Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jimmie Johnson Makes Cover of Sports Illustrated

It takes talent to profile Jimmie Johnson and leave the reader actually liking him. Yet that's exactly what Lars Anderson does in SI this week, and I've been lucky enough to receive the story before it hits newsstands. Here are an excerpt I enjoyed, along with the cover:

Away from the track, team owner Rick Hendrick says, "nobody has more fun than Jimmie." The ultimate guy's guy, according to one of his close friends, Noah Lazes, an event planner in Charlotte, who offers this snapshot: On the morning of the AFC and NFC championship games two years ago Jimmie phoned him in Charlotte: "You want to have a man day and go see the NFL games?"

"Uh, games, plural?" responded Lazes.

"Come on," Jimmie said. "Two guys, two games, one airplane and a bottle of Goose. Let's go."

An hour later they were airborne in Jimmie's six-seat Gulfstream G450, heading from Charlotte, where the Johnsons own a 12,000-square-foot house, to Chicago for the Saints-Bears kickoff. Then they flew to Indianapolis to watch the Patriots play the Colts. "The thing you've got to realize about Jimmie is that his success has afforded him the chance to do amazing things," Lazes says. "As serious as he is at the track, he's as fun-loving away from it. I wish more people saw that side."

Hendrick saw that side a few days after the 2006 season, when Jimmie called to report that he'd just had an "accident" while playing in a charity golf tournament in Lecanto, Fla. Full of an afternoon's worth of liquid courage, Jimmie had hopped on the back of a friend's moving golf cart, climbed onto the roof (at the full-throated urging of spectators) and pretended he was surfing. The improbable target proved too tempting for players in the following group, who began hitting golf balls at Jimmie. One of the balls startled the driver of the cart; he swerved, sending the surfer tumbling onto the fairway. Jimmie split his lip and broke his left wrist.

The injuries didn't cause him to miss a race, but Jimmie feared he might have lost the respect of his fans and the support of his sponsor, Lowe's. (Not the case at all.) "I can be a jackass," he says. "I sometimes wish people could hear the voices in my head because there's some crazy-ass s‑‑‑ in my brain."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Championship Linkage - Nationwide

Thanks once again to the folks at Nationwide, who provide the final interview of the 2008 racing season with champion Clint Bowyer. You can check that out here.

Also, don't forget that the #20 Joe Gibbs Toyota finished the season as the owner's points champion by 12 points over Bowyer's #2 team. The #20 team won a staggering 9 races, and finished the year with 26 top-10 finishes. The margin would have been much larger if not for a 150-point penalty following the Michigan race. perhaps most impressively, the #20 was driven by Joey Logano for half the season, and still managed to win the owner's title. For some reason, I've seen no stories about this feat. It mattered in 2003 and in 2007, but what's the reason against celebrating them this year? I'd like to know.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jimmie Johnson Makes History

I'll give him his due. The Lowes #48 team has figured out how to win a championship with this format. I'll give more thoughts later this week, but they won't be about Jimmie Johnson. The rest of the media will write enough fluff pieces to suffocate a polar bear.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Truck Series Lineup

Skinner, Braun, Harvick, Hornaday, and Setzer make up the top 5. Benson rolls off in 8th.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Red Bull This Weekend For Mark Martin

Updating the post yesterday, Chevy told Mark he won't be driving the #84 this weekend after all. Among the options being considered are putting Vickers in the #84 and Speed in the #83 this weekend, putting Skinner in the #84, or some other driver shuffle. The entry list still has the #82 with driver TBA, so we'll see, I guess.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Last Chase Column For On Pit Row

Check it out here.

Looks Like Red Bull To Have 3 Entries @ Homestead

Nothing official yet except the mention from the Sirius show, but Red Bull looks to have 3 cars at Homestead in the finale this week with Brian Vickers in the #83, Mark Martin in the #84, and Scott Speed in the #82. Martin will try and put the #84 back in the top 35 for next season and Speed gets to attempt another race (he originally planned on running the #82 at Lowes) which will only help. The second car next season will also switch to #82 from #84.

Want To Watch Dale Earnhardt's 10 Greatest Wins Whenever You Want?

Then do I have an offer for you!

The folks at A&E Home Video have done it again, this time collecting 10 races to watch and experience the joy all over again. These races include the 1995 races at Sonoma and the Brickyard, his first wins at both a road course and on the history Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It has his triumph in the 1998 Daytona 500 as well his final win in what I consider to be one of the greatest races in history, the 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega. The list price for this 5-disc set is $39.95 but I have been given an extra set - and I'm giving it away to a TCS reader.

To win, we're going to play some trivia. Tell me, either in a comment or in an email, how many years did Dale Earnhardt run a special paint scheme in The Winston. Bonus points if you can name every scheme. If we're still tied after that, I have one more question in the bag. The winner will be notified on Nov. 19, so have your entries in by Nov. 18 at 11:59 PM.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

A.J. Allmendinger Continues Strong Runs

I don't know how A.J. Allmendinger is still without a ride in the Sprint Cup Series. A.J. has turned in solid performance after solid performance since taking the wheel of the #10 GEM Dodge and yet there is still no word of what he will be doing for 2009. Look at his finishes in the four races in the #10:

Martinsville - 15th
Atlanta - 14th
Texas - 26th (but ran in the top 15)
Phoenix - 16th

Not only that, but he also drove the #9 GEM Nationwide car to a top 12 finish at Phoenix as well. Allmendinger has proved that given the equipment, he can compete with anyone. Look at the situation, how does GEM not keep him in the car for the future? They've already signed Reed Sorenson but honestly, do you think Reed would be doing what A.J. is right now in the car? Allmendinger's outdriving Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler every race. Come on, Gillett, keep Allmendinger in the car. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Truck Race Craziness!

Turn 3 of the first lap, Ron Hornaday gets loose and spins out, getting absolutely nailed in the process, and Johnny Benson even got a piece of the action! Hornaday sits in the garage trying to fix the myriad problems on his truck, while Benson has mainly cosmetic damage. This is huge, and it just adds one more twist to the championship in this series.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yeah, I Know...

Been a while. Things are busy on my end, but if Edwards turns in another win at Phoenix this could really get interesting. As coach said in American Pie, you don't score... until you score. Jimmie hasn't scored yet.