Page 2 for the week of 09-22-2014

The First Reid: Johnson likely to make statement at Dover

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

To a trucker, the “rocking chair” is a comfortable place to ride between the lead truck in a convoy and the 18-wheeler bringing up the rear

Figuratively speaking, that’s where six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has been running for the past two weeks.

In relative terms, Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet has been invisible in the first two Chase races. Why? Because Johnson has avoided the problems that have beset the majority of his Chase rivals.

Johnson ran an inconspicuous 12th at Chicago. At the Magic Mile on Sunday, he finished fifth. Those two results combined have him in a comfortable position—fourth in the Chase standings—approaching next Sunday’s elimination race at Dover.

As nondescript as Johnson’s recent results have been, so has the chatter of a potential record-tying seventh championship subsided to a murmur.

Perhaps that’s the way Johnson prefers it. When it comes to tying a monumental record shared by icons Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, perhaps it’s best to fly beneath the radar for as long as possible.

Dover, however, is likely to be the phone booth that facilitates Johnson’s transformation from Clark Kent to Superman, whether he likes it or not. He has nine career wins at the Monster Mile, including the two most recent races.

As much as he might like to remain incognito until crunch time in the Chase, Johnson may find it difficult to resist the urge to turn the rocking chair into a rocket ship on the high-banked concrete cliffs of Dover.

@nascarcasm

To prepare for this race, Chad Knaus carefully studied the notes he took from the New Hampshire race earlier in the year. They read as follows…

To prepare for this race, Chad Knaus carefully studied the notes he took from the New Hampshire race earlier in the year. They read as follows…

We know that cautions supposedly breed cautions, but come on, drivers – this was like the “19 Kids And Counting” of races.

Good luck to Joe Gibbs. He was probably hoping for a thorough and productive team meeting this week. Now he’s just hoping the drivers don’t bitterly hurl HANS devices at each other.

Congratulations to Cole Custer, who at 16 became the youngest winner in Camping World Truck Series history on Saturday. He was not handed the traditional lobster in victory lane, because it was unfortunately not on the kids’ menu.

(Follow @nascarcasm on Twitter. His unique views on NASCAR are his own – but chances are you have probably figured that out by now.)

NASCAR NUMBERS

By Reid Spencer­

­­ 8.4: Jimmie Johnson’s average finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway. Though Johnson has a personal-best nine wins at the Monster Mile, there are three other tracks where he’s achieved better average finishes: Martinsville (5.2), Phoenix (6.3) and Fontana (6.6).

12: The series-best number of top-five finishes recorded in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season by Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Small wonder they’re currently the two leading drivers in the Chase standings, each with a victory in the first two Chase races.

1,369: The number of laps led by Kevin Harvick in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season, far and away a career best. That’s the good news. The bad? The driver known as “The Closer” has failed to close the deal in the last four races in which he has led the most laps, at Kansas, Michigan, Atlanta and, most recently, on Sunday at New Hampshire.

12: The number of points separating Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards (tied for eighth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings) from 16th-place Aric Almirola. With such a small margin blanketing the last nine drivers in the standings, fans can expect a free-for-all in next Sunday’s elimination race at Dover.

3: The average finish of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his last five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover. No wonder Junior said on Sunday that the Monster Mile is a great track for the No. 88 team. But that hasn’t always been the case. Earnhardt’s average result in the eight races before the current streak of five was 22.5.

NASCAR NOTES

With victories in four of the last five races, Team Penkse drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have asserted the racing outfit as the organization to beat moving forward in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Keselowki (5) and Logano (4) lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins and have each locked themselves into the Contender Round with victories in the first two Chase races.  … Jimmie Johnson heads to Dover looking to add to his track-record of nine wins, five more than the next highest active driver, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. The No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet driver has won the last two events at Dover and owns 13 top-five (52%) and 18 top-10 (72%) finishes in 25 Monster Mile starts. … Championship contenders have one more race, this Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, to qualify for the 12-driver Contender Round in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Denny Hamlin (-6 behind 12th), Greg Biffle (-6), Kurt Busch (-8) and Aric Almirola (-10) all trail 12th-place Ryan Newman for the final spot in points, but can automatically qualify with a win at the one-mile concrete oval.

