Jimmie Johnson: ‘a lot of faith’ in creation of new point system that could make people ‘desperate’

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CHARLOTTE- Jimmie Johnson has “a lot of faith” in the creation of NASCAR’s new point system and believes it could make people “desperate.”

Johnson, a seven-time champion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, was the last champion under the old format, which became obsolete Monday around 6 p.m. ET.

“The big takeaway I have, when you put all the smart people in the room and what it could look like … I think that’s a smart move,” Johnson said Tuesday at the NASCAR Media Tour. “Knowing our environment, knowing how to take the best from each of those folks in the room, the major stakeholders … I have a lot of faith in that. I’m excited everyone took the time to put their heads together. It’s all about winning, finishing the best you can. Doesn’t matter what it is. There’s incentive to go out and perform. It’s tough to change much of what I do.”

MORE: Nate Ryan: The Chase is dead in name only

MORE: Q&A about the new points system

The format introduces three segments to all races with points awarded at the end of each. Said Johnson, “It might take people from the 100 percent mark to being more desperate.”

Johnson, who doesn’t see himself as a strong qualifier – despite 35 career poles and an average start of 12.1 – thinks that could work against his team in the new format. Points will be awarded to the top 10 finishers in each of the first two segments, with 10 the first driver and one to the driver in the 10th.

“Qualifying has been tough for us,” Johnson said. “We might leave points on the table that first segment because our qualifying isn’t where we want it to be. It’s not one of my natural strengths. It’s going to force people to be more aggressive and more competitive. In some situations, not all, but in some situations.”

NASCAR has altered the points system multiple times since Johnson won his first title in 2006, including after Johnson won his fifth championship in a row in 2010 and its introduction of the playoff system in 2014 after his sixth title.

“I’m not bigger than NASCAR, there’s no way they’re making changes because of the 48,” Johnson said. “This sports a lot bigger than one person.”

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NASCAR America: Steve Letarte on challenges of avoiding speeding penalites

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NBC Sports analysts Steve Letarte joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast this week. One of the topics the former crew chief discussed is the challenge of avoiding speeding penalties on pit road. Letarte said the introduction of digital dashboards has made it even harder.

Watch the video to hear his thoughts.

NASCAR America: Comparing severity of Harvick, Keselowski and Allmendinger penalties

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NASCAR handed out two crew chief suspensions in the Cup this week following the race weekend in Phoenix while another was upheld on appeal.

Brad Keselowski‘s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, was suspended three races and the team was docked 35 driver and owners points for failing weights and measurements in post-race inspection.

Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, was suspended one race and the team docked 10 driver and owner points for an unapproved track bar slider assembly.

The penalties for AJ Allmendinger‘s team, including the suspension of crew chief Randall Burnett, was upheld after an appeal.

The NASCAR America crew debates which team is hurt the most by their penalties.

 

Mario Andretti tries out, approves of Charlotte Motor Speedway road course

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We now have two positive reviews of the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.

Following AJ Allmendinger‘s comments back in January, IndyCar legend Mario Andretti has shared his thoughts on the 2.4-mile circuit that will likely host a NASCAR Cup race in fall 2018.

As a guest of the track and the NASCAR Racing Experience, the 77-year-old driver piloted two cars – a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid and a 2017 Cadillac CTS-V. Andretti maxed out at 177 mph in the Porsche.

“It’s very difficult sometimes to really create a road course where you can ‘stretch your legs’ inside an oval,” Andretti said in a press release. “From that standpoint, I think they did a good job by giving it rhythm by putting some banking to the hairpin corners – which obviously invites some overtaking. It’s wide enough that you can choose a line. You’re not really trapped. … It’s got a multiple-line (groove) that you can choose from, depending on the capability of the car.”

The “roval” circuit would use most of the 1.5-mile oval NASCAR already competes on.

Allmendinger took part in a data test on the road course in mid-January and later said it “was a lot of fun.”

Earlier this month, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith said the track “learned a lot” from the test.

“We have done a lot to engineer a world-class road course that would include the ‘roval,'” Smith told NBC Sports, adding that “several truckloads of crash walls and catchfence” were being transported in for installation.

The Cup Series has two road courses on it schedule, at Sonoma Raceway in California and Watkins Glen International in New York.

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Drivers unhurt in crash of Furniture Row Racing hauler near Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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The drivers of the Furniture Row Racing hauler carrying Erik Jones’ No. 77 Toyota were uninjured Thursday in a hit-and-run accident 15 miles north of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Travis Watts, who was behind the wheel, and David Shano were traveling from Phoenix Raceway to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, when their tractor-trailer rig was struck shortly after midnight on Interstate 15, according to a team release. The team said a car carrying two occupants pulled off the shoulder and back onto the highway directly in front of the truck, causing front-end damage to the tractor.

The team said there was no damage to the trailer or its interior, which was carrying Jones’ cars.

“We’re all very relieved no one was injured in the incident,” team president Joe Garone said. “There was substantial damage to the tractor, but everything in the trailer was checked out thoroughly and is OK. We’ve rented a tractor and the No. 77 hauler is on schedule to arrive at Auto Club Speedway later (Thursday).”

The team rented a replacement tractor at a Rush Truck Centers in North Las Vegas.

According to the team, the Nevada Highway Patrol apprehended and arrested the occupants of the car. The team is working to supply police with a video dash cam from the No. 77 tractor.