Bump & Run: Is Dover Jimmie Johnson’s time?

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Next on the schedule is Dover, a place Jimmie Johnson has 11 wins and is the site of his last Cup victory (33 races ago). What does this weekend mean for Johnson?

Parker Kligerman: Personally, I feel he is as motivated as ever and that a win would be great for the entire HMS organization. But to be solid championship contenders, there will still be a lot of work to be done – no matter what happens at Dover.

Nate Ryan: It’s another opportunity for his team to find its footing. It represents a better than average chance than he’s had at winning in 2018, but it would be uncharacteristic for Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus to enter one of their best tracks with outsized confidence or expectations based on past results.

Dustin Long: This is a chance to take a step forward, to build on what they’ve been doing this season. This is merely part of the process. This won’t solve every issue but has the potential to provide some momentum.

Daniel McFadin: It’s obviously his best shot at a win. Since his win there last June, Johnson has two top fives, in the fall Dover race and earlier this month at Bristol, where he also won last year. Late cautions at Richmond helped him finish sixth and Talladega is its own thing. Even if he does perform well at Dover, there’s no way of knowing if it’ll be a sign of things to come.

Dan Beaver: The No. 48 team is still a long way from contending for a win, but if Johnson can get a top five – only his second of the season – this should be counted as a step in the right direction. That would be his seventh top-15 in the last eight races.

This weekend is the final Dash 4 Cash event in the Xfinity Series. Cup drivers have not been allowed to compete in those races. Cup drivers also can’t compete in the Xfinity regular-season finale and playoff races. Should there be further reductions on Cup drivers in Xfinity races?

Parker Kligerman: At this point, how much more can we limit them without entirely banning them? That’s the real question here. I will say it has been more of an incentive to watch, and I enjoy the races more knowing we may see a winner like Ryan Preece, but I don’t know if there is any more room to limit them without saying they simply can’t. 

Nate Ryan: It seems as if the reductions will happen naturally given the current trends, so it seems unnecessary to implement more restrictions.

Dustin Long: I’m leery of running Cup drivers out of all races because teams say it helps with acquiring sponsorship. I’m all for limiting the total number of Cup drivers in some Xfinity races as a further reduction down the road but not ready to ban them for every race.

Daniel McFadin: I’m for any restrictions that go toward an environment in which it’s not a big deal when a full-time Xfinity regular wins a race. Three through nine races is one better than this point last year, when the third full-timer didn’t win until the 14th race (William Byron at Iowa). I applaud NASCAR’s efforts, but there’s more that could be done.

Dan Beaver: It has been very refreshing to see the Xfinity only drivers compete. Giving them a chance to actually win races and stage bonus points makes their playoff more meaningful. Reducing the number of Cup drivers in a given race is not going to help with that, but it would be nice if NASCAR would make other “Free Zones” throughout the season – three or four races at a time, free from Cup drivers. That would also help with the developmental process for up-and-coming drivers.

Who wins first: Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson or Jimmie Johnson?

Parker Kligerman: Brad Keselowski. The Penske cars are looking great and I think Brad is operating at a high level with a lot of motivation right now. 

Nate Ryan: Denny Hamlin has yet to win at Dover or Charlotte, but he could break through at either this month — possibly even Sunday at the track he once dreaded. If not there, Kansas and Charlotte will present major opportunities.

Dustin Long: Kyle Larson is the one I’m keeping my eye on in the next few weeks.

Daniel McFadin: If Bristol was any indication, if Kyle Larson can finally put together a clean race, he’ll be the person to watch out for at Dover.

Dan Beaver: Team Penske has been on the cusp of winning all season and now that Joey Logano has shown the way, Brad Keselowski will soon follow. His second-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway made him best in class after Kevin Harvick’s dominance. The No. 2 team was only about one adjustment away from winning at Auto Club Speedway.

William Byron out of Daytona 500 after wreck

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William Byron is the first driver out of the Daytona 500 following a wreck late in Stage 1.

Byron, who won his qualifying race last week, wrecked with seven laps left in the stage after he received a push from pole-sitter Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Byron slid through the backstretch grass before hitting the inside wall nose-first.

Byron was running in the top five with all three of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates when the incident occurred.

“He was kind moving when he hit me first,” Byron told Fox. “So he pushed me left with him. Then he hit me off center in the left rear and just turned me around. … It’s unfortunate. I feel like there’s really no reason, it’s Lap 45 or whatever it was, to be that aggressive moving across my bumper.”

Byron doesn’t leave Daytona empty-handed as he has 10 points from his qualifying race win.

Former NASCAR Chairman Brian France defends leadership style in interview

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Former NASCAR Chairman Brian France defended his leadership style when running the stock-car series and said in an interview with Sports Business Journal that he was working on leaving the sport before he was ousted after his DWI arrest in August 2018.

