A rather uneventful race at Dover International Speedway leaves Jimmie Johnson just eight points behind Championship leader Matt Kenseth.
In a race that started with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the pole ended with Johnson on Victory Lane and Junior finishing a close second, again. Junior led a large portion of the 400-lap race but in the end, his troubles with the entrance of pit road cost him multiple positions and ultimately, the race.
Although a win by Junior would have made the recent weeks’ news seem miniscule, Johnson accomplished something that no other driver has ever done before. He has tackled a monster named Miles eight times, more than any other driver in Cup history. Previously, Johnson tied with legendary drivers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison at seven wins. Surpassing their record solidifies Johnson’s place in history, along with his five straight Championship wins.
“It’s incredible,” he said after the race. “To do anything Bobby or Richard has done is quite an accomplishment. We’ve had a few sneak away from us here, too, over the years. I’m just happy to get that done and be the sole leader of race wins here. It’s a very special day.”
In the opening races of the Chase, Matt Kenseth seemed to dominate, winning the first two races. Johnson and Kenseth’s teammate Kyle Busch are trailing behind, but not by much. After just three races in a ten race Chase, the three drivers are already breaking away from the rest of the field. Johnson sits in second, just eight points behind Kenseth. Busch, sits just 12 points back.
Tied for fourth are Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon, 39 points behind Kenseth. In theory, it is entirely possible for the drivers from Harvick on back to make their way up and win the Championship, but in reality, history says that the big trophy is between the drivers currently ranked one through three.
Will Jimmie Johnson get his 6-pack and be one step closer to his goal of eight Championships? Will Matt Kenseth put the perfect end to the best season of his career and hold up the coveted trophy? Or will Kyle Busch finally achieve his dream of becoming a Sprint Cup Champion? It may be too soon to tell but one thing is for certain, you won’t want to miss a moment of the final seven races.
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 14, 2013) – NASCAR has announced a set of officiating revisions to further reinforce its in-race rules and regulations following a week-long review of events that transpired during last Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway. NASCAR officials met with drivers, owners and crew chiefs this afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway to address these revisions that will take effect beginning with Sunday’s opening race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The revisions focus on assisting the competitors to understand what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in NASCAR’s sole determination when it comes to officiating teams’ racing during an event. NASCAR will issue a technical bulletin to the teams later this afternoon that outlines these revisions. “Today’s technical bulletin addresses the subject of team(s) artificially altering the outcome of a race and the level of reaction that this will receive from NASCAR,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition. “We reinforced this issue to the teams in our meeting earlier today and conveyed what is considered unacceptable in our officiating of the event.” Officiating revisions that were announced and will take effect Sunday are:
· Spotters only on spotters’ stand (one per team)
· Spotters’ stand limits: Two analog radios, scanners, Fan Visions
· Video camera will be installed on spotters’ stand
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In August, Ryan Newman wasn’t sure where his future would lie in NASCAR after he was let go from Stewart-Haas Racing. Today, Richard Childress Racing has made an official announcement that Newman will pilot the No.31 Caterpillar Chevrolet in 2014.
Childress approached Newman during the Daytona 500 about his plans for 2014, reiterating his interest from previous years before Newman joined SHR. After some further discussion with Childress and the organization, Newman is looking forward to the move.
“This is a great opportunity for our team,” Richard Childress told NASCAR.com. “I am very proud to have Ryan in our No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet starting next year. We have high expectations for this No. 31 team. Ryan has proven himself to be a great driver and I’m looking forward to winning races with him. Luke Lambert will be his crew chief and the team is staying together next year. That team is building momentum to not only finish out this year strong, but to get even better in 2014.”
The No.31 seat was vacated last week when current driver Jeff Burton announced he would not be returning to the car next season, releasing him from his contract one year early.
“I’m very pleased Richard and I were able to put this deal together for me to drive RCR’s No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet,” Newman said. “About five years ago, Richard and I talked about me joining RCR before I signed with my current team, but things just didn’t work out. However, we were able to make it happen this time and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my career. RCR has a long history of winning races and championships, and I want to add to that tradition.”
Newman and Childress have signed a three-year deal and additional sponsorship beyond CAT is still being discussed.
No plans for Burton have been announced yet and his free status puts him with another free-status driver, Juan Pablo Montoya.
A full introduction of the announcement was made at 2pm EST Monday via teleconference.
During the teleconference, Newman was asked about his thoughts on Saturday’s race. Newman said that Saturday was “the toughest thing that’s ever happened to me in my 30 years of racing.” As far as Bowyer intentionally spinning in the closing laps?
“My ultimate answer is it’s pretty obvious, the decisions that were made and the communication that led up to that,” Newman said. “Based on my opinion inside the racecar and watching/listening/understanding comm that was there, it was not entirely an accident. I’m very disappointed to see and hear some of things that went down … Not an easy thing to work through, emotionally or physically afterward…It became more disappointing the more we dug into it. It didn’t just affect me. It affected Jeff Gordon, Logano, Truex …” Newman said.”
What does Newman think of MWR? “The potential is not good for us to be cordial to each other” but he will reserve his comments until NASCAR reviews the race and adds that “how NASCAR handles this is extremely important for all of us.”
