Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Bristol Night Race

BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY (0.533-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: BRISTOL, TENNESSEE
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 24 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 7:30 P.M. ET, SATURDAY, AUG. 19 (NBC/PRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 Rated Red Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

Driver Kasey Kahne   Hometown Enumclaw, Washington
Age 37                        Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 20th in standings
  • 23 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 31 laps led

Career

  • 491 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 173 top-10 finishes
  • 4,638 laps led

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 1 win
  • 1 pole position
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 10 top-10 finishes
  • 512 laps led
RATED RED: This weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Rated Red Chevrolet SS. The Rated Red paint scheme will also adorn the No. 5 Chevrolet SS during the upcoming Charlotte Motor Speedway race weekend. The Hendrick Motorsports docuseries “Road to Race Day” can be seen on Complex Networks’ Rated Red available on go90. Rated Red is the Heartland’s first digital video network, covering the best in news, outdoor life, food, sports, DIY and more. Whatever your passion, Rated Red has you covered. No. 5 team-related episodes will be released on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6.

BRISTOL STATS: Bristol Motor Speedway marks the site of one of Kahne’s two NASCAR Cup Series wins in 2013. He led 109 laps in the March race and powered through 17 lead changes to take the checkered flag 1.7 seconds ahead of second place. The win was Kahne’s third while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has led a total of 512 laps throughout five races at Bristol, which places him ninth among active drivers. Kahne has also earned one of his 27 career pole awards at the short track. He captured the pole in the August 2007 race with a pole speed of 119.805 mph and came up one spot shy of earning the victory.

BRISTOL LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne is second in green-flag passes with 1,376 and in quality passes with 801. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running inside the top 15 while under green-flag conditions. He ranks fifth in the fastest laps run category with 506. The driver of the No. 5 Chevy is seventh in laps spent in the top 15 with 7,005.

PARADE OF POWER: On Wednesday, Aug. 16, Kahne will participate in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Parade of Power event in Concord, North Carolina. The parade signifies the kickoff of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s fall schedule of racing activities. The parade departs the Concord Mills mall at 12 p.m. ET and will end at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event is open to the public and media. For more information, contact Lauren Emling.

RACING ROOTS: HendrickMotorsports.com has released a four-part video series on Kahne titled “Racing Roots.” The videos take you from Kahne’s early beginnings in Enumclaw, Washington, to being part of Hendrick Motorsports today. The video series also looks at his passion away from the asphalt track – his dirt car team, Kasey Kahne Racing. The video series can be viewed here.

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 21                      Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2017 Season

  • 7th in standings
  • 23 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 2 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 13 top-10 finishes
  • 182 laps led

Career

  • 64 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 16 top-five finishes
  • 30 top-10 finishes
  • 540 laps led

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 14 laps led
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Aug. 18, at 9:15 a.m. local time in the Bristol Motor Speedway media center.

NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS will feature the familiar blue-and-yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme. The Atlanta-based company will serve as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 24 team for 24 NASCAR Cup Series races this year. Most recently, Elliott piloted the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy to an eighth-place finish at Michigan International Speedway.

BRISTOL STATS: Elliott is set to make his fourth career start at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. In his previous three starts, the 21-year-old driver has led 14 laps and collected one top-five finish and two top-10s. He averages a starting position of 9.0 and finishing position of 8.7. In Elliott’s four NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at the track, he earned one top-five finish and finished in the top 10 in all four events.

MICHIGAN REWIND: Elliott and the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team started fifth in Sunday’s event at Michigan International Speedway. Elliott leveraged the strong starting position to finish third in Stage 1 and collect eight additional points. After finishing 11th in Stage 2, the No. 24 team opted not to pit during the stage break. The strategy allowed Elliott to restart ninth on Lap 128. With less than 50 laps remaining, Elliott jumped from sixth to third before making a scheduled green-flag pit stop for four tires and fuel on Lap 160. After running a handful of laps under green, an incident on the backstretch halted the race with only five laps remaining to set up a two-lap overtime restart with Elliott scored in fifth. In overtime, Elliott’s position in the unfavorable inside line resulted in him dropping several spots to ultimately take the checkered flag eighth for his 13th top-10 finish in 23 races this season.

ELLIOTT IN BRISTOL: Elliott is scheduled to be at Courtesy Chevrolet in Kingsport, Tennessee, on Thursday, Aug. 17, beginning at 4 p.m. local time. He will also make appearances at the Team Chevy Stage on Saturday, Aug. 19, at 4:45 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session, followed by a stop at the Mountain Dew Tailgate at 5:05 p.m.

BRAVES COUNTRY: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native was recently a guest on Fox Sports South’s “Chopcast Live” with hosts Cory McCartney and Zach Dillard. Elliott covered a variety of topics including his thoughts on the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS throwback paint scheme for Darlington Raceway, the playoffs and of course, the Atlanta Braves.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 41                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 23 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 188 laps led

Career

  • 566 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 221 top-five finishes
  • 337 top-10 finishes
  • 18,634 laps led

Track Career 

  • 31 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 11 top-five finishes
  • 18 top-10 finishes
  • 914 laps led
LAST TIME AT BRISTOL: Last time at Bristol Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson led 81 laps en route to his second win at the 0.533-mile track. It was Johnson’s 82nd career win and first win at Bristol since 2010.

DRIVER RATING AT BRISTOL: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Johnson has the sixth-best driver rating at Bristol with an average score of 93.0 since 2005. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points and is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

LOWE’S UNVEILED DARLINGTON THROWBACK: Today, Lowe’s revealed the special Darlington Raceway throwback Chevy Johnson will be driving at the 500-mile event over Labor Day weekend. The paint scheme design was inspired by Lowe’s trucks from 1986 and can be seen here.

TESTING CHICAGO: Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and the No. 48 team are participating a two-day test at Chicagoland Speedway on Aug. 15 and 16 in preparation of the Sept. 17 playoff-opening event. Over the course of his 83 career wins, Johnson still has yet to earn a victory at Chicago.

ROAD TO RACE DAY: The fourth installment of “Road to Race Day,” the eight-part docuseries about Hendrick Motorsports, premieres Wednesday on go90and focuses on Johnson, Knaus and the No. 48 team. The episode was filmed during the May 2016 All-Star Race weekend in Charlotte. The series is directed by Cynthia Hill (“A Chef’s Life,” “Private Violence”) and executive produced by Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights,” “Lone Survivor”).

TICKET PACKAGE AT DOVER: Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and 11-time Dover winner Johnson will hold an exclusive question-and-answer session before the playoff race at Dover on Oct. 1. For $60, the “Jimmie Johnson Q&A Package” includes one adult ticket and one junior ticket (for children ages 12 and younger) in the lower section of the turns, as well as access to the Q&A session before the race. For more information, log on to www.DoverSpeedway.com.

No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 42                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 22nd in standings
  • 23 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 24 laps led

Career

  • 618 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 256 top-10 finishes
  • 8,211 laps led

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 8 top-five finishes
  • 16 top-10 finishes
  • 790 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Thursday, Aug. 17, at 2:15 p.m. local time in the Bristol Motor Speedway media center.

BRISTOL VICTOR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has earned one victory at Bristol Motor Speedway, which came in August 2004, when he led 295 laps en route to capturing the checkered flag. The 42-year-old came close to getting his second win in the 2016 spring race, finishing second in a dramatic comeback. In that race, Earnhardt had no power at the drop of the green flag, but he was able to get the No. 88 Chevrolet SS to pit road for service, although it forced him two laps down at the start of the race. Earnhardt and the crew chief Greg Ives-led No. 88 team worked diligently throughout the race to get back on the lead lap and in position to contend for the win.