The interview with Sports Business Journal marked France’s first public comments since his arrest.

France became NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in September 2003, assuming the position from his father, Bill France Jr.

Brian France held that position until Aug. 6, 2018, when he took a leave of absence after his arrest for driving while intoxicated in Sag Harbor, New York. He was replaced by Jim France and did not return to NASCAR.

Brian France pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in June 2019. As part of the agreement, he was required to complete 100 hours of community service and undergo alcohol counseling. If he completes those and does not run afoul of the law, his misdemeanor charge will be reduced to a non-criminal infraction in June 2020.

France told Sports Business Journal that he was actively talking to and identifying potential replacements before his arrest but did not go into detail.

France, who oversaw the TV deal with NBC and Fox that goes through 2024 and created the Chase/playoff format, defended his absence from the track during his reign. France did not attend every race and that became an issue in the garage, raising questions about how involved he was with the sport.

“I understand that kind of criticism, but there is no other sports league that gets any criticism like that,” France told Sports Business Journal of the time he spent at the track. “I’ve always found that a bit interesting that no one else asks another commissioner how many football games or practices he made.”

Jim France is at the track nearly every weekend. Brian France told Sports Business Journal that while his uncle attends more races to match his objective, “(it) didn’t match up with mine, so I had to take the criticism on my way to managing the commercial side.”

France, who endorsed Donald Trump for president at a Feb. 29, 2016 rally at Valdosta State University in Georgia, accompanied President Trump on Air Force One to Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, according to the pool media report.

Monday’s Daytona 500: Restart time, weather and more

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Let’s try this again.

After rain postponed Sunday’s race, Cup drivers will get back on track Monday at Daytona International Speedway to complete the Daytona 500. And the forecast looks very good for Monday’s race.

The race was halted after 20 of 180 laps with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leading.

Here are today’s details:

(All times are Eastern)

RESTART: Command to fire engines at 4:02 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:12 p.m. 

DISTANCE: 180 of the scheduled 200 laps remain to be run on the 2.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 65. Stage 2 ends on Lap 130.

TV/RADIO: Fox’s broadcast begins at 4 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s broadcast begins at 4 p.m. and also can be heard on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 73 degrees and a 3% chance of rain when the race resumes.

RUNNING ORDER:

  1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Aric Almirola
  4. Ryan Newman
  5. Kevin Harvick
  6. Brad Keselowski
  7. William Byron
  8. Jimmie Johnson
  9. Ty Dillon
  10. Timmy Hill
  11. David Ragan
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Matt DiBenedetto
  14. Chase Elliott
  15. Ross Chastain
  16. Alex Bowman
  17. Kyle Larson
  18. Kurt Busch
  19. Austin Dillon
  20. Cole Custer
  21. Michael McDowell
  22. Tyler Reddick
  23. Ryan Blaney
  24. Bubba Wallace
  25. Reed Sorenson
  26. BJ McLeod
  27. Corey LaJoie
  28. Brendan Gaughan
  29. Ryan Preece
  30. Justin Haley
  31. Martin Truex Jr.
  32. Kyle Busch
  33. Erik Jones
  34. Christopher Bell
  35. Denny Hamlin
  36. Clint Bowyer
  37. John Hunter Nemechek
  38. Quin Houff
  39. Joey Gase
  40. Brennan Poole

Daytona 500 postponed to Monday

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The Daytona 500 has been postponed until Monday, NASCAR announced Sunday evening.

The race is scheduled to take the green flag at 4:05 p.m. ET Monday. The garage will open at 1:30 p.m. The race will air on Fox.

The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 72 degrees and an 11% chance of rain when the race is scheduled to resume.

The race was scheduled to take the green flag Sunday at 3:18 p.m. ET but that was pushed back because of President Donald Trump’s participation in ceremonies before the race. He gave the command to start engines and his motorcade led the field on a pace lap. An extra pace lap was done to honor Jimmie Johnson, who is making his final Daytona 500 start.

As the field was set to take the green flag at 3:29 p.m. ET, rain in Turns 1 and 2 prevented the start. Rain fell throughout the track and led to a 51-minute delay.

When the race resumed, the field completed 20 laps before rain led to a caution at 4:36 p.m. ET. The field again was brought to pit road and the race was stopped. NASCAR told teams they could uncover cars on pit road at 6:18 p.m. ET but almost immediately there were reports of rain drops around the track. Drivers were called to their cars but never got in them. It began to pour around 6:44 p.m. ET. The race was called at 6:50 p.m. ET

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the opening 20 laps. He is followed by Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick.

Sixth through 10th is Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Ty Dillon and Timmy Hill.

This is the second time the Daytona 500 has been postponed by rain. It happened in 2012.