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Jimmie Johnson pays it forward to NASCAR Cup, Xfinity rookies

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Long before he won a record-tying seven NASCAR Cup championships, Jimmie Johnson received good advice and guidance from countless individuals in the early years of his career.

Johnson is now paying things forward. At NASCAR’s recent Young Driver’s Conference, where NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series rookies were given instruction on what to expect in their new series, Johnson imparted some of the lessons he learned years ago.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookies this season will include Erik Jones (No. 77 Toyota), Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota), Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet) and Gray Gaulding (No. 23 Toyota).

Jones and Suarez are already NASCAR champions. Jones won the 2015 Camping World Truck Series title; Suarez won the 2016 Xfinity Series champ.

Also in the audience when Johnson spoke were 2017 Xfinity Series rookies William Byron, Matt Tifft, Cole Custer, Spencer Gallagher and Daniel Hemric.

“I was excited to speak, excited to share some of my stories,” Johnson told NBC Sports. “A few of those stories and the points I made consisted of you’ve got to be you. And as you get going through your career, you’re going to be labeled with something if you like it or not.

“People have thought, the first one I had, was that I had a silver spoon in my mouth. People didn’t realize the upbringing I had and how hard I worked to get into those quality rides that provided so much for me. And the other is being vanilla.

“I think that’s all kind of behind me now. But my point to the rookies is you’re going to be labeled something, be you, don’t let the outside world change you. You have to stay focused on who or what you are and what got you to this point.”

Another element that Johnson conveyed to those who are following in his footsteps and tire tracks is patience.

“I’ve given plenty of examples of being patient in my career and how they’ve worked out for me,” Johnson said. “It’s the hardest thing to hear as a driver, to be patient, but it does pay off.”

And never forget where you came from, Johnson added.

“The other piece is remember everybody as you’re climbing this ladder because at some point, you’re going to have come down that ladder,” he said. “Not everybody makes it to being a full-time driver and has a driving job.

“Rodney Childers (Kevin Harvick’s crew chief) is my example for that. Rodney and I came in and were both racing for rookie of the year honors in the Busch Series in 2000. Our paths took far different routes, but we still ended up with championships (Johnson with seven Cup championships, Childers won the 2014 Cup championship with Harvick).”

In conclusion, Johnson summed up what he told the young drivers.

“So you never know where you’re going to end up, don’t burn bridges, remember how to handle things and worry about your reputation.”

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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.

NASCAR America live at 5:30 p.m. ET: Auto Club Speedway preview, iRacing simulator

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs for 90 minutes beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and previews this weekend’s action at Auto Club Speedway.

Krista Voda hosts with Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut. Dale Jarrett joins them from Burton’s Garage.

On today’s show:

  • My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows continues as we visit Central Arizona Speedway in Casa Grande. We’ll also discuss some fun facts about the Grand Canyon State.
  • 2014 Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick has been on a roller coaster ride through four races this season. Now, he heads home to California where he looks to grab his first win of the season. We’ll take a trip to Harvick’s hometown of Bakersfield and examine his Racing Roots.
  • Kligerman jumps in the simulator to see what challenges the drivers will face this weekend in Fontana.

If you can’t catch the show on TV, you also can watch it via the online stream at http://nascarstream.nbcsports.com

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you plug-in that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5:30 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.