BRISTOL STATS: The driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS has been running at the finish of 31 of the 34 races (91.2 percent) he has entered at Bristol. He’s also completed 16,267 of 17,027 laps (95.5 percent) in his 34 starts. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Earnhardt ranks third in green-flag passes with 1,279 and ranks fourth among active drivers in the “closers” category, gaining a total of 13 positions in the last 10 percent of races. The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has the third-best average finish among all active drivers in the last 25 Cup races at Bristol. Earnhardt, who recorded 11 top-10s during that span, has an average finish of 12.6 since 2005.

SPECIAL SCHEME: Earnhardt will run a special True Timber camouflage Axalta scheme this weekend, featuring Axalta’s partners Ducks Unlimited, which is the largest wetlands conservationist in the world, and Service King, an auto service chain that strives to deliver safe, superior repairs with excellent customer service. Click here to see the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS camo scheme.

DOUBLE DUTY: For the first time this season, Earnhardt will be pulling double duty, driving the JR Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR XFINITY Series on Friday night in addition to the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Cup Series on Saturday night. Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports will have five cars entered in Friday night’s XFINITY race. He will also pull double duty again at Richmond Raceway in three weeks.

DEW PROMOTING THE OUTDOORS AND ‘RIDE WITH JR.’ PROGRAM: Just in time for fall, Mountain Dew is introducing a program to bring fans the best in outdoors, racing and more. The brand has partnered with True Timber for a unique line of limited-edition camo gear that fans can earn and win. In addition to the True Timber apparel, Mountain Dew will also celebrate the outdoors by introducing limited-edition Mtn Dew True Timber camo products, executing one of the brand’s biggest-ever outdoors activations at the Bristol night race on Aug. 19, and joining Earnhardt for his final race at Talladega, where he’ll take his final laps featuring the names of 100,000 fans on his No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet. Fans can enter to have their names placed on the paint scheme atRideWithJr.com. Fans will receive an email and can check the site this fall to see where their name will be placed on the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet. Earnhardt will stop by the Mountain Dew Tailgate at 4:10 p.m. local time on Saturday, Aug. 19, for a fan Q&A session.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT BRISTOL: At Bristol Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins, 11 pole positions, 55 top-five finishes and 99 top-10s. Johnson most recently won there for the organization earlier this year in the April event.

ROAD TO RACE DAY: Hendrick Motorsports has teamed with Complex Networks, Film 45 and Markay Media on an original eight-part documentary series that goes behind the scenes with the organization during the 2016 season. New “Road to Race Day” episodes premiere Wednesdays on the go90 streaming platform. Watch for free by downloading the go90 app on your Apple or Android device, or view the series at go90.com.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,022 top-five finishes and 1,722 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,797 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“Over the years, Bristol has gotten faster throughout an entire run — the lap times don’t fall off like they used to. Track position means a lot, and on the longer runs you can make moves. It’s a small track and you can work the top and bottom, wherever your car is best. The excitement of the night race is so cool and it would be neat to get a night win. I’ve won during the day and that was cool.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Bristol

“Just the atmosphere — such a cool atmosphere and one that we don’t see but one time a year and that is why we love it. We love what we can’t have and something that only happens once a year makes it that much more special.”

Chase Elliott on the difference between Bristol’s day and night races

“To say I’m excited to get to Bristol is an understatement. I can’t say enough about the hard work my guys have been putting in lately. It’s been a frustrating summer to say the least. I’ve got confidence we can turn this around.”

Jimmie Johnson on heading to Bristol

“When I was a kid, the night race at Bristol was the one I got really excited about. They parked the vans over the corner and literally it felt like we were 20 feet from the cars sitting on top of the vans there. You just could see the drivers working in the cars and you could see the action. There was no better experience in my book than getting that close to stock car racing in those days at Bristol. Me and the other kids would run around and beg everybody to let us wax their cars or whatever we could do. It was such a small place. It was fun to get involved in anything and everything in the infield. During the race, we’d probably watch from 50 different vantage points. We’d be climbing all over trucks and going down pit road and getting on this truck and that truck. We’d just be everywhere. So, I loved going there.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his childhood memories at Bristol

“The track itself is real unique. There’s not another one like it. It has always been a surprise to me that nobody has ever tried to emulate it somewhere else because it’s such an incredible place. Particularly when it was asphalt, it was quite the racetrack. And it’s surprising to me that nobody has tried to rebuild that sort of racetrack somewhere else to see how it would do. But maybe it’s best there’s only one. It’s still a lot of fun to race on even though it’s changed quite a bit. And, I always thought that was one of the coolest trophies. It was taller than me for quite a large part of my life. Until I graduated from high school, I don’t think I was any taller than that trophy, and daddy had a bunch of them in the house. He had a lot of clocks. He had a lot of Bristol trophies. And I wanted one of each. So, I feel lucky to have those now.”

Earnhardt on racing at Bristol

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reminisces About His Time At Michigan

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. & Trevor Bayne
This weekend marks the last time the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., will compete in the series at Michigan International Speedway.

And while Michigan is one of many tracks Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be saying good-bye to this season, he thinks the 2-mile track in the Irish Hills is one of the best.

“This place here is, to me, the standard for the 1.5-mile or 2-mile race track,” he said on Friday, two days before the Pure Michigan 400. “This place is so much fun to race on for a driver. It’s a great race track.”

Some of Junior’s fondest memories from his racing career came at Michigan. And they’re not all wins. He won here twice in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and twice in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. But one of his strongest memories comes from a race he lost—the 1999 IROC race, the end of which he has rewatched numerous times. Unfortunately, the outcome has never changed!

Coming out of Turn 4 toward the checkered flag, he and his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., were battling for the win. Rusty Wallace came up behind them. Wallace could have pushed Junior to the win—which would have been poetically perfect, Junior said.

Wallace and Earnhardt Sr. flipped between friends and rivals throughout their careers. That was true on and off the track. If one of them bought a plane, the other one bought a bigger plane. So Junior thought that if Wallace pushed the son past the father for the win, Wallace would have been able to hold that over Earnhardt Sr.’s head forever. But Wallace didn’t get behind either one of them, and the elder Earnhardt won the race.

Junior said, half-jokingly, that he’s still mad at Wallace, 19 years later, for not helping him!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Pure Michigan 400

MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (TWO-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 23 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, AUG. 13 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 LiftMaster Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

Driver Kasey Kahne   Hometown Enumclaw, Washington
Age 37                        Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 19th in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 31 laps led

Career

  • 490 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 173 top-10 finishes
  • 4,638 laps led

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 1 win
  • 3 pole positions
  • 8 top-five finishes
  • 10 top-10 finishes
  • 67 laps led
LIFTMASTER: This weekend, Kasey Kahne looks to lift his position in the point standings at Michigan International Speedway in the No. 5 LiftMaster Chevrolet SS. Michigan marks the third and final time Kahne will pilot the LiftMaster paint scheme this season. He also drove it Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

KAHNE AT MICHIGAN: Three of Kahne’s 27 NASCAR Cup Series pole awards have been earned at Michigan – in 2006, 2010 and 2015. The three pole awards ties Kahne with Joey Logano for the most poles earned by an active driver at the track. In June 2006, the 37-year-old swept the weekend at the Irish Hills track by winning the 129-lap race. He led 19 laps en route to his fifth Cup Series victory, bringing his total laps led at the track to 67.

