Jimmie Johnson: Hendrick better off without chassis/engine alliances such as Stewart-Haas

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Jimmie Johnson believes it would benefit Hendrick Motorsports to be selfish when it comes to sharing equipment and data with other teams.

Johnson shared the belief while addressing whether he thought Hendrick should try to lure another Sprint Cup team to buy its engines and chassis and fill the void left by Stewart-Haas Racing, which will move to Ford in 2017 after being aligned with Hendrick’s Chevrolets for several years.

Chip Ganassi Racing also uses engines built by Hendrick, which has a multimillion-dollar business as a supplier.

“It’s tricky,” Johnson said Friday at Kansas Speedway. “If (owner Rick) Hendrick can raise the money to not have that relationship, I think for us, selfishly it is better not to.”

Johnson detailed how Hendrick sometimes gets the short end of the sharing arrangement with SHR.

“Just to be selfishly speaking on Hendrick Motorsports, the Stewart-Haas relationship, we didn’t get their data,” he said. “We didn’t share their data. They had ours. So it was a fantastic situation for them. They had our best stuff, and then they have a huge engineering staff, and they can take Hendrick’s best equipment and refine it and make it better.”

Hendrick general manager Doug Duchardt clarified Johnson’s point of view after practice, noting that the information exchange between Hendrick and Stewart-Haas flowed much more freely until this season.

“The relationship from a data standpoint was a two-way relationship,” Duchardt said. “They received our information. We received their information. That’s the way it had worked from the time I’d been at Hendrick Motorsports (in 2005). Obviously, the beginning of this year, when they made their announcement to Ford, that changed things. The bottom line is as partners, we exchanged data between each other.

“For sure, this year, they haven’t gotten (our data), and we haven’t gotten theirs. So that got shut off before Daytona.”

Johnson likened his team’s situation to the alliance between Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing, which joined together this season. Furniture Row Racing is a one-car team that has four wins this season with Martin Truex Jr. Johnson’s three wins this year are the only victories for Hendrick while Stewart-Haas Racing, another four-car team, has five wins.

Johnson said Stewart-Haas also was strengthened by the addition of Kevin Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers in 2014, bringing the team its second Sprint Cup title.

“Before Rodney Childers and Kevin Harvick were at Stewart-Haas it worked pretty good for us,” Johnson said. “We had a bunch of income for the company, didn’t have to worry about racing for wins or championships against the Stewart-Haas equipment, but those guys changed the game and bringing Kurt Busch and Tony (Stewart) himself and all that is there you start questioning the relationship and if it really is the right thing, especially, with us not sharing the data.”

Johnson made similar comments at the Chase for the Sprint Cup media day in September, saying these type of relationships between team are “a slippery slope.”

“I understand the business dynamic, but it’s tricky,” Johnson said in September. “It hurts to be outrun by somebody in your equipment. But Ganassi, as well. They’re a big company with a lot of smart people, and we’re handing them a race-winning package that they’re then making better.”

Johnson said Friday that Hendrick “would always like to have some people running our engines and trying to do durability stuff on new motors that are coming out.”

The six-time champion pointed out there likely always will be smaller teams using Hendrick equipment, “but a team at that high of caliber (of Stewart-Haas Racing), I believe we would look really hard before we made that decision again.”

Brad Keselowski Racing announces crew chief assignments

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Brad Keselowski Racing has announced the crew chiefs that will be paired with both of its full-time rookie drivers this season in the Camping World Truck Series.

Austin Cindric, driving the No. 19 Draw-Tite Ford, will work with Doug Randolph. Randolph has been a crew chief for BKR since 2012 and has six wins, including three with Tyler Reddick in the last two seasons. Randolph also has four Xfinity Series wins.

Mike Hillman Jr. will be the crew chief for Chase Briscoe in the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford. Hillman is a two-time Truck series champion as crew chief for Todd Bodine (2006, 2010). He has 20 Truck Series wins, the last coming in 2013 with Jeb Burton.

“Austin Cindric has already had success in various forms of racing, and has shown a lot of potential in our Ford F-150 race trucks,” said Keselowski in a press release. “I certainly believe that Chase is ready to take the next step in his career, and we’re excited to have him join the BKR family. He won the ARCA championship in his first full-time season, and he’s proven to have the ability to learn quickly and win races. We’re pleased to give both Austin and Chase the opportunity to compete full-time at a high level in NASCAR.”

