On Friday in Kansas, Jimmie Johnson was made available to the media. Johnson talked about his season and the relationship with Stewart-Haas Racing with their move to Ford next year.
When asked about loosing the information from Stewart-Haas, Johnson stated, “You know that environment is tricky. Just to be selfishly speaking on Hendrick Motorsports the Stewart-Haas relationship we didn’t get their data. We didn’t share their data, they had ours. So, it was a fantastic situation for them. They had our best stuff and then they have a huge engineering staff and they can take Hendrick’s best equipment and refine it and make it better.”
“There were some things going on that were helpful and data was moving around a little bit, but they really had all the rights to our stuff; we didn’t have the rights to theirs. It’s tricky. If Mr. Hendrick can raise the money to not have that relationship, I think for us, selfishly it is better not to. We would always like to have some people running our engines and trying to do durability stuff on new motors that are coming out,” Johnson continued, “I would imagine having a couple of cars out there we will always have that, but a team at that high of caliber again, I believe we would look really hard before we made that decision again.”
However, Johnson’s comments were not up to the standards of Doug Duchardt, General Manager for Hendrick Motorsports. Duchardt made his way to the media center to clarify Johnson’s earlier comments.
“That is simply that the relationship from a data standpoint was a two-way relationship. The received our information, we received their information. That is the way it had worked from the time I have been at Hendrick Motorsports. That is basically it. We received information from Stewart-Haas when we worked with them. Obviously, when they made their announcement to Ford that changed things. But the bottom line is that as partners we exchanged data between each other,” stated Duchardt.
That relationship was before the announcement of Stewart-Haas earlier this year.
“I have told Jimmie what I was going to come and explain here, but yeah for sure this year they haven’t gotten our and we haven’t gotten theirs. That got shut off I think before Daytona actually. That has been straightforward between Stewart-Haas and us and Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) and I worked through that. That was, from my standpoint, very straightforward.”
Throughout this year, Hendrick Motorsports has built parts for Stewart-Haas to their specifications.
When asked about confidential information, Duchardt stated, “From a technical relationship standpoint the information got cut off, but we build their engines, we build their chassis’ to their specifications. They get certain chassis components from us that we have supplied over the years rear-end housing, lower control arms, truck arms things like that. They continue to receive those to their specifications from our shop.”
Alex Bowman, filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr, was running in the top-five during the Bank of America 500, but blew a tire to end his chances for victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway to finish 39th.
This is Bowman’s fifth race driving the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. In his first race at Loudon in July, he was running strong, but had issues resulting in a 26th place finish. At Michigan, Bowman’s bad luck continued with a 30th place finish. At Chicagoland and Loudon in September, his luck was looking up with a 10th and 14th place finish.
However, that luck at Charlotte went south. On lap 63, Bowman blew a right front tire sending him into the turn four wall where he would collect Casey Mears.
“Yeah, we didn’t hit anything and it’s nobody’s fault. We just must have run something over. It’s unfortunate and I hate it for all the guys. Everyone at Hendrick Motorsports brought a great car to the race track. Again, it’s unfortunate and we are going to try and get back out there and salvage some spots,” said Bowman.
When asked about his run, Bowman was proud to have his name out there among the top drivers.
“They knew we were here that is all that matters. There is nothing more I can do, nothing more anybody on the race team can do. They all do a great job and did everything right, just bad luck.”
Despite having disappointing finishes, Bowman is still having fun. “The one thing that I said I was going to do throughout all these races was to make the most of it and to have the most fun I possibly could,”
Bowman was able to score his first top-10 finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. Bowman is honored to have the opportunity to drive for Rick Hendrick, and is glad that they have given him a chance.
Bowman will finish out the year driving in the No. 88 Chevy, but will step aside at Martinsville to allow Jeff Gordon the chance to drive the car.
Jimmie Johnson scored the victory in the rain-delayed Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to advance to the “Round of 8” in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, his first time as championship contender. This is his third win of 2016.
“Really we just fell back on what we are made of at Hendrick Motorsports. There is a culture there and a belief. It was not fun to experience after all that we have been through but we have seen the cars get stronger, better and faster. We were able to execute all day long here. You were asking about that restart at the end and the track got so slick that I actually found that restarting on the bottom was a little bit better than what I had up top. I was able to throw it down to the inside of the 20 in turn three and make the pass, but restarts were really tricky today. I just really can’t thank everyone enough that supports us and for all the fans that were tuned in today,” said Johnson in a post-race interview about getting back into victory lane.
“Yeah, it was a great second. I think this is one of the toughest tracks there is on the circuit to pass at. It was better during the day than it is at night and that’s a good thing, because we had to go to the back twice, so we were able to make up some ground and finish okay,” said second place finisher, Matt Kenseth.
The first half of the race started with drivers trying to get to the bottom of the track in an effort to feel out their cars. Before the competition caution, many drivers were complaining about ill-handling vehicles. After the competition caution fell, Chase Elliott set sail as the race leader. As the field hit lap 62, Alex Bowman, who was running top-five, but was in an accident with Casey Mears. Kyle Busch had a vibration on the right front tire; he was running second at the time. As a long green flag run became the norm, drivers were becoming more concerned with tires. As green flag stops were underway, Joey Logano hit the wall in the second turn to bring out the caution. As Elliott got caught under the last caution, Denny Hamlin prevailed as the race leader, and set sail in clean air. Kevin Harvick fell off the pace due to losing power bringing out the caution while Logano hit the wall again as the caution flew. Hamlin held the lead at the halfway point with Johnson, Keselowski, Elliott, and Jamie McMurray rounding out the top-five.