MICHIGAN LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne ranks second in green-flag passes with 1,974. He’s fourth in quality passes with 878. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green-flag conditions. The Enumclaw, Washington, native is sixth in fastest laps run with 187 and eighth in laps spent in the top 15 with 2,741.

RACING ROOTS: HendrickMotorsports.com has released a four-part video series on Kahne titled “Racing Roots.” The videos take you from Kahne’s early beginnings in Enumclaw, Washington, to being part of Hendrick Motorsports today. The video series also looks at his passion away from the asphalt track – his dirt car team, Kasey Kahne Racing. The video series can be viewed here.

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 21                      Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2017 Season

  • 7th in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 2 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 12 top-10 finishes
  • 182 laps led

Career

  • 63 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 16 top-five finishes
  • 29 top-10 finishes
  • 540 laps led

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 66 laps led
NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS will don the familiar blue-and-yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme. The Atlanta-based company will serve as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 24 team for 24 NASCAR Cup Series races this year. Most recently, Elliott piloted the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy to a 10th-place finish at Pocono Raceway.

MICHIGAN STATS: The 21-year-old driver is set to make his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan this weekend. In each of Elliott’s three previous starts at the two-mile speedway, he collected second-place finishes. In addition to his average finishing position of 2.0, he averages a starting position of 8.3 at the track. In Elliott’s two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Michigan, he collected one top-five finish and two top-10s.

MICHIGAN LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Elliott has the top driver rating at Michigan with an average score of 119.0. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. Elliott also ranks first for average running position at Michigan with a 5.135 average place.

ELLIOTT AT CHEVY STAGE: Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage on Sunday, August 13, at 12:10 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.

WATKINS GLEN REWIND: Elliott posted his best career qualifying effort and raced inside the top 10 for much of last Sunday’s Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International before ultimately finishing 13th after having to pit for fuel in the closing laps. He remains seventh in the driver point standings as the series heads to Michigan.

No. 48 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 41                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 188 laps led

Career

  • 565 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 221 top-five finishes
  • 337 top-10 finishes
  • 18,634 laps led

Track Career 

  • 31 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 13 top-10 finishes
  • 687 laps led
HELMET OF HOPE: This weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson will wear the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope, which features five charities working to improve K-12 public education. As a show of support to Johnson’s efforts to raise funds for such programs, a number of his NASCAR Cup Series competitors will display Jimmie Johnson Foundation-branded decals on the visors of their helmets. Featured on the helmet are the following winning charitable initiatives: Art Feeds in Fayetteville, Arkansas; Edu-Futuro in Arlington, Virginia; Mary J. Treglia Community House in Sioux City, Iowa; School on Wheels of Massachusetts in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts; and The Kids’ Reading Room in Houston.

JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION PAINT OUT: In addition to the Helmet of Hope, Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet will feature the special star logos of the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. Johnson has seen plenty of success running the paint scheme, earning three wins, two top-five finishes and three top-10s. Along with the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program, the foundation operates the Champions Grant program – providing cash grants to schools in the Johnsons’ hometowns and where they currently live – Team Up For Technology, a $48,000 technology makeover open to schools nationwide, and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Fit Fest – a family friendly, event in Charlotte, North Carolina, which features running, mountain biking, obstacle racing, music, food and more.

DRIVER RATING AT MICHIGAN: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Johnson has the fourth-best driver rating at Michigan with an average score of 99.1 since 2005. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points and is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

CALLING ALL KIDS TO CHICAGO: Johnson is hosting a special ticket package for families at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 17. Johnson, Chicagoland and NASA have teamed up for the third consecutive year for a special ticket package that features a youth question-and-answer session. The pricing is $23 for kids 12 and under and $48 for adults. Log on to www.ChicagolandSpeedway.com for more info.

No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 42                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 23rd in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 24 laps led

Career

  • 617 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 256 top-10 finishes
  • 8,211 laps led

Track Career 

  • 35 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 8 top-five finishes
  • 15 top-10 finishes
  • 353 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Aug. 11, at 4:15 p.m. local time in the Michigan International Speedway media center.

SOLID STATS IN THE IRISH HILLS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has scored two wins at Michigan International Speedway. His most recent victory came on June 17, 2012, when he started 17th and led 95 laps before crossing the stripe with a 5.393-second lead to earn the victory. The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has also earned two pole-position starts at the two-mile track, tying his career bests. He also has two poles at Texas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Earnhardt ranks sixth in the driver rating category among active drivers at Michigan with an average of 95.5 since 2005. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. He ranks in the top five in many other loop data categories, such as fastest laps run (fourth – 205 laps), green-flag speed (fifth – 180.173 mph), laps in the top 15 (third – 3,134 laps), laps led (fifth – 289), and quality passes (second – 973 passes).

CONGRATS, AXALTA: Congratulations to Hendrick Motorsports partner Axalta Coating Systems, a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, on being named a GM Supplier of the Year by General Motors during its 25th annual Supplier of the Year awards ceremony held on March 31 in Orlando, Florida. GM recognized 118 of its best suppliers from 15 countries that have consistently exceeded GM’s expectations, created outstanding value or brought new innovations to the company. The announcement represented the most suppliers GM has recognized since debuting the Supplier of the Year event in 1992. This is the third consecutive year Axalta has received the award.

IVES AND OTHER MICHIGANDERS: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives hails from Bark River, Michigan, and grew up working with his father and older brother at the local racetracks. He spent eight years behind the wheel before finding his true calling under the hood. After earning a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Tech, Ives joined the No. 24 team as a shop mechanic before getting the opportunity to be the race engineer on the No. 48 team. After recording five championships with Johnson and the No. 48 group, Ives went to JR Motorsports to crew chief before returning to Hendrick Motorsports to lead the No. 88 team in 2015. You can read more about Ives’ background here. Two additional members of the No. 88 Axalta team call Michigan their home state. Andy “Squigz” Quillan, hauler driver for the No. 88 team, was born and raised in Orleans, Michigan, which is approximately two hours from the racetrack. Scott Brzozowski, the front tire changer for the No. 88 team, grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan, which is outside of Detroit. He was a member of the No. 24 over-the-wall crew before he switched to the No. 88 team last fall.

RIR VICTORY TOUR: On Tuesday, the driver of the No. 88 Chevy visits Richmond for his Victory Tour, where in addition to spending time at the racetrack, Earnhardt is scheduled to visit training camp for his favorite NFL team – the Washington Redskins. Follow Richmond International Raceway’s social media channels for highlights from the tour.

ICYMI, HOMESTEAD CAR UNVEILED: In case you missed it, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, the 14-time most popular driver appeared live on QVC to reveal the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS that he will race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19 as part of his JR Nation #Appreci88ion Tour. The red-and-black Axalta scheme is based on the paint scheme Earnhardt debuted in 1999 when he competed in his first career NASCAR Cup Series race. For photos from the unveil, click here.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MICHIGAN: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have led 2,478 laps en route to eight wins, 52 top-five finishes and 96 top-10s in addition to 11 pole positions at Michigan. The organization swept both races at the two-mile oval in 2014, and in each of the past three events at Michigan, Chase Elliott has earned runner-up finishes.

MASTERING MICHIGAN: Hendrick Motorsports’ eight NASCAR Cup Series victories at Michigan have come via five different drivers: Jeff Gordon (3), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2), Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Ricky Rudd.

TEAM JJF VISOR: All four Hendrick Motorsports teammates will sport a Jimmie Johnson Foundation decal strip on their visors for Sunday’s race at Michigan. After the race, the signed visors will be auctioned off to raise funds for programs in need through the foundation.