Briscoe, 22, enters his rookie season after winning the ARCA Racing Series title behind six race wins.

“It’s an absolutely huge opportunity and such an honor to drive for Brad,” said Briscoe in a press release. “The competition level in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is so high, but I’m going to be in the best equipment out there. It’s really cool to once again be working with the Keselowski family. When I moved to North Carolina three years ago, I was helping Brian and Bob in their shop, so things have come full circle. I’m truly blessed with this opportunity, and I hope to make the most of it. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning races and championships, and that’s what I plan to do.”

Cindric, 18, is the son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric. He has six starts with BKR over the last two seasons. His best result is 15th last November at Phoenix International Raceway.

“This is a massive opportunity from Brad and everyone at BKR who trusts me and believes in my abilities as a driver to move on to the next level for a full season,” said Cindric in a press release. “2017 gets more and more exciting for me with every day that goes by. I’ve only done a handful of one-off races in my brief stock car career, so I’m really looking forward to having the same guys by my side week in and week out. I’ve spent a lot of time at the shop the last few weeks and I know everyone is really excited to get back racing.”

The Truck Series season begins Feb. 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

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Kurt, Kyle Busch come up short in Nations Cup finale at Race of Champions

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 04:  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch hugs brother Kurt Busch during the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards show at Wynn Las Vegas on December 4, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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After early exits in the first day of the Race of Champion exhibition Saturday in Miami, Kyle and Kurt Busch returned on Sunday in hopes of winning the Nations Cup for the United States of America, but were swept in the finale by Germany’s Sebastian Vettel.

The brothers, representing Team USA NASCAR, were in Group A with USA IndyCar, USA Rally and ROC Factor Canada.

Kurt Busch’s struggles from Saturday continued in his first race against IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe. The Canadian driver beat Kurt Busch by .002 of a second. The NASCAR representative would bounce back in his next race, beating action sports star and former NASCAR driver Travis Pastrana.

In Kyle Busch‘s first race of the day, he faced and beat karting champion Stefan Rzadzinski of Canada. He followed it up by beating Scott Speed.

After six races, Team USA NASCAR and IndyCar had four wins each and faced each other in the semifinal round. But the Busch brothers prevailed over Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi from USA IndyCar to advance to the Nations Cup final against Vettel, who represented Germany by himself.

But Vettel swept the race, betting Kurt then Kyle Busch to claim the Nations Cup. Vettel swept all of his races, finishing Sunday with seven wins.

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NMPA names Jimmie Johnson Driver of the Year among annual awards

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 18:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2016 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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Jimmie Johnson was named the Richard Petty Driver of the Year on Saturday by the National Motorsports Press Association as part of its annual awards banquet.

It’s the seventh time that Johnson – who was named on 62 percent of the ballots cast – has been recognized with the award. He previously won it in 2004, ’06, ’07, ’09, ’10, and ’13.

The award comes after Johnson became the third driver to win a seventh championship in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

The NMPA also named Al Pearce of Autoweek as its annual Pocono Spirit Award winner.

The award, sponsored by Pocono Raceway, “recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity,
sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.”

Pearce won for a four-year project that raised $13,000 through the auction of a racing helmet signed by the 20 living World Driving Champions and Phil Hill and Sir Jack Brabham prior their passing. Proceeds from the project went to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation.

Dave Ferroni, the public relations representative for Furniture Row Racing,  was awarded the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award.

Involved in auto racing for more than 30 years, Ferroni was the publicist for the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. hockey team in 1980 before later serving working for Brainerd International Raceway and the National Hot Rod Association. His company, DMF Communications, has also worked with U.S. Army, Miller Brewing Co., Pennzoil, McDonald’s and Valvoline.

The Ken Patterson award is sponsored by Talladega Superspeedway, where Patterson served as the public relations director, and has been given out since 2004. The track will donate $1,000 in Ferroni’s name to the Kenneth Patterson Educational Trust Fund.

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NBCSN to broadcast NASCAR announcement at 6 p.m. ET Monday

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NBCSN will air live a press conference held by NASCAR industry stakeholders to discuss the upcoming 2017 season at 6 p.m. ET Monday.

The announcement will be attended by NASCAR executives, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, NASCAR team representatives and NASCAR track representatives.

The press conference is being held at the Charlotte Convention Center.