Showing posts with label Sprint Cup Series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sprint Cup Series. Show all posts
Jimmir Johnson Seven Trophies

Seven. Times.
Richard Petty. Dale Earnhardt. Jimmie Johnson. The Hendrick driver joined elite company on Sunday, as he claimed a historic seventh Cup Championship - joining the two Hall of Famers as the only drivers to accomplish such a feat. "I was driving the same race cars for the same team as Jimmie and getting beat by Jimmie," said former teammate Jeff Gordon. "To me, he’s the best I’ve ever seen." It didn't come easy for Johnson, who worked his way up from the back of the field before claiming the lead during the final overtime restart in NASCAR's thrilling season finale. "Just beyond words," said Johnson.  "Just didn't think the race was unfolding for us like we needed to do to be the champs, but we just kept our heads in the game."

Joe Gibbs Racing

Twelve wins, 3,769 laps led, four Chase drivers, and two in the Championship 4. Yes it was Jimmie Johnson hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy on Sunday night, but 2016 could be remembered as the year Joe Gibbs Racing established itself as a premier team in NASCAR. Their historic season propelled Toyota to their first ever manufacturer's title in the Cup series, snapping Chevrolet's 13-year winning streak. If you throw in the accomplishments of alliance member Martin Truex Jr. (another four wins and season-high 1,809 laps led), his future teammate Erik Jones, and an XFINITY Series Champion in Daniel Suarez - what team has a brighter future?

Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson

Speaking of futures, 2016 proved that NASCAR has a promising one. The 2016 Chase field saw four newbies all under the age of 27. Rookies Chase Elliott (20) and Chris Buescher (24) joined Austin Dillon (26) and Kyle Larson (24) as first-time Chase competitors, with Elliott advancing to the Round of 12 and Larson having arguably the best car at the Championship race in Homestead. Rookie Ryan Blaney (22) had a strong campaign with nine Top-10 finishes, while Team Penske's Joey Logano (26), has established himself as one of the sport's most dangerous drivers with nine wins over the past two years and a Championship 4 run in 2016. Furniture Row Racing signed Erik Jones (20) to a full-time Cup ride in 2017, and his XFINITY Series teammate Daniel Suarez (24) took home the XFINITY Series Championship. Watch out next year, folks, these youngsters mean business.  

2017 and beyond

This season was definitely one for the books, punctuated by Denny Hamlin's historic start at the Daytona 500 and Jimmie Johnson's historic finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And while the sun has barely set on the 2016 season, already the NASCAR landscape is beginning to change. What will the Cup Series look like without Tony Stewart? How will his team, Stewart-Haas Racing, perform with their transition to Ford? Will 2016 go down as a career year for Joe Gibbs Racing - or just the beginning of something more? After a 12-year run with the sport, who will replace Sprint as the Cup Series sponsor? We won't have to wait long to find out - the 2017 Daytona 500 is just 95 days away.
Just another day in the desert for Kevin Harvick, who has now won five of the last six contests at Phoenix International Raceway. The 2014 Champion edged out Carl Edwards by a mere .010 seconds, the same margin of Denny Hamlin's victory or Martin Truex Jr. in the Daytona 500. ""I knew I needed to get a good run off the (final) corner and that I was going to have to get into his door. And it worked out, just barely," said Harvick. It was Harvick's eighth win at the track- extending his own record in NASCAR's top series.

Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney have impressed so far in their young careers.

When we were in Daytona for Speedweeks at the season's start- there was a lot of chatter surrounding the exciting 2016 rookie class. Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney proved why on Sunday by each finishing inside the top-10 in the Good Sam 500. "My guys have been bringing such fast race cars to the racetrack every week since Daytona, and I haven't been doing a very good job of getting the finishes that they deserve," said Elliott. It was the first time since October 2014 that two rookies finished inside the top 10. The race was Blaney's second consecutive top 10.

Kyle Busch not satisfied with success so far in 2016

He's led in every race this season. He's finished inside the top-5 in every race this season. But the defending NASCAR champion hasn't come away with a win in any race this season- and he's not having it. “You could be happy with top-five and you could be happy with running up front and doing those things," said Kyle Busch “Those are the things you're supposed to do, but ultimately we've got to get to Victory Lane." Busch is currently tied with Sunday's race winner, Kevin Harvick, atop the NASCAR points standings, but for someone who earned five victories in 25 starts during last season's championship run, he's ready for the wins to start flowing in.

The low downforce package should shine in California

Asphalt baking under the California sun has led to some excellent on-track action in Fontana, and NASCAR's low downforce package should only make things even more exciting. As the race goes on and the track gets slick, fans can expect to see quite a show on Sunday. Kyle Busch, who's excelled racing with the new package at each stop this season, could be due for his third Fontana win in four years on Sunday.

