hendrick motorsports

Bump & Run: Biggest upsets in NASCAR

1 Comment

In light of UMBC’s upset of Virginia in the NCAA basketball tournament, what’s an upset in NASCAR that stands out to you?

Nate Ryan: David Gilliland in the Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway in 2006. That’s the closest approximation in modern-day NASCAR of what the Retrievers pulled off last Friday.

Dustin Long: David Gilliland’s Xfinity win at Kentucky in 2006 with a part-time and independent team. Remarkable upset that eventually led to a Cup ride.

Daniel McFadin: Front Row Motorsports’ two Cup wins, at Talladega in 2013 and Pocono in 2016. The first because David Ragan‘s surge to the lead on the final lap is the definition of “Where did he come from?” The second, because Chris Buescher earned his first Cup win via pit strategy and … fog.

Jerry Bonkowski: Actually, a two-part answer. First, when Trevor Bayne came out of nowhere and was pushed to the win in the 2011 Daytona 500 by Carl Edwards. And then there was the 1990 Daytona 500, when underdog Derrike Cope won.

What was something that stood out to you from the West Coast swing?

Nate Ryan: That the storylines from the end of last season (Toyotas, particularly Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch, are fast; Kevin Harvick is a championship contender; Hendrick Motorsports still is searching) generally have remained intact.

Dustin Long: Overlooked was that Erik Jones was one of only three drivers (Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were the others) to score a top-10 finish in all three races.

Daniel McFadin: Joey Logano going from 16th to first in four laps in the Xfinity race on Saturday thanks to fresh tires. It’s the closest thing to a video game I’ve ever seen in real life.

Jerry Bonkowski: I thought for sure that we’d see more success from some of the young drivers. But when it came down to it, veterans won all three races. Sooner or later, the young drivers have to start making more of a name for themselves, guys like Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, William Byron and others. And by making a name for themselves, I mean winning.

What’s a special Martinsville memory you have?

Nate Ryan: John Andretti rallying from a lap down to win the first race I covered (and attended) there in April 1999. I was crossing the track in Turn 1 when Andretti drove the No. 43 right by into victory lane … with “The King” sitting on the driver’s window opening (to an enormous cheer from the crowd).

Dustin Long: John Andretti’s April 1999 win, which completed a weekend sweep for Petty Enterprises. Jimmy Hensley won the Truck race for the organization the day before Andretti’s victory. “It looked like the good old times,’’ Petty said in victory lane after riding in on the driver’s window opening of the No. 43 car.

Daniel McFadin: When I covered my first race there in the fall of 2014 as an intern for Sporting News. It turned out to be Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s first and only win at the track and the only time I attended a race he won. He’s retired now so I can say he’s my favorite driver. I still have confetti from the celebration in a plastic bag. 

Jerry Bonkowski: This is more of a sad rather than special memory. I was at the fall race in 2004 when the Hendrick Motorsports plane crashed into nearby Bull Mountain, killing all onboard. We got word about halfway through the race that there had been an incident, and as we got closer to the end of the race, things became confirmed. I recall it as if it was yesterday, and it’s a day I’ll never forget.

Hendrick Motorsports withdraws appeal of Phoenix penalties against No. 9 team

Getty Images

Hendrick Motorsports has withdrawn its appeal of penalties against Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 team from last weekend’s race in Phoenix, NBC Sports confirmed.

NASCAR found a L1 infraction on Elliott’s car in the rear-suspension after the race at ISM Raceway.

NASCAR stated that the team’s truck trailing arm spacer/pinion angle shim mounting surfaces must be planar and in complete contact with corresponding mating surfaces at all points and at all times.

NASCAR fined crew chief Alan Gustafson $50,000, suspended car chief Josh Kirk two races and docked Elliott 25 points and the team 25 owner points. Elliott’s third-place finish in the race will not count toward any tiebreakers.

Following Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, where Elliott finished 16th, he is 21st in the point standings.

 and on Facebook

Jimmie Johnson breaks through with first top 10 of season

Getty Images
1 Comment

Jimmie Johnson was finally relevant on Sunday.

The seven-time Cup champion started 33rd in the Auto Club 400, but was able to do two things he hadn’t done through the first four races of the season.

He earned his first stage points of the year, finishing fifth in Stage 1 and seventh in Stage 2.

A six-time winner at Auto Club Speedway, Johnson also earned his first top 10 of the season. His ninth-place finish snapped a career-worst streak without a top 10 at 10 races.

His last top 10 was October at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Johnson’s career-worst streak of races without a win now stands at 28.

