times of me getting turned around, hearing apologies, I'm tired of hearing apologies. I don't want the contact, I don't want to be raced that way. We can do it for different parts of the race, but towards the end of an event I find myself spun around. I've certainly had my fair share. It certainly can't happen again.
Is this something you have to settle on the track?
He and I have always talked about things in the past. I have not heard from him since New Hampshire. It's not like he drove in there and ran me over. There's a flow at Loudon and how you drive that put me in a bad position and got me turned around. I'm sure we'll talk about it. We always do. I was in my motorhome. At Darlington when he spun me out there, then I'm in my motorhome showering. He walked into my bus, into my shower, to apologize. Then he told me I'm naked. Of course I am, I'm in the shower. There's some times where you can understand. But after three times being turned around, hearing 'I'm sorry,' it can't happen.
“It’s coming to a head like whether we’re going to approve the debt ceiling or not. At some point he’s going to have to say, “I’m not coming back’’ and he’s not going to be able to wait until Homestead, we all know that. So, Carl’s a big boy, he has to make his own decisions. Eventually, he’s going to have to make a decision. It will be best for both companies or for everybody, so, one, we can plan for sponsorship and driver and teams and people. There’s a lot of people’s jobs on the line, if we’re going to be three teams or four teams. The sooner the better. I understand contract negotiations take a long time and there’s a lot to them but, truly, if you know or you’ve made a decision, then it’s time to give everybody an opportunity to make their decision on the back side of that.’’
Talk about Todd Berrier being replaced as crew chief and your season so far.
“Todd is a really smart guy and very talented and he’s been a part of RCR for a long time,” Burton said of his former crew chief. “The problem we’re in isn’t a one-person problem. Todd brings a tremendous amount to the table, a tremendous amount of good, but at the end of the day, the success just isn’t here.
“We just can’t continue on down the road we were on. It just wasn’t working. But it’s not singly Todd’s fault by any means. Certainly he had some blame in it and so do I and so does everybody on the team but by no means do I think this is 100 percent Todd Berrier’s fault.”
Is it hard to fight to get into the Chase and then go on to perform well in the Chase?
“It’s hard to do. I think we’ve seen it with a lot of guys that limp into the Chase. It’s tough for them to really be challengers in the Chase because you do put so much effort -- you change your car schedule around and things like that trying to bring all of your best stuff to the race track in the weeks leading into the Chase where you’re trying to solidify your spot. I know that’s at least how we did it in 2008, I think when we were kind of on the bubble. It makes it tough to contend when you have to put all of your effort in the races leading up to the Chase.
Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:28 pm
Posted by Brian De Los Santos
Earlier this week, when Golden Tate saw that Jimmie Johnson was up for Male Athlete of the Year at the ESPYs, Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate tweeted out:
"Jimmy johnson up for best athlete???? Um nooo .. Driving a car does not show athleticism"
"I've driven a car on unknown roads at night at 90mph no big deal. No sign of athletism"
"Guarantee he couldn't in million year play any SPORT"
"give me 6 months of training and I bet I could compete"
That put NASCAR nation into action to defend it sport and drivers, which eventually led Tate to tweet:
"I will say my respect for NASCAR has gone up tremendously yalls fans r hard nose and passionate #respect!"
Hence the line of questiong that ensued Friday during Johnson's media session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
HALFWAY THROUGH THE SEASON, TALK ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING INTO THE SECOND HALF
“Some race weekends we leave kind of down and knowing that we need some speed and some areas to work in; and then other weeks, things go really well for us. Kentucky last weekend was a strong race, a strong 1.5-mile for us. I think the Thursday test session allowed us to work through some issues and try some new stuff and get some data and some ideas and things to work on. We’re excited for our 1.5-mile program. We were very competitive all night long in Kentucky. I know that coming to a mile flat-track, we’ve had some things that we feel would work here and we’re excited to get on track today and hopefully have a very fast race car. We’re doing well. We feel like we should be sitting here with three or four wins. We had some opportunities early and mistakes made team-wide that prevented that from happening.
“I felt like last weekend the chance to race for the win, that’s something that we need to do before we realistically should expect to win. So it was nice to run in the top three, top-five all night long; put the pressure on the pit stops and put the pressure on myself in the car, and Chad (Knaus, crew chief) on calling the race, and try to be in that moment, especially as we get closer to the Chase. As I’ve said every year, the pressure that is put on a team and a driver during the Chase is unlike anything else. So the more opportunities we have to race for wins and to be in that moment, the stronger we’ll be when the Chase comes around.”
WHO WERE SOME OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE ATHLETES YOU MET AT THE ESPYS BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY YOU’RE NOT AN ATHLETE YOURSELF, APPARENTLY (LAUGHTER)
“Yes, correct (a lot of laughter). I was impersonating an athlete at the ESPYS. Really when you see how tall basketball players are and then how big the football players are; I saw Dirk (Nowitzki, names best male athlete); and Kristine (Curley, his PR person) reminded me that he came to a race a few years back and she has a great photo trying to reach up and put the headset on him. And I saw him and went to introduce myself to him and didn’t think he’d remember me and with his accent and his excitement he was like, ‘I was at your race, do you remember?’ (laughter at Jimmie’s accent). I don’t know if the accent is even close; I just feel like I was trying to sound like (Arnold) Schwarzenegger for some reason (laughter). But it was so funny to see him in that moment and the excitement he had to say hello. Just the event in general, was really cool on that front. I went in ’06, or somewhere in there, and I was shocked then that people throughout sports knew of NASCAR. And then to go back this year and see the reception and interaction sports-wide was amazing. But some big dudes play in other sports. And Ray Allen, when you see him on the court next to Kevin Garnet and Paul Pierce, he kind of looked small next to those guys. I walked up to him and I’m like hey man, what’s up? He’s just a big guy. So, that overall impression was pretty amazing.”
SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GOING TO THOSE AWARDS, DO YOU THINK NASCAR HAS GAINED MORE CREDIBILITY?
“Yeah, without a doubt. Just from the applause when I was introduced for the red carpet, the interaction with all the media outlets; I heard that (Jay) Leno put us on and another guy on the carpet as well. Across the board, throughout media and the athletes themselves and the executives that were there, the people at ESPN, there is no doubt that NASCAR is well-known and well received throughout sports.”
RECENTLY THERE WAS AN ARTICLE ABOUT ATHLETES WHO ‘TWEET’. HAVE YOU EVER REGRETTED ANY OF YOUR TWEETS?
“Not necessarily what was in the Tweet, but one, I can’t spell worth a damn; and two, I don’t proof-read often enough. And there have been plenty of responses back. I guess the most recent one, whoever the guy that plays for the Seattle Seahawks, I spelled his name wrong. But fortunately the fans got involved and took out the extra ‘e’ that I put in and made sure that it made it to his phone, I guess.”
WHEN FANS SEE YOU AT THAT EVENT, THEY ARE GLAD THERE IS NASCAR REPRESENTATION THERE. WHEN YOU READ A TWEET FROM GOLDEN TATE, THE SEAHAWKS, DOES THAT OFFEND YOU IN A WAY? DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT WILL EVER CHANGE OR YOU CAN CHANGE IT? WHEN YOU SEE YOUR PHOTO UP ON THE BIG SCREEN, THE IMAGE WITH THE OTHER ATHLETES, DO YOU THINK YOU CAN EVER CHANGE THAT? DID THE TWEET KIND OF MAKE YOU MAD?
“I think as a race car driver that is something we have fought all along. So it wasn’t anything new. I didn’t take great offense to it. I took great pride in watching our sport and all the motorsports fans out there express themselves and share their thoughts. That was really cool. And it’s something we have fought for a long time.
“If you go back to Bill France and his vision, and the only reason I bring this up is because when I won the AP Male Athlete of the Year, I got a letter from Jim France; a handwritten letter telling me how important it was to his father and to his grandfather that drivers would be considered as athletes someday. So it’s been around for a long time and I feel that through the success I’ve had and some of the opportunities I’ve had, and also some of the awards I’ve won, that we’ve helped dispel that. It didn’t bother me. I took great pride in seeing our NASCAR Nation kind of put him in place. And as you watched his timeline, he quickly has changed his song and dance and is now saying he respects the NASCAR group. So, good job everyone.”
WHY DO YOU THINK THIS TOPIC KEEPS COMING UP? WHAT DO THINK THE PERCEPTION IS OF DRIVING AS A SPORT IS AMONG GREATER ATHLETES, NOT THE SELECT FEW THAT TWEET?
“I think it’s easy to make a comment when you don’t know. In a lot of situations, people haven’t been to a race or been close enough to our sport to understand what takes place here. There is also a misconception of what a race shop looks like. When you take folks into Hendrick Motorsports and they thought we were working out behind a gas station working on our race cars.
“So, there is just an education process that has to take place across a lot of mediums. Through sports, I’m excited to see top athletes come in and see what we do and also go for rides in cars and be around. And when they do, they are our best advocates. They are out there telling the story. I think most recently it was Mark Sanchez (New York Jets). He is all about racing. And with some of the free time he’s had lately, he’s been racing. Like he has the bug and enjoys it and it all came from a sponsorship opportunity where he drove a car and rode in a car I think at Charlotte Motor Speedway. And then he came back for the All-Star Race, and then went to Pocono (laughs). He’s just been going and going. So those athletes really help with credibility for our sport. And we’ve known it all along and have been saying it, but when other athletes mention it, we get the credit we deserve.”
DID YOU KNOW WHO GOLDEN TATE IS? WOULD YOU KNOW HIM IF HE WAS SITTING NEXT TO YOU, AND IF HE WAS SITTING NEXT TO YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU DO OR SAY TO HIM?
“No, I wouldn’t know who he is. I didn’t prior to the whole Twitter thing that took place. But I’d just like to show him around and see if we can show him what our sport is about and change his mind. There might be other athletes out there who think the same and they’re all welcome to come out. We’d all love to host them and show them around. I have no hard feelings. Everybody has an opinion. I don’t like it when people express their opinion without knowing. So if he comes and finds that we’re not athletes and has a different opinion if he was to attend a race, that’s fine. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP LOOKS LIKE IT’S WINDING DOWN TO A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE. WE’RE LOOKING AT THE WEAKNESSES ALL YOU GUYS HAVE. KYLE BUSCH IS THE GUY WE’RE ALL LOOKING AT. HE’S BEEN A GREAT DRIVER FOR SO MANY YEARS, BUT HE HAS SOME KIND OF FATAL FLAW WHEN IT COMES TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE. CAN YOU SENSE ANY CHANGE AND THAT HE IS FINALLY A CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER DRIVER?
“He’s always been, in my opinion. And weird things out of his own doing, or just back luck or whatever, have come into play in the Chase. I still at this point, do not see a clear favorite. Kyle won last week so he’s probably at the top of the mind for a lot of people. He’s moved up in the points and has had some good races, but I still haven’t seen a dominant car or driver out there this year. I still believe it’s anyone’s championship. And then it’s still a couple of months away; seven races away or whatever it is, and a lot can change between now and then, good and bad, for all the teams. I think it’s going to be a very difficult Chase to predict.”