Jimmie Johnson ties Dale Earnhardt for all0time career wins 

The career accolades on Jimmie Johnson's Wikipedia page already rivaled that of the all-time great athletes. Six-time champion (territory Michael Jordan is familiar with), five-time Driver of the Year (Mickey Mantle had three MVP awards) and he's the only driver to have qualified for the Chase every year since it's inception in 2004 (the kind postseason run Bill Belichick is familiar with). But with his win Sunday, Johnson found himself in truly hallowed company- tying Dale Earnhardt Sr. with 76 career Cup wins. "I don't have a problem calling him the best of this generation even as a competitor of his and having to go out there and race against him,"said Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Drivers had glowing reviews of the on-track action in Atlanta

NASCAR debuted its new low downforce package at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in Atlanta on Sunday- and the drivers loved it. "We were sideways, sliding around, the cars were moving," said Joey Logano, started 27th but raced his way into the top five without a caution. "This is real racing. We're driving hard. That's a tough race and just a lot of fun," said Carl Edwards, who finished fifth on Sunday.

The new downforce package reminds Brad Keselowski of the 70's

Almost every driver had glowing reviews of how their cars handled with the new downforce package in Atlanta, noting how it felt like a throwback to the racing of yesteryear. None were more explicit in their comparison than Brad Keselowski, who suggested the racing style might even inspire a new look for the Penske driver. "That race felt like I was in 1975.  That was kind of awesome.  I should grow my sideburns out after that one." We decided to see what it'd look like if he did, and we think he could pull it off.

Kevin Harvick dominated the West Coast swing last season.

NASCAR kicks off it's West Coast swing this weekend in Vegas, and eyes will be on Kevin Harvick to see if he can replicate last season's run. The No. 4 dominated the desert in 2015, leading 366 laps between wins at Vegas and Phoenix before snagging a second-place finish in Fontana. With two top-10's to start the season (including an impressive fourth-place run in Daytona) the 2014 Sprint Cup Champion could be poised to make a return trip to Victory Lane this weekend.

Wow. Just. Wow.
A star-studded show culminating with the closes finish in Daytona 500 history (0.010 seconds). Now THATS how you get the party started. Check out all that went down in the exciting kickoff to the 2016 NASCAR season.

2016 Daytona 500

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All three series were on track Friday, and here's some of the best of what we saw:

2016 NextEra Energy Resources 250

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We were down in the Daytona garages this morning, and as the teams were getting ready for the action later this weekend, we got a little caught up in some of the paint schemes you'll see this weekend. Here's a few that caught our eye:

Chase Elliott
It's going to take some time to get used to seeing any name other than "Jeff Gordon" on the car, but the Daytona 500 pole winner's ride is looking fresh. We're just happy to see the No. 24 still burning rubber.

Erik Jones
Anyone else getting hungry? The 2015 Camping World Truck Series champion has a full-time XFINITY Series ride for the upcoming season. The paint-out for the Powershares QQQ 300 satisfies our craving for more Jones (and mac n'cheese).

Derrike Cope
Cope's Ice-Aid paint out was cold as "Ice Ice Baby." The Derrike Cope Racing machine's primary for the 2016 season keeps things definitely keeps things cool under the hot Florida sun.

David Ragan
After driving for three different teams in 2015, we're sure David Ragan is thrilled to settle in with BK Racing for the upcoming season. He rolls into the 500 with a Dr. Pepper paint out that is truly "One of a Kind."

Richmond International Raceway
Call us a little biased, but we happen to think that this particular scheme was the hottest thing to arrive in Daytona for Speedweeks. You see a light bar on any of the other cars above? I didn't think so.

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An early morning look at the midweek storylines surrounding Speedweeks in Daytona.

Rise and shine race fans! Media Day was a blast, and as the focus now turns to the track, there's been a ton of buzz and excitement heading into this weekend's Daytona 500. Here are a few things we picked up on from yesterday's time with the drivers...

Locked and Loaded for Thursday
Don't expect the race rubbing from Saturday night's Sprint Unlimited to have any kind of effect on the on-track action for Thursday's duels. Any concerns about taking saving equipment for Sunday were quickly dismissed by 2014 Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick. "It's a race," the No. 4 driver said. "We're competitive and when that green flag drops, any kind of plan goes out the window and you just want to win." Brad Keselowski took a break from singing Rush to weigh in on his approach to Thursday's duels. "I've never been in a race where I didn't want to get out front and (race to win)."

