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.”

My Home Tracks: New Mexico’s the Land of Enchantment and home of Cardinal Speedway

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The state of New Mexico is known more for IndyCar racing, with the Unser family being the state’s favorite sons.

Al Unser won four Indianapolis 500s, brother Bobby three and Al’s son Al Jr. a two-time winner (this weekend’s 500 marks the 25th anniversary of Little Al’s second 500 triumph).

But there’s a strong grassroots racing scene in the Land of Enchantment, particularly in the far southeast corner of the state at Cardinal Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in the little town of Eunice.

NASCAR America continues its My Home Track series of 50 states in 50 shows.

Wednesday, we visit New York state.

2018 NASCAR schedule changes: EVP Steve O’Donnell breaks it down (video)

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On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell joined us to discuss the NASCAR Cup schedule changes in 2018, including running a road race at Charlotte and having Indianapolis be the final race before the playoffs.

“I’m real excited about these changes,” said O’Donnell, who cited unprecedented cooperation between NASCAR, its teams, drivers and sponsors to reach agreement on the schedule changes.

Among the key changes: Las Vegas will kick off the 10-race playoffs in 2018 (Chicagoland Speedway, which will have hosted the last seven playoff openers, will return to its more traditional race date in early July/late June and serve as a run-up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Several other changes include:

  • The fall playoff race at Charlotte will move up a couple weeks in the schedule and also incorporate competition on both the infield road course and part of the speedway itself.
  • After 14 years as the deciding race to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Richmond International Raceway will now become the second race of the playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see it’s Brickyard 400 go from late July to become the final qualifying race for the playoffs in early September. While still in the rumor stage, there’s a lot of talk that IMS may change the race to something akin to its Verizon IndyCar Series Indy Grand Prix race in mid-May, where half the race is run on the infield road course and the other half on the traditional racetrack surface.

Catch up on all the changes in the above video.

Tony Stewart pulled over by state trooper, but it’s not for speeding

Photo courtesy Damein Cunningham Twitter account
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Retired NASCAR Cup driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart was stopped by an Illinois State Trooper over the weekend near DeKalb, Ill., about 90 minutes west of Chicago.

But before you think Stewart was stopped for speeding by Trooper Damein Cunningham, he wasn’t.

Rather, Cunningham pulled Stewart over for improper lane usage, although exactly what the infraction was is unclear.

After getting a verbal warning, Stewart gladly posed with Cunningham for a selfie, which the trooper promptly tweeted out.

“Just pulled over NASCAR LEGEND Tony Stewart on I-88 in DeKalb, IL, what you think I got him for? #NASCAR #ISP”

But according to the Chicago Tribune, Cunningham’s bosses apparently didn’t have a sense of humor about the incident or realize the good PR it meant for the Illinois State Police.

That, or they’re not Stewart or NASCAR fans. They ordered Cunningham to delete the tweet, which he did.

It’s unclear what Stewart, who was stopped on his 46th birthday, was doing in the Land of Lincoln.

But his luck went from bad to worse a few hours later. According to USA Today, Stewart and others were stuck in an elevator in a Madison, Wisconsin hotel for about 20 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.

We can just imagine what the elevator riders talked about while trapped.

How much do you want to bet Stewart said, “Man, do I have a story about a cop that I have to tell you.”

Cunningham then posted another tweet on Sunday after attending church services.

 

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All-Star Race will remain at Charlotte in 2018

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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NASCAR confirmed that the All-Star Race will be held again at Charlotte Motor Speedway despite more of a push from competitors and others to move the event.

Criticism was raised after last weekend’s 70-lap event featured only three lead changes. Kyle Busch took the lead on the restart to begin the final 10-lap stage and went on to win. It marked the fourth time in the last five years the All-Star winner led every lap in the final stage. In 12 All-Star Races at Charlotte since the track was repaved, there have been two lead changes in the final five laps.

Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, was clear in a call with reporters Tuesday that the All-Star Race is set for Charlotte.

“We’ve finished our discussions for ’18,” he said. ” We’ll begin looking at ’19 and beyond in the near future.”

The All-Star Race debuted at Charlotte in 1985, moved to Atlanta in 1986 and returned to Charlotte the following year. It has been held at Charlotte ever since.

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