ROAD TO RACE DAY: Hendrick Motorsports has teamed with Complex Networks, Film 45 and Markay Media on an original eight-part documentary series that goes behind the scenes with the organization during the 2016 season. New “Road to Race Day” episodes premiere Wednesdays on the go90 streaming platform. Watch for free by downloading the go90 app on your Apple or Android device, or view the series at go90.com.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,022 top-five finishes and 1,721 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,797 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“Michigan is unique because it’s a very fast track and the restarts can be pretty tricky. We’ve had fast cars the past few weeks and have been able to carry some momentum over from the Brickyard win, so I’m looking forward to getting on the track at Michigan. It’s a big weekend for Chevrolet because it’s their home track and they are such great supporters of the racing program.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Michigan

“It’s great. It’s also frustrating to have run second every time we have been there. It’s good I guess that we are inside the top five the past few times we have been there, but at the same time that is frustrating to have been pretty close to having a shot to win there, which would have been very big if we could have pulled that out. I like Michigan. I’ve always liked going up there. I really love that area. It’s just a cool part of the United States to go to. I like it up there – it’s a nice area and that is kind of why I like going.”

Chase Elliott on heading to Michigan

“First, I would like to thank Lowe’s for allowing us to run the Jimmie Johnson Foundation paint scheme. Also, an honor to highlight these five charities making a huge impact on K-12 public education across the country on my Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope. I’m thankful to my competitors who chose to wear the Team JJF visor strips and bring more visibility to our cause. We have had great success with the JJF Chevy in the past and hope to turn things around this weekend in Michigan.”

Jimmie Johnson on his Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevy at Michigan

Could William Byron Be Kasey Kahne’s Replacement?

William Byron

It is widely believed that Hendrick Motorsports will promote William Byron to the Monster Energy Cup Series next season to replace the departing Kasey Kahne. That announcement from the team is expected to made later this week, if reliable sources and rumors are correct.

The 19-year-old Byron is currently a rookie in the second-tier Xfinity Series, where he has three wins and ranks second in points driving for JR Motorsports, co-owned by Rick Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller.

Byron will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet with primary sponsorship from Liberty University, which has backed him in both Xfinity and the Camping World Truck Series. Axalta will also sponsor Byron in select races.

Having only raced actual cars for five years, Byron is regarded as a prodigy by industry insiders and heralded as one of NASCAR’s top prospects. His seven Truck Series wins as a rookie last year set a NASCAR national touring record for a first-year driver, a performance that compelled team owner Hendrick to recruit him away from Toyota-backed Kyle Busch Motorsports and place him in a JRM Xfinity car this season.

Byron takes over for Kahne, who Hendrick Motorsports announced Monday is being let go at the end of this season. Kahne, 37, had one year remaining on his contract, however, a combination of underwhelming results and a lack of sponsorship prompted Hendrick to make the change.

Since Byron joined the organization under a multi-year contract at the beginning of the 2017 season, Hendrick executives have viewed him has an option to replace Kahne, whose status with the team has been tenuous.

Initially, there was a lot of apprehension within the organization that it may be too soon to elevate Byron after just a single season in the Xfinity Series.  But the teenager’s recent results, he’s won three of the past seven Xfinity races and emerged as a championship favorite, along with his long-term potential and good rapport with sponsors were factors that just could not be ignored.

Byron’s presumed advancement comes with Hendrick amid a transition period. Kahne’s departure after six years with the team follows Earnhardt Jr. announcing in April he would retire from full-time competition at the end of the current season and four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon retiring after the 2015 season.

In 2018, the Hendrick lineup could span the gamut of experience. Along with seven-time Cup champion and team mainstay Jimmie Johnson, 41, it also consists of Byron, Alex Bowman, 24, and Chase Elliott, 21, none of whom have competed in more than two full Cup seasons.

Johnson and Elliott, who replaced Gordon, each recently signed multiyear extensions. Bowman is under contract through 2019 and was named in July to replace the retiring Earnhardt Jr. as driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet.

If, in fact, this presumed announcement happens, and both “Bowman The Showman” and young William Byron pan out, it could put HMS in a very strong competitive place that could keep the company extremely viable for many years to come!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Hendrick Motorsports Previews The I Love New York 355

WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL (2.45-MILE ROAD COURSE)

LOCATION: WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 22 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, AUG. 6 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 Rated Red Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

Driver Kasey Kahne   Hometown Enumclaw, Washington
Age 37                        Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 19th in standings
  • 21 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 31 laps led

Career

  • 489 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 173 top-10 finishes
  • 4,638 laps led

Track Career 

  • 13 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 3 laps led
RATED RED: This weekend at Watkins Glen, Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Rated Red Chevrolet SS. The Rated Red paint scheme will also adorn the No. 5 Chevrolet SS at Bristol Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Hendrick Motorsports docuseries “Road to Race Day” can be seen on Complex Networks’ Rated Red available on go90. Rated Red is the Heartland’s first digital video network, covering the best in news, outdoor life, food, sports, DIY and more. Whatever your passion, Rated Red has you covered.

WATKINS GLEN STATS: Watkins Glen proves to be one of the more challenging tracks for Kahne on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit. In his 13 starts at the 2.45-mile road course, he has an average starting position of 19.2 and an average finishing position of 21.1. The Enumclaw, Washington, native started on the outside pole position at The Glen in 2006. Kahne has also completed 98.3 percent of the 1,174 laps he’s run at the New York track.

WATKINS GLEN LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne ranks first in the green-flag passes category with 619. He is second fastest on restarts with a speed of 117.006 mph, and ninth in quality passes with 172. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running inside the top 15 while under green-flag conditions.

ROAD COURSE STATS: Kahne has 27 starts on road courses, including one win at Sonoma Raceway in 2009. He’s also earned two pole positions at road courses in his Cup Series career. Since 2013, he has amassed four top-10s on road courses.

RECAPPING POCONO: Last weekend at Pocono Raceway, Kahne qualified the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevy in the 12th position. He earned a stage bonus point and overcame a pit road speeding penalty before the start of the final stage to take the checkered flag in the 11th position.

RACING ROOTS: HendrickMotorsports.com has released a four-part video series on Kahne titled “Racing Roots.” The videos take you from Kahne’s early beginnings in Enumclaw, Washington, to being part of Hendrick Motorsports today. The video series also looks at his passion away from the asphalt track – his dirt car team, Kasey Kahne Racing. The video series can be viewed here.

No. 24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 21                      Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2017 Season

  • 7th in standings
  • 21 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 2 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 12 top-10 finishes
  • 173 laps led

Career

  • 62 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 16 top-five finishes
  • 29 top-10 finishes
  • 531 laps led

Track Career 

  • 1 start
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
SUNENERGY1 CHEVROLET: This weekend, SunEnergy1, one of the world’s largest privately held solar energy companies, will adorn the hood of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS. It marks the third of four races that SunEnergy1 will serve as the primary sponsor for Chase Elliott. In the most recent appearance, Elliott piloted the SunEnergy1 Chevy at Pocono Raceway in the June event, when he collected an eighth-place finish.

POCONO REWIND: Elliott rallied from 29th to 10th in the final stage of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway to record his 12th top-10 finish of the 2017 season. The result puts him seventh in the Cup Series driver point standings with only five races remaining in the regular season.

WATKINS GLEN STATS: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native is set to make his second Cup Series start at Watkins Glen. During his debut at the 2.45-mile road course in 2016, Elliott started 16th en route to a top-15 finish of 13th. Elliott has also competed in six road course races in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series, earning four top-five finishes. He has also competed in one Camping World Truck Series road course event, scoring a victory, and three ARCA Racing road course races, earning top-five finishes in each.