Singing Chase's Praises
Chase Elliott made history Sunday by becoming the youngest-ever Daytona 500 pole winner. But don't think that the rest of the field views Chase as a mere fluke. Teammate Jimmie Johnson knows that Hendrick has something special in the rookie; "He's got a very good pulse on things. We all see it, we all know it." Matt Kenseth, who as of today will start opposite of Elliott on the front row of Sunday's race, has also been impressed by what he's seen of the rookie so far. "I'm not worried about (his lack of experience) at all. He's proven his ability over the last several years." 

A Stacked Rookie Class
Chase isn't the only rookie with his hat in the ring for the 2016 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, with Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing), Chris Buescher (Front Row Motorsports) and Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports) ready to go head-to-head. With 13 NASCAR National Series wins and three Series championships between them, drivers think this could be one of the deepest and most talented rookie classes to date.

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RIR finally finds itself down in Daytona for Speedweeks

After almost 700 miles and 10 hours driving down the East Coast, RIR finally finds itself in Daytona for Speedweeks. To celebrate this truly momentous occasion, we're posting our daily five at five (albeit a bit behind schedule) and taking a look at some of the top storylines heading into Speedweeks.

Like Father Like Son
It's a tall order taking on the legacy of the 24, but Chase Elliott passed his first test with flying colors. With a lap speed of 45.845 seconds, the Sprint Series rookie became the youngest-ever winner of the Daytona 500 pole award. His father, Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, was a four time winner of the award (last won in 2001), making Chase and Bill the fourth father/son duo to win poles for the 500 (Richard and Kyle Petty, Bobby and Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr).

Fans all over the country can share their race day moments with one another thanks to NASCAR's new partnership with Snapchat. Starting with the Daytona 500 this Sunday, Snapchat will cover several races throughout the 2016 season. From the early morning tailgate to the champagne in Victory Lane, users can get an inside look at everything race day through the collective Live Story. For even more of a fix, add us on Snapchat too @ririnsider. 

Vickers Causes "The Big One"
While a back injury keeps Tony Stewart sidelined to start the 2016 season- fan-favorite Brian Vickers will take his place at the wheel of the No. 14. But after missing all but two races last season with blood clot issues, his initial return to a Sprint Cup Series ride was short-lived. A cut tire on lap 23 led to the Daytona "Big One," ending his night early. With plenty of track-time before the 500 on Sunday, there's still opportunity for Vickers to round into form.

In the first Sprint Cup action of 2016, Denny Hamlin took home his third Sprint Unlimited trophy, and second in three years. Only four cars in the field of 25 made it through the race unscathed- luckily for Denny he got his out of the way quickly. After some early race rubbing with Ricky Stenhouse Jr on lap 12, the Chester, VA native managed to race his way to an overtime win over Joey Logano (second), Paul Menard (third) and Kyle Larson (fourth). 

Fanatics Makes Daytona Debut
With over 100,000 square feet of retail space across 33 locations at the track, Fanatics...

Sorry about that. Unexpected John Cena insisted we mention him being the honorary pace car driver for the 500 on Sunday. 

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2016 Season Kicks Off with Sprint Unlimited on Saturday Night

Richmond, it's been three long months since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series put rubber to the pavement. But one international cycling tournament, four federal holidays, a snowstorm and several craft beer festivals later- the wait is finally over. Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway kicks off this weekend with the Sprint Unlimited on Saturday.

As all eyes turn to central Florida for the season's start, questions surrounding the 2016 season begin to surface. Will Rowdy Nation celebrate a Championship for the second year in a row? Is 2016 the year Junior brings home his first Sprint Cup trophy? And how the heck will the 24 look without Gordon behind the wheel? Who'll be breathing easy when they return to Richmond this September, and who'll feel the pressure of potentially missing the Chase cut?

No, Saturday won't answer many questions, but it will provide some damned good racing. With an eclectic field of former Sprint Unlimited champions,  2015 Chase drivers, Daytona 500 pole award winners and more - it's sure to be a wild ride. Here are a few to keep an eye on Saturday night:
  • Kyle Busch: Best driver rating at Daytona among active drivers. Won the race back in 2012. Oh yeah- and he's the defending champ.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Daytona's pied-piper. Junior's one of the best restrictor plate racers out there, and with four points-paying wins at Daytona, four Can-Am Duels wins, and two Sprint Unlimited wins, he's always an odds-on Speedweeks favorite.
  • Joey Logano: Finding recent success on restrictor plate tracks, Logano is one to keep an eye on Saturday night. His one win at Daytona comes in the 2015 Daytona 500, but Logano has proven that he has what it takes to make moves in the draft.
Be on the lookout for these drivers and the rest of the field on Saturday, February 13 during the Sprint Unlimited. Tune into FOX at 8 p.m. to catch all the action!