As the second half of the race began, Johnson tried to take the lead from Hamlin, but failed. The second half saw a dominate Johnson hold the lead. The caution came out for debris off of the fourth turn. On the restart, Johnson held the lead, but Elliott lost the lead to Martin Truex Jr. The caution flew for a hard hit into the wall by AJ Allmendinger as Elliott was trying to retake second from Truex Jr. On the restart, a huge crash occurred involving Elliott, Austin Dillon, and Menard. As the final pit stops were about to begin, the engine for Hamlin blew up. After the field hit pit road for the final time, Kenseth gained the lead. Truex Jr. stalled on pit road. Kenseth got loose on the restart giving Johnson the lead. However, Johnson was able to set sail on the field to win the race. Hamlin finished second, Kasey Kahne finished third, Newman finished fourth, and Larson rounded out the top-five.
In the first time since 2007 at Kansas, five chase drivers finished 30th or worse. Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Elliott, Logano, and Harvick all has issues in the race. Truex Jr. and Hamlin are the two drivers who are in the good in the Chase Grid heading into Kansas. Austin Dillon and Elliott are three points away from the cut off line, Logano is six points away from the line, and Harvick is eight points away from the line. All drivers were involved in accidents in Charlotte.
Johnson led the most laps in the Bank of America 500 at 155 laps. Elliott led 103 laps, Hamlin led 52 laps, Harvick led 12 laps, Logano led three laps, Bowyer led two laps, and Newman and Busch led one lap. There were a total of 17 lead changes among these nine drivers.
The average speed of the race was 134.929 mph. The time of the race was 3 hours, 42 minutes,, and 47 seconds. The caution flag flew eight times for 51 laps. The margin of victory was 1.474 seconds.
Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the “Round of 12” will be Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400. Motor Racing Network and NBCSN will have the call.
It was announced today that Maaco will join Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Maaco is a Charlotte-based company and provides auto paint and collision repair company. They will join Furniture Row for one race as the rear quarter-panel sponsor.
“We’re proud to partner with Martin Truex Jr., and Furniture Row Racing for the Charlotte race. He’s a great driver, and even more important, a great representative for the hundreds of Maaco franchisees who will be cheering him on this Saturday night,” said Jason Ryan, President of Maaco Paint and Collision.
“Anytime you can have a Charlotte-based company displayed on your race car it carries a special feeling of pride, knowing that you are being supported locally in the hub of NASCAR racing. It is even more special to have Maaco, a leader in its industry, on our car at a Charlotte Motor Speedway race, which is not only their home track but also a home track for a majority of drivers competing this weekend at the historic oval,” said Truex Jr.
“From a business standpoint, when you have an industry-leading company such as Maaco supporting your team it can only serve as a resume builder while seeking additional sponsorship,” said Joe Garrone, president of Furniture Row Racing.
Joining Furniture Row in announcing new sponsors, Hendrick Motorsports joined in the day of sponsorship announcements.
UniFirst and Hendrick Motorsports struck an eight year agreement to sponsor the no. 5 Chevrolet. UniFirst is a workwear and textile service company. The contract will run through 2023.
Unifiers will be the primary Sprint Cup sponsor for 2016 and 2017, with the sponsorship increasing to three primary races annually from 2018-2023. They will be one of the full season associate sponsors of the No. 5.
The primary sponsorship for 2016 will debut at Talladega Superspeedway and Martinsville Speedway.
“UniFirst is excited to be a primary sponsor of Kasey and Hendrick Motorsports,” said Adam Soreff, director of marketing and communications for UniFirst. “This partnership is a great opportunity for our company because Hendrick Motorsports is one of the premier -- and most highly respected -- teams in professional auto racing. UniFirst’s broad customer base, which includes 300,000 business locations across North America, employs thousands of enthusiastic NASCAR fans, so this relationship is a natural fit. We’re extremely proud to have the UniFirst brand represented in such a dynamic atmosphere.”
“When a sponsor feels strongly enough to commit for eight years, it sends a clear message,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “There’s tremendous excitement about the opportunities our team and our sport present for UniFirst. They have a reputation for world-class service, the highest quality products and services, and having incredible people. We share a similar mindset and culture, and we’re looking forward to working together across our entire organization.”
“UniFirst will be a great addition to our partners at Hendrick Motorsports,” Kahne said. “They’re a reliable company that we’ve worked with at Kasey Kahne Racing for a long time, so I was happy to hear they are coming on board. I’m looking forward to having them as part of the No. 5 team and working with them in the years to come.”
Jimmie Johnson will go to the backup for Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Johnson had ran 17 laps in the session before making the outside wall. An already unpredictable race became even more unpredictable for the veteran driver from Hendrick Motorsports.
“I just got wide and evidently the track is dirty wide. I didn’t have anything go wrong, I just got wide and the car just started going straight and it wouldn’t turn. I was in the marbles. I couldn’t see the line where the track was clean and dirty and it just kept going straight and straight and straight and hit the wall,” said Johnson.
Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team has until the end of the final practice, which ends at 2:50 pm, to get the backup car ready and to run some laps before qualifying at 6:45 pm eastern.