Jimmie Johnson looks to end winless streak at his best winless track

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It has been a very, very long time since Jimmie Johnson visited Victory Lane in the Cup Series.

It’s been two seasons and three races since Johnson won at Dover International Speedway in June 2017.

But it’s been even longer since Johnson enjoyed a victory at Chicagoland Speedway. In fact, Johnson’s lone win on the 1.5-mile track came in its inaugural Xfinity race in 2001. It is his only win in the Xfinity Series.

Yes, Johnson, the seven-time champion and 83-time Cup winner has not won at Chicago in NASCAR’s premier series.

It is one of three active Cup tracks he has multiple starts at that he has yet to win on, including Watkins Glen and Kentucky.

But there’s multiple reasons being winless at Chicago probably rubs Johnson the wrong way and why ending his winless streak would be made sweeter.

For one, he’s pretty good there.

Johnson has made 17 Cup starts at Chicagoland since 2002. He has led a track-record 695 laps. The next highest total for a winless driver at Chicagoland is Kurt Busch with 124 laps led.

Johnson’s total is the eight highest among Cup drivers who have the most laps led at a track without a win. At least Johnson doesn’t have to worry about being winless at Martinsville after leading 1,986 laps, as is the case with Bobby Allison.

Via: Racing Insights

Johnson has been close to winning in Chicago. He has earned three runner-up results there with the most recent coming in 2012 after he led 172 laps from the pole.

His most recent solid outing there came in 2016 when he started eighth and led 118 laps before he finished 12th.

Should Johnson break through Sunday, it would mark the longest winless streak that was snapped in Chicago.

The longest snapped streak belongs to David Reutimann, who ended a 42-race winless streak in 2010.

Why should Johnson feel confident about his prospects this weekend?

While he’s finished 12th or worse in the last three races, he enters the weekend with the longest active streak of top 10s on 1.5-mile tracks with three. That’s one more than Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher.

He was sixth in the Coca-Cola 600 two weeks after he finished eighth at Kansas Speedway. The streak began at Texas Motor Speedway in March, where he started from the pole, led 60 laps and finished second in Stage 1 before eventually placing fifth.

Clint Bowyer looking for some of his old magic at the ‘Magic Mile’

Photos: Stewart-Haas Racing
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While the next race on the NASCAR Cup schedule is Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Clint Bowyer is already thinking four months and 17 races ahead to mid-November’s season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Winning a championship is the reason we are in this sport,” the Stewart-Haas Racing driver said in his weekly media release. “It’s why everyone puts in these long hours during a long season.

Winning a championship is what we dreamed about ever since we started racing. It was a great feeling to win the Xfinity title in 2008 and I can’t imagine the feeling of satisfaction you would get by winning a Cup title.”

But Bowyer also knows all too well that to make it to the four-driver, winner-take-all championship-deciding race in South Florida, he has a bit of work to firm up his position just to make the playoffs, which begin in less than two months (September 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway).

Clint Bowyer hopes to be smiling and partying after winning what would be his third career triumph this Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Photo: Stewart-Haas Racing.

Heading to New England, Bowyer is tied for 14th place with seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. Make no mistake about it, neither Bowyer nor Johnson are safe and secure. They’re only eight points ahead of 16th-ranked Erik Jones, 10 points ahead of 17th-ranked Ryan Newman and 12 points ahead of 18th-ranked Daniel Suarez.

But Bowyer is also optimistic about his chances, given he’s only 61 points out of 10th place, currently held by Aric Almirola.

A win would lock Bowyer into the playoffs. That’s why this Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 is so important to the Kansas native.

Of Bowyer’s 10 career Cup wins, two have been at New Hampshire’s “magic mile,” in 2007 and again in 2010 (he also has two wins each at Richmond and Talladega). In addition to those two wins, he also has four top-fives and nine top-10s in 25 career starts at the Speedway Motorsports Inc.’s racetrack.

I love New Hampshire,” Bowyer said. “That place just fits my driving style.

We don’t get up to that part of the country a lot, so it’s good to see the race fans there. They have so many tracks and they love their racing, from Modified to Late Models to our stuff. The support races they put on at New Hampshire are some of the best of the year. Man, do they like to party there.”

Bowyer will be partying himself if he can win Sunday’s race, which would mark his first win of 2019. Still, it’s not been a bad season for Bowyer to date, either. He has five top-5 and four other top-10 finishes.