BIRTHDAY WISHES FOR ALAN: No. 24 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will celebrate his 42nd birthday on Saturday, Aug. 5, in Watkins Glen. Gustafson, who grew up just down the road from historic Daytona International Speedway, got his start in racing turning wrenches on the go-karts of childhood friend Casey Yunick, the grandson of legendary car builder and mechanic Smokey Yunick.

GOING RETRO: Last week, Elliott’s Darlington Raceway Southern 500 ride was revealed with a 360-degree video via Hendrick Motorsports’ Facebook page. The driver’s No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS will have a retro look based on his father Bill Elliott’s light blue paint scheme that debuted at Rockingham Speedway in 1976.

A LOOK BACK AT NASHVILLE: Last week, Elliott visited Nashville to promote the upcoming Aug. 19 night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. He appeared on “Nash Nights Live” with Shawn Parr and Elaina Smith, tried his hand at archery and was the guest co-host at the Grand Ole Opry for the second segment of the evening. Click here to take a look back at Elliott’s day.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 41                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 21 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 188 laps led

Career

  • 564 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 221 top-five finishes
  • 337 top-10 finishes
  • 18,634 laps led

Track Career 

  • 15 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 4 top-five finishes
  • 8 top-10 finishes
  • 17 laps led
WATKINS GLEN FAN FEST: Jimmie Johnson will appear Friday, Aug. 4, at the Watkins Glen International Fan Fest taking place inside the track. Johnson will be on stage for a question-and-answer session at 6:45 p.m. local time. See www.theglen.com for more details.

JOHNSON RIDES RAGBRAI: Prior to heading to Pocono, Johnson and friends made a trip to Iowa to participate in an annual bike ride across the state called RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI, an acronym for “Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa,” is a non-competitive, recreational bicycle ride that travels from west to east across the state of Iowa. It is the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world. Johnson and longtime pal Lance Armstrong rode more than 100 miles over the two days they attended. Click herefor the story.

JOHNSON IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SPECIAL EDITION: In the July 24 edition of Sports Illustrated, Johnson is featured among some elite athletes including MMA fighter Daniel Cormier, soccer star Didier Drogba, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran and former WNBA champion DeLisha Milton-Jones in a story focused on athletes either nearing or just past their 40th birthdays. Centered around New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s ability to stay on top of his game as he nears the age of 40, writer Greg Bishop looks into what it takes to succeed past that magic age. Click here for the full story.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHAD: No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus will celebrate his 46th birthday on Saturday, Aug. 5, while at The Glen. Knaus, who hails from Rockford, Illinois, became a crew chief at age 14, helping his father John compete at Rockford Speedway and other tracks across the Midwest.

48 CREW WINS MECHANIX WEAR SECOND QUARTER: The No. 48 pit crew was voted the Second Quarter Most Valuable Pit Crew by Mechanix Wear. The “Most Valuable Pit Crew” award is voted on by the crew chiefs in the NASCAR Cup Series garage. The team was awarded a check for $5,000 and an opportunity to be recognized as the Most Valuable Pit Crew at the end of the playoffs. The team won the award along with the No. 48 team’s seventh Cup championship in 2016. Members include: tire changers Kevin Novak and Calvin Teague; tire carriers R.J. Barnette and Ryan Patton; gasman Brandon Harder and jackman Kyle Tudor. Pit coaches are Chris Kreig and Jon Carvin.

MORE MALEC: No. 48 team car chief Ron Malec, this year’s recipient of the Brian Lunniss Mechanix Wear Lifetime Achievement award, will be featured in an article written by longtime motor sports journalist Al Pearce in the Aug. 7 edition of AutoWeek magazine. Malec was also featured this past weekend on NASCAR on FOX’s “RaceDay” show where Malec, Johnson and Knaus sat down with host Kaitlyn Vincie to talk about Malec’s career. Click hereto see the interview.

WINLESS AT WATKINS: Watkins Glen remains one of the three tracks on the current NASCAR Cup Series circuit that is not represented in the No. 48 team’s trophy collection. Although Johnson has four top-five finishes in 15 starts, the team hasn’t finished better than third at the New York road course. In addition to Watkins Glen, Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway are the only other tracks where Johnson has yet to win.

DRIVER RATING AT THE GLEN: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Johnson has the fourth-best driver rating at Watkins Glen with an average score of 95.2 since 2005. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points and is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

CALLING ALL KIDS TO CHICAGO: Johnson is hosting a special ticket package for families at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 17. Johnson, Chicagoland and NASA have teamed up for the third consecutive year for a special ticket package that features a youth question-and-answer session. The pricing is $23 for kids 12 and under and $48 for adults. Log on to www.ChicagolandSpeedway.com for more info.

No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 42                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 22nd in standings
  • 21 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 24 laps led

Career

  • 616 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 256 top-10 finishes
  • 8,211 laps led

Track Career 

  • 16 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 46 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Aug. 5, at 11:30 a.m. local time in the Watkins Glen International media center.

AXALTA RETURNS: After a five-race stretch with Nationwide as the primary partner on the No. 88 Chevrolet SS, the bright red, orange and yellow Axalta colors will return this weekend at The Glen. Axalta will be the primary partner on the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for 13 total races in 2017, including the next three race weekends – Watkins Glen, Michigan and Bristol.

AT THE GLEN: In his last two visits (2014 and 2015) to Watkins Glen International, Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned a pair of 11th-place finishes. In 16 total starts, the driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS has earned two top-five and three top-10 finishes at the road course. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Earnhardt ranks sixth in the “closers” category, gaining an average of 1.2 positions during the last 10 percent of the race. He ranks among the top 10 in several other categories, including laps led (sixth – 34 laps), average speed early in a run (sixth – 104.157 mph), average speed late in a run (seventh – 103.215 mph), quality passes (eighth – 175 passes) and laps spent in the top 15 (ninth – 530 laps).

NO. 88 HOMESTEAD CAR UNVEIL ON QVC: On Wednesday, Aug. 2, Earnhardt will appear on QVC to unveil his Axalta car for Homestead as part of his #Appreci88ion tour. The celebration show will air at 7 p.m. ET and will also be live-streamed on Earnhardt’s Facebook page. The show will also provide an exclusive opportunity to purchase die-casts of the ride in addition to special apparel. For more information, click here.

RIR VICTORY TOUR: Next week, the driver of the No. 88 Chevy will visit Richmond for his Victory Tour, where in addition to spending time at the racetrack, Earnhardt is scheduled to visit training camp for his favorite NFL team – the Washington Redskins.

ROAD TO RACE DAY: The third installment of “Road to Race Day,” the eight-part docuseries about Hendrick Motorsports, premieres Wednesday on go90and focuses on Earnhardt and the No. 88 team. The episode was filmed during the April 2016 Bristol race weekend, where Peyton Manning visits with the No. 88 team before they wage a nail-biting, unforgettable battle. The series is directed by Cynthia Hill (“A Chef’s Life,” “Private Violence”) and executive produced by Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights,” “Lone Survivor”).

TIES TO HOME: No. 88 spotter and podcast host TJ Majors, who is known for his calls of “Door. Bumper. Clear.” over the in-car radio, lists Watkins Glen International as his home track. He was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania, but grew up in East Bethany, New York, before moving to Mooresville, North Carolina, where he lives with wife Tamela and daughter Madelynn. Majors, who was introduced to Earnhardt via iRacing in 1997, began spotting for the driver at the end of the 2007 season and has continued with the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 team since Earnhardt joined in 2008, in addition to spotting for a variety of teams in other series, including Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports.

