Jimmie Johnson: Athletes have ‘a right to share our opinion’


Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson says athletes have “a right to share our opinion” on social matters instead of sticking to sports as some would suggest.

Athletes have exerted greater power this year in speaking out against social injustices and acting upon those matters. The Milwaukee Bucks refused to leave the locker room for their NBA playoff game Wednesday night to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The action by the Bucks sparked a reaction throughout the sports world. The NBA, WNBA did not play Thursday and are not playing Friday. Some Major League Baseball games were not played this week. The NHL playoffs were not held Thursday and Friday. MLS games were postponed. 

MORE: Not by choice, but by necessity: Activism halts sports world 

Johnson said Friday that drivers have had some conversations with each other and NASCAR about a response to the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Cup Series races Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

“I know many, including myself, are extremely disturbed from what we saw in Kenosha,” Johnson said.

Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver competing in the Cup Series, stated in a series of tweets Thursday night that by NASCAR “continuing to race this weekend DOES NOT mean we are stepping down and turning away from the dark and evil acts that have taken place over our nation.”

Asked Friday about how athletes have become more vocal and active in social matters, Johnson gave this response:

“These are changing times. I know many don’t want to see the opinions of the athletes and they want the sport to be the sport and the athletes just to be quiet. I think there’s been so much going on over a long, long period of time and various topics as well. We have an opinion. Athletes have an opinion. We have a right to share our opinion.

“I think with age I’ve become more comfortable to share my opinion. As I learn more about various issues, my own emotions come into play and I’m led to have different conversations or use my platforms in a different way to focus our foundation and some of the work it does in a different direction.

“We all have our own journey with it all. I think we definitely all have that right and should not be judged to have that right. There are just changing times. A big election year and a lot of different opinions. My opinion, a country more divided than I’ve ever seen or experienced in my lifetime. So it’s an important time in everyone’s life right now.

“I feel like the younger generation is watching and learning and I’m very encouraged by watching my kids and the way our school is teaching them to learn to have an opinion, to really educate themselves on various topics.

“At times I’m discouraged by where we sit as a nation and as a world and just how divided we all are, but then when I see my kids and their questions and their genuine concern about the future of  our country, our environment of racial inequality issues, gender related issues, I do become encouraged. To hear a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old weigh in on some conversations really has blown my mind.

“I do have some optimism for the future. Clearly, it’s a critical point in time right now for us all. It’s a big topic in a journey that is not going to resolve any time soon for generations to come.”

Tyler Reddick, who was among the first Cup drivers to be outspoken on social media about racial injustices this year, also shared his opinion about athletes playing a larger role in social and racial matters.

“It’s important for us as athletes, kind of like what Jimmie said earlier, some people feel like we just need to stick to sports and talk sports and live and breathe it, but we are human beings,” Reddick said. “It’s our right to share how we feel about certain things. For me, the issues have been going on are things that we need to keep improving upon. It’s great to see athletes and individuals come together like they have and really take a stand for something like that.

“For us in NASCAR, I can’t speak for NASCAR I guess, but we will continue to search and figure out our way of continuing to go down that path. We really did a lot of good things to be inclusive as we kind of got our year back rolling and we continue to go down this path this year. We’ve taken a lot of the steps that are good and in the right direction.

“I’m encouraged that we’ve been going down that path and I’m excited to see where that path continues to take us. It’s truly moving to see those athletes and individuals stand up for that, take that stand. There’s more to life than sports. There always will be.”

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NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.