NASCAR

Who is NASCAR’s greatest? Richard Petty? Dale Earnhardt? Jimmie Johnson?

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After Jimmie Johnson’s record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, the question is who is the sport’s greatest driver – Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt or Johnson?

Of course that is if you go solely by championships and each won seven. There will be those who bring up David Pearson’s name. Pearson won three titles in four seasons he ran nearly the full schedule. Many years, he ran no more than two-thirds of a season.

Naturally, the focus is on Johnson, Petty and Earnhardt because of their titles.

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon provides his answer this way:

I was driving the same race cars for the same team as Jimmie and getting beat by Jimmie,’’ Gordon said after Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “To me, he’s the best I’ve ever seen. I saw Earnhardt do some extraordinary things. I never got to race against Richard in his prime.

“I got to see Dale do some amazing things. To me, I feel like our cars and our teams, we could compete with (Earnhardt) and beat him at certain tracks. On the superspeedways, I felt like he was unstoppable, but Jimmie, he’s just a complete package, the team is a complete package. They’re the best I’ve ever seen.’’

Dale Earnhardt Jr., son of a seven-time champ, viewed the issue this way:

“It’s pretty impressive. I don’t know if we’ll ever see anybody win seven because it just gets harder. The competition is so tough and fate is such a big role-player in the way the format is, but Jimmie did it. The circumstances are so challenging for him compared to Richard and my father. There were challenges for those guys as well, but this environment today is most competitive.’’

Earnhardt also made the point that had their careers overlapped more, the three would not have won so many titles.

“I’m impressed that (Johnson) won seven championships under the competition that he’s faced,’’ Earnhardt said. “He faced more competition than my dad did, more than Richard did.

“I think that if you put all three of them in any era, they all can counter each other. If dad races with Jimmie, Jimmie doesn’t win seven. If Jimmie races with dad, dad doesn’t win seven championships.

“I think talent-wise it’s impossible to measure one against the other. We ought to put them all on a pedestal with a few others up there like Cale (Yarborough) and David Pearson and guys like that. The most impressive thing, I think, is Jimmie can hang his hat on he did it the hard way.’’

NASCAR America: NASCAR’s stars hit the track for the ‘Little 600’ (video)

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Like more than three dozen of his NASCAR Cup counterparts, Joey Logano is gearing up for the longest race of the year, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

To warm up, Logano, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. and other NASCAR drivers headed to the GoPro Motorplex in North Carolina for the “Little 600.”

Check out how they fared in the above video that was on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

 

Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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CONCORD, N.C. — Kevin Harvick will start on the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, marking the second consecutive race at Charlotte Motor Speedway he has led the field to the green flag.

Harvick, a two-time Coke 600 winner, earned the top starting spot Thursday night with a lap of 193.424 mph in his Ford. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch, who won last weekend’s All-Star Race.

Chase Elliott starts third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Erik Jones.

Points leader Kyle Larson will start 39th in the 40-car field after not making a qualifying attempt. He hit the wall in practice and then his team couldn’t get through qualifying inspection until one minute remained in the opening round of the session. The team was unable to get Larson out of the garage in time to make an attempt.

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Slugger Labbe: How do crew chiefs prepare for grueling Coca-Cola 600? (video)

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Veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe stopped by the NASCAR America studio in Charlotte on Thursday.

Labbe gave his perspective on how NASCAR Cup crew chiefs will prepare for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. While the race length will be the same as it has been for decades, one significant change will have crew chiefs developing strategy that they’ve never had to deal with in the 600, namely, four different race stages.

Labbe also gave his take on the positives and negatives of the Laser Inspection Station for both pre- and post-race inspections.

Check out the above video.

NASCAR: Remembering Martin Truex Jr.’s dominating 2016 Coca-Cola 600 win

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In one of the most dominating performances in NASCAR history, Martin Truex Jr. turned last year’s Coca-Cola 600 into a runaway one-man show, leading the field for 392 of 400 laps.

Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America took a look back at Truex’s record-setting win.

Check out the video above.