 

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT WATKINS GLEN: In 31 races at Watkins Glen, Hendrick Motorsports has six wins, six pole positions, 18 top-five finishes and 35 top-10s. Jeff Gordon ranks second on the all-time wins list at WGI with four victories. He earned Hendrick Motorsports’ most recent victory at the road course when he won the 2001 event. With 262 laps led, Gordon is the all-time leader in that category at the serpentine track.

ROAD TO RACE DAY: Hendrick Motorsports has teamed with Complex Networks, Film 45 and Markay Media on an original eight-part documentary series that goes behind the scenes with the organization during the 2016 season. New “Road to Race Day” episodes premiere Wednesdays on the go90 streaming platform. Watch for free by downloading the go90 app on your Apple or Android device, or view the series at go90.com.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,022 top-five finishes and 1,721 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,788 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“For whatever reason it took me a little while to figure out the braking and turning at Watkins Glen. It didn’t come to me as quickly as Sonoma did. Over the last couple of years I’ve improved at Watkins Glen, but I still have a little bit of work to do to get us to run up front.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Watkins Glen

“When it comes to road courses, I feel like we’ve run better at Watkins Glen – it just seems like we have had a little bit more success there. I haven’t really ever had the results to show, but I feel like at times we have had speed at Watkins Glen, which is nice, and we’ve shown pace.”

Chase Elliott on racing at Watkins Glen

“Watkins Glen hasn’t been too kind to the No. 48 team or me in particular in years past, but I look at this track every year as a personal challenge. The past two weeks haven’t been kind to us either, but our qualifying has improved and we are finding speed.”

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Watkins Glen

“We aren’t going to find top-two or top-three speed on Friday or Saturday. That kind of speed is built into the car and is made on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so we’ve got a ways to go to figure out how to get that kind of quickness. We’re not satisfied with 12th (at Pocono), but with the way our luck’s been going, it’s nice to get a race finished and get one in the bank. I think we’ve actually got an opportunity to run better than 12th at Watkins Glen – a road course. We’ll go there and dig and work hard.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on finding speed and heading to Watkins Glen

 TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Does Dale Jr. Have A Chance To Gain Entry Into The Playoffs This Year?

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has six more shots to qualify for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

And given his current 22nd position in the standings in what will be his last season of full-time racing, his only realistic path to the postseason involves winning one of the next six races.

Based on his own history, Earnhardt feels Sunday’s Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway, and the race at Michigan in two weeks hence, offer him the best chance of reaching Victory Lane. But he still feels it’s imperative to take a winning attitude to the other four tracks – Watkins Glen, Bristol, Darlington and Richmond.

“I think here and Michigan are tracks that I obviously have got some wins, recent wins at, so there is going to be some more expectations going into those or more confidence going into those,” Earnhardt said on Saturday at Pocono. “I hate to say that because we’ve got to go in there and even, like I said on social media the other day, we’ve got to go into Watkins Glen like we can win.

“We’ve got to go in there with that attitude, if we want to win. If that opportunity falls in our lap, you have to have your head on straight. We will go to all these tracks with a great, positive attitude and see how it works out for us, but here and Michigan are probably the ones at the top of the list.”

Should Earnhardt fail to make the playoff, he would still crave a victory in the final 10 races. He pointed to his 2014 victory Martinsville, after he had been eliminated from the playoff, as one of the most significant of his career.

“Everybody was down and bummed out,” Earnhardt recalled. “We thought we had a great season. We were in the top three in points all year, and we just got bumped out. We had a couple of bad races. And we went to Martinsville and won, which for me is definitely in my top five as far as wins that I personally appreciate. And we celebrated and it was the greatest. You’d have never known that we were disappointed about anything. And all that disappointment and upset feeling was gone…

“If we can win any race before the end of the season, just to go back to Victory Lane and know that feeling one more time before it’s over with, that would be awesome.”

What  a fairy tale ending it would be if Dale Jr. earned his way inot the playoffs and could wrestle a chanpionship away from all the favored drivers!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Is Determined To Get Into The 2017 Playoffs

Dale Earnhardt,Jr.
Kasey Kahne proved at Indy that all hope is not lost for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers who are low in the point standings. Without even a top-15 finish to show in his previous eight races, Kahne battled his way to a win at the Brickyard and earned the automatic playoff berth that comes with one.

Sitting 22nd in the point standings – 213 points below Matt Kenseth on the cutoff line – Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s playoff hopes seem bleak at first glance. When looking at the upcoming schedule, Earnhardt and his massive fan base should have at least a glimmer of hope he can make the postseason in his final full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series campaign. The No. 88 Chevrolet driver claims a combined eight wins at the remaining six tracks on the regular season docket, including two at Pocono Raceway – the site of Sunday’s Overton’s 400.

“I feel bad for all the fans because they’ve been really supporting us and this has been a difficult season for them to see us not compete like we should or like we have in the past,” Earnhardt said. “I’m hoping that I can turn that around for all our sakes really soon.”

In addition to his two victories, the 14-time most popular driver has 11 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in 34 career starts at Pocono. He has finished fifth or better in six of his last eight races at the Tricky Triangle.

If Earnhardt can’t pull through at Pocono, he can potentially triumph at Watkins Glen where he’s never won, Michigan (two wins), Bristol (one), Darlington (zero) and Richmond (three). He is particularly fond of Richmond because its layout is similar to Myrtle Beach Speedway where he grew up racing.

“We’ll go to the next race – Pocono – and keep digging,” Earnhardt said. “This is not the worst season by any stretch of the imagination – at least the cars have speed in them, we’ve just had some really bad luck. We’ve got a busy week coming up, but I’m so ready for Pocono.”

Can Dale Jr. punch his ticket to the playoffs this year?  Time is running out!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Overton’s 400

POCONO RACEWAY (2.5-MILE TRIANGLE)

LOCATION: LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 21 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, JULY 30 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 Great Clips/Shark Week Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

Driver Kasey Kahne   Hometown Enumclaw, Washington
Age 37                        Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 20th in standings
  • 20 starts
  • 1 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 31 laps led

Career

  • 488 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 173 top-10 finishes
  • 4,638 laps led

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 9 top-10 finishes
  • 219 laps led
SHARK WEEK: This weekend at Pocono Raceway, Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Great Clips/Shark Week Chevrolet SS. For the fifth year in a row, Kahne will drive the special paint scheme that coincides with Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week. Stayed tuned to Hendrick Motorsports’ social channels this week for fun, shark-related content.

WINNER AT INDY: Last Sunday, Kahne captured his 18th NASCAR Cup Series win at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s his first Brickyard 400 win after finishing runner-up to Tony Stewart in 2005 in just his second start at the 2.5-mile speedway. Kahne crossed the yard of bricks in the first position after surviving multiple late-race restarts in the Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS. Click here for photos from the day, and look for more Kahne and Brickyard victory content later this week on Hendrick Motorsports’ social channels.

KAHNE AT POCONO: In Kahne’s 2004 rookie year, he earned the pole award in his first NASCAR Cup Series start at Pocono. Just four years later in 2008, Kahne captured his second pole position at the “Tricky Triangle” and went on to take the checkered flag after leading 69 laps in the 200-lap race. His most recent win at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania, track was in August 2013, when he started from the 18th position and led 66 laps. Kahne has led 219 laps in eight races, ranking him fifth among active drivers for most laps led.

POCONO LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne ranks third in fastest laps run with 311. He’s fourth in quality passes with 952 and fifth in green-flag speed at 163.721 mph. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running inside the top 15 while under green-flag conditions. The driver of the No. 5 Chevy is seventh in green-flag passes with 1,969 and eighth in laps spent in the top 15 with 2,662.

