Conor Daly

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Jimmie Johnson hopes for ‘more crossover’ between auto racing stars

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For one day last November, Jimmie Johnson was the envy of the NASCAR community.

A week after the end of the Cup season, the seven-time Cup champion swapped rides with Formula One star Fernando Alonso and piloted a F1 car around the Bahrain International Circuit.

It was the third such swap between NASCAR and F1 drivers following the Jeff Gordon-Juan Pablo Montoya switch in 2003 at Indianapolis and the Tony Stewart-Lewis Hamilton swap in 2011 at Watkins Glen.

On Tuesday, Johnson expressed a desire to see “more crossover” between auto racing’s elite in competitive circumstances and to see stars moonlighting to support smaller series.

“I just think that in motorsports in general, we need guys to cross over from a local level,” Johnson said during Hendrick Motorsports’ media day after being asked about NASCAR’s influence in the Chili Bowl Nationals. “Although the Chili Bowl is huge, but they’re Midgets and more people typically get their starts (at that level).

“Our stars come back down and run and put on such a great show. That helps them and I think it helps us. It also helps that community and there are a lot of young drivers that are trying to find their way up.”

The Chili Bowl, held last week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was won by Xfinity Series driver Christopher Bell for the third straight year. He had to battle Cup driver Kyle Larson in the final feature, with the outcome being decided with a last-lap pass.

Johnson then turned to the major racing series and the lack of crossover between them in recent years.

“Hopefully we can get more crossover going, even between IndyCar and NASCAR or NASCAR and Formula 1 or whatever it might be,” Johnson said. “I feel like we had a lot of heroes that we looked up to and those guys would race anything and everything.

“And in the last 20 or 30 years, we’ve focused more on championships than we have marquee events. And I completely understand why, but it’s really nice to see people trying to move around and race other things. Hopefully we’ll have somebody trying the double again at Indy and Charlotte. There is a lot of good that comes from those opportunities.”

Kurt Busch was the last driver to attempt “The Double” of competing in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day in 2014.

The prospect of Larson, who competes for Chip Ganassi Racing, making the attempt has been brought up on a somewhat regular basis in recent years with Larson saying in July 2017 that violent IndyCar wrecks at IMS have kept him from committing to it.

Kyle Busch said in July 2017 he had committed to make an attempt at The Double before it was shut down by Joe Gibbs.

In 2016, Brad Keselowski teased everyone when he took a few laps around Road America in a Team Penske IndyCar during a test.

There were crossovers between IndyCar and NASCAR in 2018 with Danica Patrick competing in the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 and a Xfinity Series start by Conor Daly at Road America.

Other than that, the list of drivers who have expressed an interest in making the jump from open-wheel to stock cars without fulfilling it gets longer every year.

That goes both ways. In November, Johnson expressed a desire in giving IndyCar a try on road courses.

But Johnson said he doesn’t have any forays into other series planned right now.

“I have some great new friends at McLaren and they have lots of things getting involved with racing-wise,” Johnson said. “So, down the road there could be some opportunities there for me potentially. I’d love to go endurance racing with Fernando (Alonso).

“We joked about that some. Nothing has developed from that yet, but hopefully down the road we can send some more teasers out and have some more fun.”

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When NASCAR, IndyCar drivers compete at Chili Bowl

Chili Bowl Nationals
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The Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals begin today in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The event lasts six days and culminates in the championship feature Saturday.

Xfinity Series driver Christopher Bell will attempt to win his third straight title in the Chili Bowl. In the field of more than 350 hopefuls, there will be 12 other drivers with NASCAR or IndyCar ties, including Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne and Alex Bowman.

PODCAST: Christopher Bell talks Chili Bowl, rivalry with Kyle Larson

Here is the schedule of preliminary races this week that include drivers with NASCAR and IndyCar ties.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Chase Briscoe

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Kyle Larson
Alex Bowman
Tanner Berryhill

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

JJ Yeley
Landon Cassill
Conor Daly (IndyCar)
Rico Abreu

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Justin Allgaier
Christopher Bell
Karsyn Elledge (Kelley Earnhardt-Miller’s daughter)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Kasey Kahne
Tanner Thorson

Click here for the complete list.

NASCAR drivers highlight each night of Chili Bowl action

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The 33rd annual Chili Bowl Nationals is scheduled to begin in less than two weeks and the preliminary nightly roster has been released.

With more than 350 cars on the entry list, qualification heats will be run from January 14-18 at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event concludes January 19 with the Chili Bowl Nationals.