Bowyer is coming off one of those top-10 showings, finishing sixth at Kentucky last Saturday, a marked improvement from what he suffered through in three of the four previous races with finishes of 35th (Michigan), 37th (Chicagoland) and 34th (Daytona).

We dug ourselves a hole in June and we are trying to climb o ut of it,” Bowyer said. “We aren’t a 16th-place team. I know we are better than that.

I believe we’ll be in the playoffs, but we want to be on a roll when they start. We want that momentum going in. A win this weekend in Loudon makes this summer a lot more fun.”

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NASCAR America: Dale Jarrett on Dale Jr. Download, 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN

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They have the same first name, they have famous racing fathers and they’re both on today’s edition of the Dale Jr. Download on NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. welcomes NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett to this week’s show.

The pair kick back and have swap stories. One of the most notable tales: Jarrett talked about his father Ned’s friendship with Dale Jr.’s grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt.

Jarrett related how the relationship between his father and Ralph hit a rough patch after they had a dust-up in a Sportsman race. The normally mild-mannered Ned was so angry at Ralph that he refused to attend his wife’s baby shower for Dale Sr. because Ralph would also be in attendance.

Ned Jarrett dutifully drove his wife to the shower, but stayed in his car the entire time.

Catch the outcome of that story, as well as many others on today’s edition of NASCAR America.

If you can’t catch today show on TV, watch online 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 enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

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

 

Danielle Trotta new host of NBCSN’s Victory Lap post-race show

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Danielle Trotta will join NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage as host of the “Victory Lap” post-race show for select Cup Series races this year.

Trotta made the announcement Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On Track,” the show she began co-hosting this year with Larry McReynolds.

Trotta has also been with NBC Sports Boston since 2018.

As part of “Victory Lap,” which begins Sunday at 7 p.m. on NBCSN after the Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, fans will be able to call in with questions about the race. Trotta will be joined by AJ Allmendinger and Parker Kligerman this weekend.

“It’ll be fun to continue the conversation,” Trotta said after making the announcement on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I think after the race ends and you hear the driver’s post-race comments and we see the highlights, as a race fan on so many Sundays, I would sit on my couch and want more. I would want more coverage, more conversation, more conjecture and I think that’s exactly what NASCAR “Victory Lap” has always been and will continue to be, and then we take the next step of really wanting the conversation to be interactive and having people call live into the show.”

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Goodyear tire info for NASCAR at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

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Cup and Xfinity Series teams return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend and will compete on new right and left-side tires on the 1.058-mile track.

While the tires will feature the same tread compounds that were run at New Hampshire last year, they will have construction updates to bring this set-up in line with what is run at other tracks. This is the only track at which teams in either of these series will run these two Goodyear tire codes.

As on most NASCAR ovals 1 mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at New Hampshire.

According to a Goodyear press release, because of NHMS’ minimal banking, the track produces minimal load compared to more high-banked tracks. Because of that, grip needs to be generated through the compounds selected in Goodyear’s tire set-up.

Goodyear says both the left and right-side compounds run at New Hampshire are among the highest performing in its tire lineup.

Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, cautioned teams against lowering the air pressure in their left-side tires below the minimum recommended inflation levels of 12 psi.

“Loudon has very little banking, so some teams try to enhance their level of grip by getting aggressive with their air pressures, most notably on the left-side of the car,” Stucker said in the press release. “Our recommended left-side pressures at Loudon are 12 psi, and teams have been known to drop well below that in the race.  Running below our recommendations are always a risk vs. reward proposition.  Air pressure provides structure to a tire, and running too low risks the sidewall over-deflecting early on in a run, which can lead to carcass fatigue and eventually an air loss.”

New Hampshire will treat its track surface with the PJ1 traction compound in all four turns this weekend.

Here’s the tire info for the weekend.

Set limits: Cup: Three sets for practice, one set for qualifying and nine sets for the race (eight race sets plus one set transferred from qualifying or practice);

Xfinity: Six sets for the event

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4922; Right-side — D-4924

Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,226 mm (87.64 in.); Right-side — 2,239 mm (88.15 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front – 12 psi; Left Rear – 12 psi; Right Front – 30 psi; Right Rear – 27 psi

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