From ‘Oh, s—!’ to ‘full-blown panic’: Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray on terrifying rides

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LONG POND, Pa. – Rocketing toward the wall at high speed and without any brakes, Jimmie Johnson’s wild ride at Pocono Raceway lasted roughly 4 to 5 seconds but felt like “4 to 5 minutes.

“It was forever,” the seven-time series champion said.

Yet there was only enough time to think one thing.

“Just a huge, ‘Oh, s—!’ ” Johnson said with a smile outside the care center Sunday afternoon after being checked out from a heavy impact that resulted in a 23-minute red flag. “It doesn’t really go any further than that. You’re just like, ‘Wow, this is really going to hurt.’ Then it ended up being soft, and I was like, ‘OK, didn’t expect that.’ You can’t think about much, but ‘Oh s—!’ definitely entered my mind.”

The Hendrick Motorsports driver radioed his team that he “got away with one there” after the brake failure in the first turn on Lap 96. The impact seemed nearly as wicked as Johnson’s head-on crash into a tire barrier at Watkins Glen International during the 2000 Xfinity Series race.

Johnson triumphantly raised his arms after that wreck, but this time, he climbed from his No. 48 Chevrolet and sat against the wall with his arms folded while reflecting on the accident.

Though he wasn’t hurt – “no sore spots, no aches, I feel fine” – he still was shook up after having no warning his brakes were fading before his pedal suddenly went to the floor.

“I just needed a minute,” said Johnson, who speculated the failure was caused by overheating. “I thought it was going to be a lot worse than that. To have it turn out where I just scared myself, I just needed to sit down and catch my breath.”

Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne later crashed with a brake failure.

After the Watkins Glen crash, Johnson told himself he would turn right toward the wall to mitigate such an impact the next time, but instincts still caused him to veer left. He did manage to slam the shifter into third gear and caught the grass, helping slide the car into a slightly more gentle rear-end hit.

Just behind Johnson’s wreck, Jamie McMurray lost the brakes in his No. 1 Chevrolet in Turn 1 just seconds later.

“It was really weird it happened at the exact same time as (Johnson),” McMurray said. “We both turned left, and we probably should have turned toward the wall instead of making it a bigger impact.”

His car caught fire while slowing to a stop along the inside barrier, causing McMurray to yank the air-conditioning hose from his helmet and scramble out of the cockpit with the car rolling.

“I wanted to get out faster and didn’t realize I was moving while getting out,” McMurray said. “It’s amazing how crazy hot it gets inside the car.

“I threw the steering wheel on the dash, and it bounced back and got my legs pinned. I couldn’t get out for a second, and I went from trying not to panic to full-blown panic to get out.”

Johnson could relate to the emotions.

“It gets your attention when you don’t have control of the car like that,” he said. “So now I’ll go change my underwear and head home.”

NASCAR America: Navigating Sonoma means plenty of twists and turns

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You turn left and turn right, what’s the big deal, right?

Actually, wrong.

Sonoma Raceway is an extremely technical racetrack full of winding turns both to the left and right.

On Thursday’s NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman took to the iRacing Simulator to show what drivers might expect on the nearly two-mile roadcourse north of San Francisco this weekend.

NASCAR America: Which NASCAR driver is ready for zombie apocalypse?

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Now there’s something you don’t hear NASCAR drivers talk about every day: how to prepare — and potentially survive — a zombie apocalypse.

Our intrepid reporter, Rutledge Wood, threw a number of NASCAR drivers for a loop when he asked them that very question.

The reactions range from incredulousness to seriousness.  Among those Rut talked with included Martin Truex Jr., Elliott Sadler, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson.

And here’s a few surprises:

  • Brad Keselowski wants to buy a tank for the apocalypse, and supposedly Dale Earnhardt Jr. is waiting to take delivery on his own tank — both to kill zombies, of course!
  • Several drivers also talked about one of their former own who reportedly has already made big plans to take on any zombies that come across his path. As Wood said, that former driver’s name rhymes with Schmarl Schmedwards.

Check out the hysterical video — trust us, it WILL make you laugh — if for nothing else the outlandish responses from some of the drivers.

But it also makes one wonder: what if a zombie is among us and he’s disguised as a zombie? What then — and who might it be?

NASCAR America: John Hunter Nemechek looks to overcome small team, funding

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The good news for John Hunter Nemechek was with his win last weekend at Gateway, he and Nemco Motorports qualified for this season’s Camping World Truck Series playoffs.

But there is potential bad news, as well: because of having one of the smallest teams in the truck series and limited funding, Nemechek and his team are going to need more financial help, lest they potentially can’t afford to race for the championship in the playoffs.

Nemechek talked about that with NASCAR America on Thursday’s show. See the above video.

NASCAR America: Papis teaching next generation of NASCAR champions

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Even though much of his racing career was spent in open-wheel competition, it may surprise some to know Como, Italy native Max Papis has a combined 95 career starts in NASCAR across its three racing series: Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

Papis’ versatility has proven invaluable in mentoring a number of young drivers with the potential of some day becoming NASCAR champions, including current student William Byron.

Papis spent Thursday on NASCAR America talking about what makes a good young driver and how he enjoys his role as a mentor and teacher.