Getting run into by teammate Jimmie Johnson wasn’t how Dale Earnhardt Jr. envisioned beginning his retirement tour, but that’s the situation Earnhardt found himself in during Sunday’s NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway.
Earnhardt was running the upper groove around the three-quarter mile track with 43 laps remaining in the Toyota Owners 400, when Johnson’s No. 48 car abruptly body-slammed the No. 88 car as Earnhardt sped off Turn 2. The contact was significant and pushed Earnhardt into the wall, causing further damage.
Johnson was on newer tires and attempting to pass Earnhardt, who was on much older tires due to an aggressive pit strategy employed by crew chief Greg Ives. Earnhardt said spotter T.J. Majors had alerted him that Johnson was passing.
“(Johnson) said he didn’t see us,” Earnhardt said. “He had pitted and got tires and we were out there running around the top and weren’t ready to pit yet. He said he didn’t get any notice that he had a car outside.
“It was an explosion.”
Johnson took full responsibility for the accident, immediately radioing to his No. 48 team that he didn’t know Earnhardt was to his outside and then apologizing post-race. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates spoke on pit road after the race concluded to review the collision and there were no hard feelings between the two.
Earnhardt announced Tuesday he would retire from full time racing at the end of the current year. He hoped the news would spark a turnaround for what has been a lackluster start to the season.
Instead, Richmond represented a continuation of what has been frustrating season where the No. 88 Chevrolet has regularly lacked competitiveness, and Earnhardt often inflicted by bad luck when he’s had a car possessing speed. On Sunday, Earnhardt spent much of the race outside the top 15, prompting Ives’ pit strategy gamble.
Earnhardt now has finished 30th or worse in five of nine races this season, and ranks 24th in the points standings. He trails Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by 60 points for the final provisional playoff berth.
“Just terrible luck,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t know what to do. But, we were probably going to finish anywhere around 10th to 15th today — not all that awesome — but we just had such terrible luck.”
Raceline Direct has a new Dale Earnhardt Jr. T-shirt available, commemorating his retirement featuring a quote from his press conference. See it here: https://www.racelinedirect.com/4874-JUN-prod.html
Hendrick Motorsports made the huge announcement today that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made the decision to retire from NASCAR after the 2017 season is over. ESPN shared that Dale has decided to move on, but he will finish out the season and hopefully going out with a bang. His contract expires at the end of this season, and so far, Hendrick Motorsports has not shared who will replace him on the track. This announcement should be coming soon as well.
Just one month ago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed that he had plans to talk to team owner Rick Hendrick about extending his contract, but for some reason, that plan changed. Carl Edwards made a decision not long ago to move on, and at the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr. shared his thoughts about leaving the racing world.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. also owns a team in the Xfinity Series. Racing is in his blood, and he will likely continue to be part of the racing world in some way, even if he isn’t going to be on the track each week. Earnhardt was voted the most popular driver 14 times by NASCAR fans since his racing career began in 1999. He is a third-generation driver, and he made his mark on the XFINITY tour before joining NASCAR. The start of his career was hard with the death of his father in a last-lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. After leaving his father’s racing team that his stepmother runs, Dale Earnhardt Jr. started driving for team owner Rick Hendrick and is now in his tenth season driving for them.
Hendrick Motorsports announced the news on Tuesday in a press release, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn’t given his own statements and explained his decision. Everyone is waiting to hear what he has to say about this life changing choice. Earnhardt should be giving a statement to fans at some point.
Hendrick Motorsports founder and owner Rick Hendrick said Tuesday he’s talking with his sponsors about who will replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car for 2018 and beyond.
“We’ve got a lot of people to consider, meaning partners, like our sponsors, and we’ve just been talking to them,” Hendrick said. “Priority one is to get everything prepared, get the day over with, and then we’ll take the time to decide what we do there.”
Hendrick Motorsports has a couple of talented young drivers under contract already.
Jimmie Johnson still knows how to get to Victory Lane at Texas, even from the back of the field on a track that had changed significantly since his first six wins there.
And while heating up in the cockpit because of an issue with getting fluids during the race.