FAN Q&A: Kahne will be participating in a fan question-and-answer session on Sunday at 9:45 a.m. local time in the Tricky Triangle Club at Pocono. For more details on how to see the driver of the No. 5 Great Clips/Shark Week Chevrolet SS and the exclusive ticket package add-on, please visit the Tricky Triangle Club’s website.

RACING ROOTS: HendrickMotorsports.com has released a four-part video series on Kahne titled “Racing Roots.” The videos take you from Kahne’s early beginnings in Enumclaw, Washington, to being part of Hendrick Motorsports today. The video series also looks at his passion away from the asphalt track – his dirt car team, Kasey Kahne Racing. The video series can be viewed here.

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 21                      Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2017 Season

  • 8th in standings
  • 20 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 2 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 11 top-10 finishes
  • 173 laps led

Career

  • 61 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 16 top-five finishes
  • 28 top-10 finishes
  • 531 laps led

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 51 laps led
NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Pocono Raceway, Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS will don the familiar blue-and-yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme. The Atlanta-based company will serve as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 24 team for 24 NASCAR Cup Series races this year.

POCONO STATS: Elliott is set to make his fourth start at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series. In his first three starts, the second-year driver has collected one top-five finish and two top-10s. Elliott averages a starting position of 15.3 and a finishing position of 15.0, and he also has the fifth-best driver rating among active drivers at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania, track with an average score of 101.9.

BRICKYARD REWIND: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native started 16th in Sunday afternoon’s 24th running of the Brickyard 400 at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Elliott wasted little time advancing forward as he climbed to 11th before a red flag was displayed for inclement weather on Lap 12. Once the event resumed, Elliott reported to his NAPA AUTO PARTS team that he felt like his car was experiencing engine issues. During the competition caution on Lap 30, the No. 24 team made an extended pit stop to evaluate the issue and sent Elliott back on the track. The engine issues proved to be terminal as Elliott’s race ended just before the end of Stage 1. The misfortune left the NAPA AUTO PARTS team with a 39th-place finish.

ELLIOTT’S ‘ROAD TO RACE DAY’: The second installment of “Road to Race Day,” the eight-part docuseries about Hendrick Motorsports, premieres Wednesday on go90 and focuses on Elliott and the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team. In the episode, Elliott and his veteran crew seek to temper emotions and remain focused heading into the Daytona 500. The series is directed by Cynthia Hill (“A Chef’s Life,” “Private Violence”) and executive produced by Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights,” “Lone Survivor”).

GET BACK AND GIVE BACK CAMPAIGN: NAPA AUTO PARTS has a long history of supporting the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and their families. In March, the company announced that it had raised more than $2.5 million in 2016 for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) through its annual “Get Back and Give Back” campaign. The campaign kicked off in 2012 and gives NAPA AUTO PARTS patrons the opportunity to contribute to the IFHF by purchasing T-shirts at NAPAonline.com. In addition, customers can purchase an IFHF bucket for $3.99 and receive 20 percent off three or more items that fit inside with NAPA donating $1 to the IFHF for every bucket sold. The company will also donate $1 for each redeemed mail-in rebate for batteries, alternators and starters purchased in July. Customers also have the ability to donate all or a portion of their mail-in rebates directly to the IFHF. One hundred percent of the donation goes to the IFHF’s mission of building nine Intrepid Spirit centers around the country that will provide the most advanced care possible to military personnel suffering from traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions.

NASHVILLE NIGHTS: On Wednesday, Elliott will head to Nashville to promote the upcoming night race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 19. Elliott will make his way around town doing media, stopping by Bass Pro Shops to hide some tickets and he’s scheduled to close out his evening as co-host at the Grand Ole Opry at 7:30 p.m. local time.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 41                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 10th in standings
  • 20 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 188 laps led

Career

  • 563 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 221 top-five finishes
  • 337 top-10 finishes
  • 18,634 laps led

Track Career 

  • 31 starts
  • 3 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 11 top-five finishes
  • 19 top-10 finishes
  • 738 laps led
UNIQUE LOOK AT INDY: Throughout the weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, director and photographer Danny Clinch took over Jimmie Johnson’s Instagram and Twitter accounts​. Clinch’s photos gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at Johnson’s life as a NASCAR Cup Series driver. Click here to see a recap.

DRIVER RATING AT POCONO: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Johnson has the fourth-best driver rating at Pocono with an average score of 103.9 since 2005. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points and is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

POCONO STATS: Johnson’s last win at the “Tricky Triangle” was on June 9, 2013, when he dominated the event, starting first and leading 128 of 200 laps en route to his third win at the 2.5-mile track. In recent outings, Johnson has a pair of sixth-place finishes and three finishes outside the top-35. In June at the track, Johnson had a strong showing in the first stage but an incident on Lap 95 ended his day.

HOMETOWN CONNECTION: Shock specialist Mike Ellershaw hails from Levittown, Pennsylvania, roughly two hours south of Pocono Raceway.

WATKINS GLEN FAN FEST: Johnson will appear Friday, Aug. 4, at the Watkins Glen International Fan Fest taking place inside the track. Johnson will be on stage for a question-and-answer session at 6:45 p.m. local time. See www.theglen.com for more details.

No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 42                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 22nd in standings
  • 20 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 24 laps led

Career

  • 615 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 256 top-10 finishes
  • 8,211 laps led

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 11 top-five finishes
  • 15 top-10 finishes
  • 182 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Saturday, July 29, at 10:45 a.m. local time in the Pocono Raceway media center.

FRONT-RUNNER AT POCONO: Dale Earnhardt Jr. swept both NASCAR Cup Series events in 2014 to earn his two career victories at Pocono Raceway. The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has also finished in the top five in almost a third (32.4 percent) of the races in which he’s competed at the “Tricky Triangle.” The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS also has one pole at the Pennsylvania track, which he earned in August 2007.

LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Earnhardt ranks sixth in green-flag speed (163.474 mph) and ninth in laps in the top 15 (2,652), fastest laps run (114 laps), laps led (93 laps) and quality passes (831).

APPEARANCE SCHEDULE: Earnhardt’s weekend will kick off with Friday’s Fan Fest at Pocono Raceway. Check the Pocono Fan Fest website for updates on driver appearance times. The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy will also participate in a youth autograph session on Saturday at 10:20 a.m. local time and a sold-out Tricky Triangle Club Q&A session on Sunday at 10 a.m. local time.

DOVER TEST: The No. 88 team is participating in a single-day Goodyear tire test at Dover International Speedway on Tuesday, July 25.

NBC SPORTS BROADCASTER: In case you missed it, NBC announced Monday that Earnhardt will join NBC Sports Group’s NASCAR coverage in 2018. Earnhardt’s agreement with NBCUniversal also provides him with opportunities in the company’s media business, including movies, television and podcasts. In addition, NBC is teaming up with the 14-time most popular driver on some of his other business ventures including Dirty Mo Radio and Hammerhead Entertainment. Earnhardt joined a teleconference on Monday afternoon todiscuss the opportunity.

BOWMAN TO NO. 88 IN 2018: One year after his impressive debut with Hendrick Motorsports, the team has named Alex Bowman full-time driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series with a 19-race majority sponsorship from Nationwide beginning in 2018. Bowman will appear on FOX Sports 1’s NASCAR Race Hub Tuesday, July 25, at 6 p.m. ET.