“Each week we have been getting a little bit better,” Johnson said. “We are definitely not happy with where we are right now, but we are seeing the improvements, we have been seeing it internally.  We are making the cars drive better and better and we are getting more competitive. So, a strong day for the Lowe’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We are not where we want to be but we are getting closer every week.”

Johnson and his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates had to overcome starting from the rear Sunday.

All four cars were among 13 that failed to get through qualifying inspection on Friday, preventing them from making a qualifying attempt.

Chase Elliott finished 16th, his worst result this year not related to a DNF for a crash.

Alex Bowman finished 13th, tying his best result of the season.

William Byron placed 15th.

Bowman and Byron remain without top-10 finishes this season.

NASCAR America: Analyzing penalty vs. Chase Elliott, team and planned appeal

1 Comment

On Thursday’s NASCAR America, Nate Ryan, Dale Jarrett and Parker Kligerman gave their takes on Wednesday’s penalties assessed to Chase Elliott and his team.

One bit of good news: because Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalties, car chief Josh Kirk (who faces a two-race suspension), will be able to attend this weekend’s race in Fontana, California.

Also, crew chief Alan Gustafson will have his $50,000 fine held in abeyance pending the outcome of the appeal.

Elliott has lost 25 driver points (falls from 16th to 23rd in the Cup standings) and team owner Rick Hendrick lost 25 owner points, but those numbers could be reversed if the appeal reverses the penalties.

NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan compared Elliott’s penalty to the kind Joey Logano received after winning last year at Richmond, missing the playoffs as a result.

Elliott finished third last Sunday at Phoenix before being assessed with the Level 1 penalty for a rear suspension violation.

“The team is going to try and challenge (the penalty),” Ryan said. “There has not been a day and time scheduled for that appeal hearing yet. I presume it will probably happen next week.

“Hendrick Motorsports will go in front of the three-man panel and make its case with the possibility the penalty could be reduced or overturned, but that doesn’t happen often, only about a third of the time does that (appeals) panel reduce a penalty.”

Jarrett called the penalty “very unfortunate,” but added, “if there’s a good side of it from the team side, it happened early in the year and they can make up those 25 points, although you don’t want to put yourself at a deficit.”

Jarrett said his biggest takeaway from Wednesday’s penalty is that it came three days after the race, and about 2,000 miles away in Concord, North Carolina, rather than be found and assessed where the race occurred Sunday, in Avondale, Arizona.

“We have to some way, some time, find a way that we’re not taking these cars back and looking at every little detail and then levy penalties on Wednesday,” Jarrett said. “It’s not that it’s a little (violation), I understand there’s something there, but going to back to the R&D Center and levying these penalties on Wednesday, I don’t agree with.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR America: Kyle Petty on why replacing Lowe’s could be difficult for Jimmie Johnson


NASCAR’s trio of seven-time champions have built vast cache with the companies they represented.

Richard Petty became synonymous with STP. Dale Earnhardt’s connection to the black GM Goodwrench paint scheme was iconic. And Jimmie Johnson has become a fixture as the polished spokesman for Lowe’s the past 17 seasons.

That will change next year as Lowe’s announced Wednesday that the 2018 season will be its last as the primary sponsor of Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet. With a Hendrick contract that runs through 2020, Johnson and the team now will be hunting significant sponsorship for the first time since his rookie season in 2002.

Getty Images

On Wednesday’s NASCAR America (video above), analyst Kyle Petty explained why that might be difficult.

“That’s going to be tough I think,” Petty said. “Richard Petty was an STP driver. I can’t imagine Richard Petty ever being anything but STP. Even though Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove that Wranger car, I remember him as the Goodwrench guy. That’s his brand.

“Jimmie Johnson has tied his brand to Lowe’s. It is Jimmie Johnson, it is Lowe’s, it is Chad Knaus, it is Hendrick Motorsports. If I come in and sponsor the last couple of years of his career, am I just going to be the answer to a trivia question at some time? ‘Who sponsored Jimmie Johnson the last year of his career?’, that type of thing.”

Jamie Squire /Allsport

Johnson, 42, does offer a resume that includes 83 victories (tied with Cale Yarborough for sixth all time) and the record-tying seven titles. And a major selling point could be the history-making possibility of an eighth championship awaiting future sponsors.

But Petty said that success also could work against the search.

“When you’ve had success with a sponsor that they have had, when you’ve had the success of championships and race wins, and you’ve built that brand, it’s tough to rebrand yourself at 40, 41, 42, 43 as a driver,” Petty said. “I think Hendrick, even though (Johnson) is a seven-time champion, even though he can win races, it’s a little bit of a battle. It’s going to take the right company to come in and say, ‘I’ll take this project on.’ ”