Tune-In: NASCAR On Television, September 22-28

Monday, September 22

4:30 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Tuesday, September 23

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

7:30 p.m., Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Wednesday, September 24

Noon, NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Kern (re-air),

FOX Sports 1

3 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Race at New Hampshire (re-air), FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

7:30 p.m., The 10 NASCAR’s Most Bizarre Moments (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Thursday, September 25

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

Friday, September 26                                            

10 a.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice,

FOX Sports 1

11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

2 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice, ESPN2

3:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, ESPN2

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

4 a.m. (Sat.), The 10 Greatest Families in NASCAR History (re-air), FOX Sports 1

4:30 a.m. (Sat.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 1

Saturday, September 27

10 a.m., NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Race at New Hampshire, FOX Sports 1

11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

Noon, NASCAR Nationwide Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 2

1:30 p.m., Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship (re-air), FOX Sports 2

2 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice,

FOX Sports 2

3:30 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Dover, ESPN2

10 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Las Vegas, FOX Sports 1

Sunday, September 28

9 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 1

Noon, NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 1

1 p.m., NSCS Countdown, ESPN

2 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Dover, ESPN

5 p.m., Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Race at Austin, FOX Sports 1

7 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1

1 a.m. (Mon.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Dover (re-air), ESPN2

3 a.m. (Mon.), NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Dover (re-air), FOX Sports 1

5 a.m. (Mon.), NASCAR Victory Lane (re-air), FOX Sports 1

5:30 a.m. (Mon.), The 10 NASCAR’s Greatest Races,

FOX Sports 1

 

National Series Schedule

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

The Next Race:AAA 400

The Place:Dover International Speedway

The Date/Time:Sunday, Sept. 28, 2 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES

The Next Race:NASCAR Nationwide Series September Dover Race

The Place:Dover International Speedway

The Date/Time:Saturday, Sept. 27, 3:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN 2

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

The Next Race:Rhino Linings 350

The Place:Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Date/Time:Saturday, Sept. 27, 10 p.m. (ET)

TV: FOX Sports 1

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR National Series Standings

This year, wins matter more than in any season in the 65-year history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

In the regular season, a win essentially locked a driver into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and gave him three bonus points to start the first round. During the Chase, a driver can automatically advance to the subsequent round with a victory.

At the start of the Challenger Round, driver points were reset to 2,000 with their bonus points added. The four winless drivers with the least points following the third Chase race at Dover will be eliminated from championship contention.

*Advanced to Challenger Round with win

Chase Standings
Pos     Driver                     Points

1        Brad Keselowski*   2,097

2        Joey Logano*          2,096

3        Kevin Harvick          2,090

4        Jimmie Johnson      2,080

5        Kyle Busch               2,077

6        Dale Earnhardt Jr.  2,077

7        Jeff Gordon             2,070

8        Matt Kenseth          2,057

9        Carl Edwards           2,057

10     AJ Allmendinger     2,056

11     Kasey Kahne           2,055

12     Ryan Newman         2,055

13     Denny Hamlin         2,049

14     Greg Biffle               2,049

15     Kurt Busch               2,047

16     Aric Almirola           2,045

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Pos        Driver                 Points

1      Chase Elliott #              992

2      Regan Smith                 972

3      Ty Dillon #                    954

4      Brian Scott                    937

5      Elliott Sadler                 931

6      Trevor Bayne               900

7      Chris Buescher #         817

8      Brendan Gaughan       798

9      Ryan Reed #                 739

10   James Buescher          727

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Pos    Driver                      Points

1        Matt Crafton               602

2        Johnny Sauter             595

3        Ryan Blaney                578

4        Darrell Wallace Jr.     567

5        German Quiroga        530

6        Joey Coulter                527

7        Ben Kennedy #           509

8        Timothy Peters           508

9        Jeb Burton                   491

10     Ron Hornaday Jr.        460

 

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