HOMETOWN CONNECTION: The shock specialist for the No. 88 Nationwide team, Jason Seitzinger, hails from Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, which is just over an hour southwest of Pocono Raceway. Seitzinger has been with Hendrick Motorsports for more than 15 years. He initially started at Hendrick Motorsports as a shock specialist on the No. 24 team and was part of Jeff Gordon’s 2004 Brickyard 400 victory.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT POCONO: Hendrick Motorsports has accumulated 17 wins at Pocono Raceway, with the four most recent coming as season sweeps in 2013 (Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne) and 2014 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.). In addition, the organization has 12 pole positions, 67 top-five finishes and 117 top-10 finishes at the 2.5-mile triangle.

POCONO PROWESS: Hendrick Motorsports’ 17 NASCAR Cup Series victories at Pocono have come via seven different drivers: Jeff Gordon (six), Johnson (three), Tim Richmond (three), Earnhardt (two), Geoff Bodine, Terry Labonte and Kahne.

ROAD TO RACE DAY: Hendrick Motorsports has teamed with Complex Networks, Film 45 and Markay Media on an original eight-part documentary series that goes behind the scenes with the organization during the 2016 season. New “Road to Race Day” episodes premiere Wednesdays on the go90 streaming platform. Watch for free by downloading the go90 app on your Apple or Android device, or view the series at go90.com.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,022 top-five finishes and 1,720 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,788 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“I think Pocono’s a really good track for me. I thought we were pretty quick there the first race this year. We weren’t the fastest car there, but we were a top-10 car for sure and we had our brake issues, so we’re looking at making sure that doesn’t happen again. I feel like coming off a win, the confidence, momentum, some of those things can propel you, and I’m hoping it does that for our team.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Pocono

“I thought it was pretty similar. Braking seemed to be a little bit more emphasized this past race. You just don’t have as much spoiler to help slow you down getting in the corners and you are going really fast. That part was a little different, but overall the general tendencies of the cars are very similar to what they were last year.”

Chase Elliott on racing a new aero package at Pocono in June

“I think just the race and hopefully get lucky with how the cautions fall. We had a car that drove really nice there this past time. I’m happy about that and maybe we can take back what we finished practice with and started the race with and I think we will be just fine.”

Elliott on what he can take from Pocono in June

“After our brake issue at Pocono in June, we obviously don’t want that to happen again. We are stepping up our brake package – I wore out the pads last time, which caused the wreck we had. I like going there, I love the area, and I’m looking forward to the new schedule to see how it shakes out. We have a good pit selection thanks to our fourth-place qualifying effort at Indy, so it should be a good show.”

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Pocono

“I feel bad for all the fans because they’ve been really supporting us and this has been a difficult season for them to see us not compete like we should or like we have in the past. I’m hoping that I can turn that around for all our sakes really soon. We’ll go to the next race – Pocono – and keep digging. This is not the worst season by any stretch of the imagination – at least the cars have speed in them, we’ve just had some really bad luck. We’ve got a busy week coming up, but I’m so ready for Pocono. We’ve got Fan Fest Friday, then it’s back behind the wheel Saturday.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his season and heading to Pocono

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Dale Jr. And NBC Sports Ink A Multi-Year Deal

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
NBC Sports Group announced Monday morning that retiring NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. will join the company on a multiyear deal beginning in 2018.

The two-time Daytona 500 winner Earnhardt, 42, who is retiring from full-time competition at the end of the season, has worked in the live television booth a handful of times — including at this year’s “The Clash” preseason opener during Daytona Speedweeks — as well as some XFINITY Series races over the last two years.

NBC broadcasts the second half of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series seasons. NBC also is partnering with Earnhardt on Dirty Mo Media and Hammerhead Entertainment.

“It is a tremendous honor not only to join NBC Sports next year but to begin a new career alongside people who love NASCAR as much as I do,” Earnhardt said in an NBC release. “To be reunited with Steve Letarte, to be able to call legends like Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty teammates rather than just friends, to be able to continue going to the track and connecting with race fans, it’s a privilege I don’t take lightly. I will devote my heart and soul to this broadcast team and pledge my very best to the millions who watch it.”

Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Broadcasting and Sports hinted that Earnhardt Jr. could have an opportunity outside of NASCAR as well.

“We are excited to welcome Dale Jr. to our team – both on and off the track,” Lazarus said. “As a company, NBCUniversal allows for talent to stretch themselves across not just their field of expertise, but across other areas of their interests in the media world.”

NBC executives previously had discussed Earnhardt’s TV potential in conference calls with reporters.

“I think he’d be an excellent broadcaster,” NBC executive Sam Flood said during a call with media members in June. ” … He’s a talented guy and I think he’d be quite an addition to any broadcast because he’s curious, asks good questions and cares deeply about the sport.

“That’s the hallmark of our group. These people care deeply about the sport of NASCAR and the growth of NASCAR. … Junior’s got a bright future, it’s up to him where he wants to do it and what the opportunity might be for him.”

NBC television analyst Jeff Burton, a 21-race winner who retired from NASCAR competition three years ago, also gave his thumbs-up to Earnhardt’s potential behind a microphone.

“It’s difficult (to leave),” Burton conceded. “But it gives you an opportunity to have an impact on the sport and continue to have the relationships you’ve built over a lifetime and quite honestly to talk about something you’d be watching anyway.

“I love watching racing and Junior’s no different. It’s been a great transition (for me) and I think it would be for Junior as well.”

JUNIOR NATION rest easy!  You all will be seeing Dale Jr. beginning in the second half of the 2018 season every Sunday afternoon.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Is Still Preoccupied With Staying Competitive

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
In his last season as a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t have time for nostalgia—even as he makes his last visits to a succession of tracks.

He has simply been too busy trying to find speed in his race cars.

“Well, it’s certainly different to have an end point,” Earnhardt said after Saturday’s final practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “To have a time and a date out there that you know is coming…  For years and years, you just never knew when you were going to retire.

“I still feel like I have to allow myself to get competitive, and I want to go out there and do well in all the practices and all the races, and I want our team to have success. There’s not as much probably stopping and smelling the roses as I would like. I guess if we were maybe running a little better, it would be a little more of that. But we’re just grinding away trying to get our cars better.”

Earnhardt wasn’t happy with the balance of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet during the first two practice sessions, but he was eighth fastest in Happy Hour at 185.147 mph versus 185.854 mph for Erik Jones, who topped the speed chart.

And like every other race car driver, Earnhardt is willing to sacrifice comfort for speed.

As a memento for his final run at the Brickyard, speedway president Doug Boles gave Earnhardt the number “8” from the old pylon that used to display the running order of the cars. Figuratively speaking, Earnhardt doesn’t need reminders to realize he’s in the home stretch of his career.

“We turned the corner and we are coming down the last straightaway and going to these race tracks, and this year is going to wrap up pretty quickly before you know it,” he said. “Just trying to enjoy being behind the wheel. When you are out there driving and beating your head against the wall trying to figure out how to get faster, you’ve got to remind yourself a little bit to enjoy it, enjoy these last few runs, because it’s fun.

“It’s fun driving the car. Just the pure enjoyment of racing and driving is always going to be there, and that’s going to be there long after I retire, and I’ll miss some things about that. So I’m just trying to make sure I’m really taking that in, just the driving part. There is a lot of stuff that you try to take in, but we’re still trying to get faster and get better.

“Farewell tours aren’t quite as graceful as they sound. You can’t really kind of skip through a season, even if it’s your last.”

To make this a more enjoyable “farewell tour” Dale Jr. needs to figure out a way to snag a “farewell victory” before he officially hangs up his helmet for the last time!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!