Drivers with a NASCAR connection will compete each night. Chase Briscoe kicks off the show on Jan. 14 and Kasey Kahne highlights the Jan. 18 roster.

After winning a Midget race in New Zealand, Kyle Larson will run Jan. 15.

Christopher Bellwho won in Sprints last week in New Zealand – is scheduled to race on Jan. 17.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Chase Briscoe

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Kyle Larson
Alex Bowman
Tanner Berryhill

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

JJ Yeley
Landon Cassill
Conor Daly (IndyCar)
Rico Abreu

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Justin Allgaier
Christopher Bell
Karsyn Elledge (Kelley Earnhardt-Miller’s daughter)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Kasey Kahne
Tanner Thorson

Click here for the complete list.

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Justin Allgaier wins Xfinity race at Road America; Bill Elliott places 20th

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Justin Allgaier won the Johnsonville 180 at Road America, continuing a career year with his fourth victory.

Allgaier led 14 laps and the final seven under green after passing James Davison on a restart in Turn 8.

The top five was completed by Matt Tifft, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Elliott Sadler.

James Davison and Justin Marks were competing for second with three laps to go when they made contact and spun in Turn 8.

“The restart there, he kind of left before I did and the 2 (Matt Tifft) gave me a shot … he thought (Davison) was going. I spun the tires really bad after I got hit. I thought I gave it away and when he made the mistake down in (Turn) 8 I just knew I had to be smooth and fast.”

Allgaier has won two of the season’s first three road course races after winning at Mid-Ohio. He placed third at Watkins Glen.

Allgaier came back to win after he and Christopher Bell knocked each other off track on Lap 27.

The race also featured Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, who finished 20th despite being involved in two incidents.

“I feel like I hit everything but the lottery,” Elliott told NBCSN. “It was a great day. … It was a heck of a lot of fun. I just felt like I needed more through (Turns) 9 and 10, the carousel, to carry any speed through there. I feel like I just gave up too much in like (Turn) 3. I was not too bad in (Turns) 5, 6, 7, 8. But it seemed like the carousel, I got a little bit free down into (Turn) 11. But all in all I enjoyed it, I had a good time.”

Elliott said “I doubt it” when asked if he’d race again.

“This was a lot of fun, a good time,” Elliott said. “I felt like I held my own pretty good for where I’m at in my career and what I was trying to do.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Matt Tifft

STAGE 2 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

MORE: Race results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Matt Tifft earned his career-best finish in his 67th start … Ross Chastain finished seventh for his second-best result of the season. He earned his sixth top-10 finish of 2018, his most ever in a single season. … Elliott Sadler earned his first top five since the July race at Daytona … Katherine Legge placed 14th in her second NASCAR start, bouncing back from a spin on Lap 24.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ryan Reed was eliminated after he wrecked on a Lap 7 restart in Turn 2 … Austin Cindric was eliminated when his engine expired on Lap 15, right as Daniel Hemric passed him for the lead … Tyler Reddick finished 34th after a fluid leak forced him to retire … Josh Bilicki wrecked out with eight laps to go, plowing into a tire barrier in the Canada Corner.

NOTABLE: Cole Custer, Elliott Sadler and Daniel Hemric locked themselves into the playoffs on points … Conor Daly finished 31st in his series debut due to mechanical issues.

POST-RACE INSPECTION: Cole Custer had one unsecured lug nut.

WHAT’S NEXT: VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 1 on NBC

 

Matt Tifft wins Xfinity pole at Road America; Bill Elliott qualifies 23rd

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Matt Tifft will start first in today’s Xfinity Series race at Road America (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN) after winning his second career pole.

Tifft earned the pole with a speed of 109.307 mph around the road course. His previous pole was in 2016 at Talladega.

“It felt really good,” Tifft told NBCSN. “This is kind of cool, back-to-back poles, got it in the Trans-Am race and got this. Just a great job all weekend so far … Had a really good run here last year in both the Xfinity and ARCA races. We’ve been close here so many times and this piece has just been great all weekend.”

Cole Custer will start second (109.294 mph).

The top five is completed by Joe Gibbs Racing’s James Davison, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Justin Marks and Christopher Bell.

Justin Allgaier will start 11th after he went off track during his run in the final round. His No. 7 Chevrolet was undamaged.

Daniel Hemric did not make a lap in the final round and will start 12th.

Hall of Famer Bill Elliott will start 23rd in GMS Racing’s No. 23 Chevrolet.

Conor Daly will start 15th in his NASCAR debut.

Click here for the results.