“I’m not feeling the best, but we got into Victory Lane,” Johnson said before going to the infield care center to get three bags of IV fluids after his 81st career victory.
“I feel much better now,” he said after the treatment.
Crew chief Chad Knaus said there was some kind of malfunction with the system in the car, but wasn’t sure what the problem was.
“Jimmie felt like it was an isolated situation,” Knaus said. “We got him cooled off and he’s looking good. He’s ready to go have a weekend off like the rest of us.”
Johnson, who last year won his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series season championship, charged under Joey Logano with 16 laps to go to take the lead. The Hendrick Motorsports driver kept his No. 48 Chevrolet in front.
“I guess I remembered how to drive; and I guess this team remembered how to do it,” Johnson said. “I’m just real proud of this team. What a tough track and tough conditions. We were really in our wheelhouse and we were just able to execute all day.”
This was the first Cup race in Texas since the 1 1/2-mile facility was completely repaved and changes made to Turns 1 and 2 earlier this year. It was Johnson’s seventh victory at Texas, six in the last 10 races there.
Kyle Larson, the season points leader, finished second for the fourth time this year, but also won at California. Logano, polesitter Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five.
Johnson had to start at the back of the 40-car field because of a tire change after a spin in qualifying. He had qualified 24th.
“Oh, probably on the second or third run I knew we were in good shape. From there, off we went,” he said. “It was so tough those first 23 laps in traffic. The air was very turbulent, the track wasn’t very clean.”
Johnson’s only top-10 finish in the first six races this season had been ninth at Phoenix. Earnhardt, his Hendrick teammate, had his first top-five finish since a runner-up at Pocono last June, not long before he missed the last half of the season because of lingering concussions symptoms.
Ryan Blaney won the first two stages and gave Wood Brothers Racing, the oldest active team in NASCAR, its longest front-running car in a race in 35 years. The 23-year-old Blaney finished 12th after leading 148 of 334 laps, the first time the team led more than 100 laps in a race since 1982.
Blaney first got the lead on the second early restart on lap 16, with a somewhat bold move around the outside of Harvick going through the reconfigured Turns 1 and 2, where the banking was reduced and the track widened.
During a caution on a few laps before the end of the second stage on lap 170, Blaney stayed on the track for a shot to win the stage while other cars pitted. Blaney restarted 20th after that stage and his stop, but after working back into the top 10, he overslid his pit on the last caution.
“That last pit stop was pretty discouraging,” Blaney said. “I don’t know what it was there at the end of segment two and that made everybody have split strategies, and we got in the back and couldn’t pass anybody. It was terrible to try to pass people.”
A blistering first in qualifying. A surprising first in the Xfinity Series race.
And a steady, tenacious first when it really mattered on Sunday.
Kyle Larson was second to nobody in his home state.
Larson persevered through four late restarts to win at Fontana, adding his second career victory to his overall Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series points lead.
“Lots of fun to be Kyle Larson right now,” Larson said with a grin. “Our race cars are really fast in Xfinity and Cup, so it’s a blast to show up to the race track every week.”
Larson finished second in each of the past three races, but the Sacramento-area native’s Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was the class of the field at Auto Club Speedway all weekend long.
He claimed the second pole of his career Friday, and he also won the Xfinity race Saturday in a result that surprised him much more than his Cup triumph. The 24-year-old prodigy became just the fourth driver to sweep a race weekend at Fontana.
Fontana’s bumpy 2-mile track particularly suits Larson’s skills, and he was unshakable during the late drama and jockeying typical to the five-wide asphalt one hour east of Los Angeles.
After surging up from fourth to first with four new tires before the final caution, he made one last outstanding restart and cruised through two overtime laps to win.
“This is just amazing,” Larson said. “We have been so good all year long, three seconds in a row. I’ve been watching all the TV, like, ‘He doesn’t know how to win.’ But we knew how to win today, so that was good.”
Brad Keselowski was second, and Clint Bowyer came in third for his best finish since June 2015 and his first top-five finish in 52 races. Martin Truex Jr. was fourth after challenging Larson aggressively, and Joey Logano roared up to fifth.
Larson added to his other career victory, which came on NASCAR’s other 2-mile oval at Michigan.
