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Sunday, February 19, 2012

jimmy johnson nascar

jimmy johnson nascar

With the least number of penalties in Sunday’s season finale, Jimmie Johnson made history with his fifth straight National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) title, claiming championship by 39 points over Denny Hamlin

Finishing third in the final standings is Kevin Harvick, lagging behind Johnson by 41 points.

”I was after it pretty hard,” said Johnson. ”Even if you aren’t a 48 fan, I think you saw something special today.”

Johnson’s fifth consecutive victory moved him past Jeff Gordon for the most titles among active drivers. He now holds the third place on the career list, behind seven-time champions and Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

Ever since the debut of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format in 2004, the one who took the points lead into the finale always ended up the winner. But for the first time in seven years, Johnson’s was the only come-from-behind championship.

With a series’ best eight wins, Hamlin was in the lead as the season drew to a close. But a terrible race last week in Phoenix kept it tight-headed into Sunday, costing him the chance for a clean run.

”We had a great year, we won the most races that we ever won, we contended like we’ve never contended before and just circumstances took us out of this one,” Hamlin said.

Very early in the race, Hamlin damaged the front of his car after he came in contact with Greg Biffle. He had to work all day in order to finish 14th as he dropped to 37th by the restart.

”My job is to work in the offseason to do everything I can to be better and, you know, I know every year that I am in the Cup series, I’m going to be better than I was the previous year,” Hamlin said, vowing to be stronger next season.

On the other hand, Harvick, with only 80 laps to go, took the lead on a round of pit stops until he was flagged for speeding on a pit road, thus reducing his ranking to 29th.

”I don’t think that penalty will ever settle in my stomach,” said Harvick after the race, still upset with the call. ”I won’t ever settle for that.”
NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus are back in the spotlight at one of racing’s biggest stages — and not for the right reason.

NASCAR confiscated part of their Daytona 500 car Friday because of illegal modifications, a rocky start to Speedweeks for a team trying to bounce back from its worst season.

Sprint Cup Series officials determined the No. 48 Chevrolet had illegally modified C-posts, an area of sheet metal between the roof and the side windows. It could lead to penalties for Knaus and the team.

Officials cut off the C-posts and planned to ship them to NASCAR’s research and development center in Concord, N.C., for further testing. In the meantime, the parts in question were put on display for other teams to examine, a routine procedure for the sanctioning body.

NASCAR allowed the Hendrick Motorsports team to fix that area of the car before practice begins for the Feb. 26 Daytona 500. Qualifying is scheduled for Sunday.

“Well, it’s a hell of a way to start the 2012 season,” said Ken Howes, vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports. “But the car obviously failed inspection and NASCAR has directed us how they want it fixed and we’re busy doing that. We’re waiting on some parts to arrive and we’ll put it back together and run it through inspection again.”

The No. 48 team could be fined, docked points or both following the series’ premier event.

“There’s always a potential, but we’ll just wait until after Speedweeks is over with,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition.

Knaus has been caught cheating before.

Most notably, he was ejected before the 2006 Daytona 500 after NASCAR found illegal modifications following a qualifying session. Last season, Knaus was caught on camera telling Johnson that if he won at Talladega he needed to “crack the back of the car,” apparently to build an explanation in case the car did not pass post-race inspection. Nothing came of that situation.

Knaus has been fined and penalized several other times, too.

This situation doesn’t appear to be as serious as it was in 2006.

“Ejection? No, no, we’re good,” Pemberton said. “That was a little bit different because that was a post-event we’d already been in. That wasn’t a pre-race inspection or pre-qualifying inspection.”

Knaus skipped a three-day testing session at Daytona last month. He was on a Hendrick Motorsports-approved vacation to South Africa that most who know the tightly wound crew chief believe will help him over the course of NASCAR’s grueling 11-month schedule.

Johnson guessed it had been almost a decade since Knaus took his last real vacation. His commitment paid off with 55 victories since 2002 and a NASCAR-record five consecutive championships. His run with Johnson was snapped last season by Tony Stewart, and Johnson finished a career-low sixth in the final Sprint Cup standings.

It’s unclear whether Knaus intentionally broke the rules or was merely pushing the limits of template tolerances.

Howes said modifying C-posts would provide an aerodynamic advantage.

“Yeah, any bodywork area, everybody’s always looking,” Howes said. “It’s an area that you’ll go as far as you can because, yes, it will affect the performance of the car. That’s the nature of this kind of racing, especially at Daytona. That’s an area that teams will work in. The 48 obviously went too far.”

He said he hasn’t asked Knaus for an explanation on how or why the modifications were made. He said it could be that the template didn’t fit properly.

“You work within the templates the best way you think and you’re trying to do a better job than the next guy,” Howes said. “And I did not see the grid on the car, so I can’t tell exactly where it missed, but NASCAR said it wasn’t right, so it’s not right. We don’t have an argument with that.”

Series director John Darby said he believed the other three Hendrick Motorsports cars — those driven by Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne — passed inspection.

He added that the No. 48 team should be able to get things fixed.

“If you watch the damage that they can repair in 50 laps, they’re very, very talented,” Darby said. “They are pretty simple panels. It’s a matter of cutting the old ones out, welding new ones in. It’ll obviously go back through inspection to make sure all the templates are correct.”
Jimmie Johnson is only four points away from leading the Chase for the Sprint Cup after taking first place on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.Before chasing his sixth straight Cup title Johnson and his team spent the night in the garage attempting to figure out why NASCAR’s top racer didn’t qualify in the races top position.

Johnson surged to the front of the pack early and held off racers during several cautions to take the green-white-checkered finish for his first win since April.

After the race crew chief Chad Knaus said of his star driver:

“Jimmie was very dedicated last night with us, trying to figure out the setup of the car,” while adding, “We pored over a lot of combinations and we came up with a good one.”
After tweaking the setup on Johnson’s car he managed to lead the race for 197 laps while claiming his 55th victory, moving Johnson into a tie with Rusty Wallace for the eights most wins of all time.

Last weekend Johnson finished in second-place after entering Dover in 10th place.

Speaking about his team Johnson said:

“I know what my team is capable of … and we showed today what we’re capable of when we’re all performing at the top of our game.”
While Carl Edwards still sits atop NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship only 19 points separate the top eight drivers.

Do you think Jimmy Johnson will pull ahead once again to claim his 7th straight Sprint Cup or will Carl Edwards remain this seasons top driver?

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