With Newman’s plans finalized for the foreseeable future, the next 10 races this season will be a testament to his time at SHR. Does Newman deserve to be in the Chase? That is for you to decide but don’t think he is going to lay back the rest of the season. Newman plans to do everything possible to win the next 10 races.
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Silly season is in full swing and the three major NASCAR series have not been short on surprises. So, if you have been a little out of the loop these past few weeks or just need a refresher, I am here to help you out.
Here is what you need to know:
Kurt Busch to SHR: After an impressive season with Furniture Row Racing, Kurt Busch has decided not to renew his contract with the single car team and instead, jump on over to Stewart-Haas Racing. Busch will drive a fourth car for the organization joining co-owner/driver Tony Stewart, Rookie Danica Patrick, and fellow newcomer Kevin Harvick. Haas Automation will sponsor Busch’s ride, the company owned and ran by SHR co-owner Gene Haas. The deal came together rather quickly and no crew chief or car number has been named yet.
Montoya Out, Larson In: Since coming in to NASCAR, Juan Pablo Montoya has been mediocre at best and it seems like Earnhardt Ganassi Racing wanted a change. Deciding to part ways, Montoya will not be returning to EGR in 2014. Instead, Nationwide Series Rookie Kyle Larson will pilot the No.42 Target Chevrolet full time next season after just one season in NNS. Where Montoya will end up is anybody’s guess. Will he stay in NASCAR? Move to IndyCar? Lips are pretty sealed as to where he will go. Rumors of a deal with Furniture Row Racing have surfaced but nothing has been officially announced yet.
Burton out at RCR: The most recent announcement came from Richard Childress Racing when they announced on Wednesday that Jeff Burton would no longer drive the No.31 CAT Chevrolet in 2014. Burton, whose contract was set through 2014, made a deal with Childress to leave a season early after sponsorship didn’t come together. With the departure of Kevin Harvick (see above), and the addition of Childress’s grandson Austin Dillon, that leaves one veteran driver on the team, Paul Menard. Plans to fill the No.31 seat will be named at a later date but the most sought-after driver on the market is Ryan Newman.
Stewart Out in 2013: Okay, so this may be old news, but Tony Stewart is out for the remainder of the 2013 season. Stewart made his first public appearance on Tuesday, a month after breaking his leg in a Sprint Car accident in Iowa. Stewart, who has been replaced by Mark Martin in the No.14 Chevrolet, spoke about his recovery process and rehabilitation. Thankfully, no more surgery is in store for the 3-time Champion but intense rehab will start shortly. In a press conference that lasted well over an hour, Stewart answered questions about his future on dirt and on the pavement. In short, Stewart does plan on returning to Sprint Cars as soon as possible but won’t run such a vigorous schedule. Unfortunately, his doctors estimate that he won’t be back in the No.14 until early February, which means, Daytona testing is (so far) out of the question for Stewart. Martin will be on hand for the remainder of the season (ex. Talladega) to drive the No.14.
Vickers and Allmendinger Go Full Time: It was announced in 2012 that Brian Vickers would take over the No.55 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Michael Waltrip Racing full time in 2014. With Tony Stewart’s injury and Mark Martin taking over the duties of driving the No.14, Vickers is getting much needed seat time in his future ride. With one win already this season in his part-time stint , Vickers will be well prepared for his full-time ride in the Sprint Cup Series. A.J. Allmendinger, who lost his ride in the No.22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford for Penske Racing after failing a drug test, is getting a second chance. Allmendinger will be the new driver of the No.47 for JTG Daugherty Racing, replacing Bobby Labonte.
Childers and Martin to SHR: Rodney Childers, former Crew Chief for the No.55 Aaron’s Dream Machine, has left Michael Waltrip Racing and joined the team at Stewart-Haas Racing. Childers will be on top of the pit box for Kevin Harvick as Harvick moves to SHR, driving the No.4 Chevrolet. Mark Martin, who is filling in for an injured Tony Stewart, will return to SHR in 2014, but not as a driver. Martin, a veteran in the Cup Series, will be the driving coach for 2013 Rookie Danica Patrick. Patrick, who is still transitioning from IndyCar to NASCAR, will get some much needed advice and guidance in the set-up of her car. Does that mean Martin will be out of the car for good? With Martin, you never really know.
The Dillon’s are Moving Up: Austin Dillon, the 2011 Trucks Series Champion, will be moving up to the Sprint Cup Series full time in 2014. Rumored to be bringing back the famed No.3, Dillon will pilot the car for his grandfather’s team, Richard Childress Racing. With multiple starts in the Cup Series, including a stint in the No.14 for SHR, Dillon has shown a lot of promise and would bring the No.3 back into the series with pride and honor. The youngest Dillon brother will be on his way up to the Nationwide Series in 2014. Currently competing for the Camping World Truck Series Championship, Ty Dillon will take over his older brother’s vacated ride. Watch out, it won’t be long before we have two sets of brothers in the Sprint Cup Series.
Now, if you feel a bit overwhelmed after reading all of that, then you are not alone. This silly season and frankly, all of 2013, has been filled with unforeseen news and shocking announcements. Be prepared for more because the season isn’t over yet!
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