A skirmish between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano left Busch with a cut on his forehead following Sunday’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Busch and Logano made contact racing to the finish of the Kobalt 400, resulting in Busch spinning off Turn 4 and down pit road. Unhappy with what transpired, Busch waited for Logano to circle around and park on pit road where he then sought him out and threw a punch at Logano before being wrestled down by crew members for Logano’s No. 22 team. It was inclusive whether Busch connected with the punch.
NASCAR officials quickly intervened to break the fracas up, with one official forcefully lifting Busch up and removing him from the scene.
Despite this, neither Kyle Busch nor Joey Logano is likely to face discipline over their roles in the fight following Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said Monday on SirusXM NASCAR Radio.
“We’ve always said that we’ve got to take everything and make sure we look at all the video,” O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I would say from our initial assessment last night in looking at what happened, as far as on track, I don’t think we saw anything that was intentional by any means. We’ll continue to review that. We’ve got to have discussions with both drivers. We talked to some folks postrace as well.”
NASCAR’s stance on drivers fighting has softened in recent years.
NASCAR’s preference is that if two drivers have issue with one another, their teams allow them to resolve it how they best see fit and crew members do not interject or escalate the proceedings. But if an altercation does become physical between drivers, it is acceptable for crew members to intercede and break up the fracas.
“What our position has been, we want to leave it in the drivers’ hands,” O’Donnell said. “What we don’t want to see, and the drivers have asked for this, which is very fair, is a crew member initially approaching a driver or initiating some type of altercation with a driver.
“Just early review of this (incident). This was two drivers with crew members kind of stepping back, and once something happens, a crew is taught, which I think is right, that if someone comes up in your pit box and attacks your guy, you have the right to try to break that up or bring it to a stop. That was the initial review that we saw from the crew members. Again, there is still other video out there that we’ve got to look at. When we talked postrace to the race team, that kind of confirmed what we had seen.”
If after its review is concluded and NASCAR determines those involved deserve punishment, any penalties would be announced on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Not only can we enjoy the thrill of watching the amazing Nascar Races, but now we can bring it into our homes. There are countless ways where we can virtually interact with our favorite drivers and take part in the amazing sport. The entertainment industry is better than ever that it will feel like we’re right on the race track. Whichever game system that you have, there will definitely be a Nascar version so that you can be part of the games too. Bring out your Playstation 1, 2, or 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo, Gameboy, Wii, IPhone, IPad, Android, because whichever device you have there will be a Nascar game readily available so you can take part in the action. These games allow you to pick your favorite cars and drivers so that you can ride on your favorite track. The options are endless and you don’t have to play the same race twice! Don’t have any of these electronics? No problem, head to your local arcade and find an even more thrilling experience. You will be able to find a Nascar stimulation system allowing you to sit in a char that is virtually connected to your race, which allows you to feel every sharp curve or turn. Not only would you be able be the driver, but now you can feel like the driver as well. Every year these games are constantly being updates so that you can have the best experience possible. Whats on the market now? Keep a look out for Nascar Heat Evolution and Forza Motorsport 6 as the newest, best possible Nascar experience you are able to have.
The year has just begun and we are just waiting for the races to begin. Last year we many good races and the level is raised. We expect top speed races from our favorite drivers. So far its looking like Chase Elliot is off to a great start. By winning his second consecutive poll in a row for the 59th Daytona 500 poll, it’s looking like it has become a family tradition.Chase Elliot was able to finish a lap in record time of 192.8 miles per hour. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Chase Elliot will both be starting off Daytona 500 with high expectations. This will also be Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s return after his unfortunate concussion last year and we are happy to say that he has been able to make a full recovery. After many treatments and a lot of care, taking a break was good for him and has allowed him to start off the year fresh. Daytona is where it all begins and it doesn’t stop there. There are many more action packed races to look forward to this coming year and it will take place all across the country. Here’s what we can expect for some major races.
Nascar Cup Series Schedule 2017:
February 18 – Daytona International Speedway – Unlimited
February 19 – Daytona International Speedway – Daytona 500 Qualify
February 23 – Daytona International Speedway – Dual
February 26 – Daytona 500
March 5 – Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 12 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 19 – Phoenix International Raceway
March 26 – Auto Club Speedway
April 2 – Martinsville Speedway
April 9 – Texas Motor Speedway
April 23 – Bristol Motor Speedway
April 30 – Richmond International Raceway
May 7 – Talladega Superspeedway
May 13 – Kansas Speedway
May 20 – Charlotte Motor Speedway – Nascar All-Star Race
May 28 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
June 4 – Dover International Speedway
June 11 – Pocono Raceway
June 18 – Michigan International Speedway
June 25 – Sonoma Raceway
July 1 – Daytona International Speedway
July 8 – Kentucky Speedway
July 16 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway
July 23 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
July 30 – Pocono Raceway
August 6 – Walkins Glen International
August 13 – Michigan International Speedway
August 19 – Bristol Motor Speedway
September 9 – Richmond International Raceway
September 17 – Chicagoland Speedway
September 24 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway
October 1 – Dover International Speedway
October 7 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
October 15 – Talladega Superspeedway
October 22 – Kansas Speedway
October 29 – Martinsville Speedway
November 5 – Texas Motor Speedway
November 12 – Phoenix International Raceway
November 19 – Homestead-Miami Speedway
The guidelines are in and driver security is toughening up. Safety is always a priority when it comes to Nascar and now the rules are made to make prevent future accidents from happening. This will not only improve the sport but it will also guarantee that our drivers will be able to drive longer and compete more in the future. What are the new rules you ask that are making the Nascar experience more beneficial to all involved? The new changes now prohibit drivers to replace damaged car parts that occur during racing accidents. These include panels, hoods, splitters, etc. Sheet metal, however, will be given exactly five minutes to replace as soon as the driver enters the pit stop. Although, if replacements require excess care or excess workers, then the driver will be prohibited from re-entering the race. This includes the car going behind the pit wall or exceeding the allotted five minutes. In previous races, drivers were able to replace any car parts with zero time limit and no restrictions. As you can see the rules have really changed and it has become more specific as to what the driver is or is not able to do and for how long. This will prevent drivers returning to the race with an unqualified car that may not be able to handle to speed and agility that Nascar races require. We expect that these rules make huge improvements to the future safety of drivers and prevent many injuries from happening. We wouldn’t want to see another one of our favorite drivers on a hospital bed with a concussion. I certainly would not.
The Daytona race is coming closer than we expect. The race is scheduled in Florida for the end of this month, February 26th to be exact. Are you guys all ready? Hopefully the drivers will be. Make sure you have all your favorite driver’s gear to support them though this race! We are expecting a good race this year featuring all of our favorite drivers. We can definitely expect Truex to be revved up this year with his near almost win in 2016. He’ll be wanting to make a comeback for sure. This year is going to be slightly different from last. Nascar has been putting a lot more emphasis and making sure these drivers are racing safely and have put extra guidelines requiring them to do so. It was probably Dale Jr. recent concussion and countless other driver incidents that are giving fans a scare that Nascar sees a need to toughen up the rules. There is a new damaged vehicle policy put in place to help ensure safety for the current drivers. Nascar also announced the length of this coming race which is consisting of two 60 lap stages with an 80 lap stage to finish it off. The point system is expected to be very similar to previous years as well for the third and final stage. However, this year the top ten drivers to finish the first two laps will be awarded points as well. With these improvements we expect this race to be even better than the last. The drivers are getting ready, are you?
The anticipated day that we have all been waiting for has finally returned. Dale Jr. is making a comeback to the raceway and this time it will be better than ever. He, as well as all of us, are looking forward to his return, happy to hear that he has made a full recovery. It has been over 7 months since the last time Dale Jr. has been in a race, and it’s been hard to continue without him. On December 8th, Dale Jr. got the all clear from his doctor to continue racing and now he’s almost running to join his competitors. Unfortunately we wont be able to see Dale Jr.’s return as soon as we would like. He won’t be able to compete in the “Clash at Daytona”, which we will all be tuning in to see. We hope to see him with a full recovery sweeping his competitors away on February 23 racing in the Daytona 500. Mark your calendars everyone! The real races have finally begun.