After Jimmie Johnson’s seventh Cup
title last season, the most successful
driver of NASCAR’s modern era
shrugged off questions about how long
he would continue. A more definitive
answer came in June, when Hendrick
Motorsports announced he had signed a
contract extension that will continue his
assault on the record book for another
Another three years for Jimmie Johnson to chase records
MORE TIME FOR SEVEN-TIME
After a series of retirement
announcements by its top
stars, NASCAR had to be
relieved by Johnson’s
declaration that “I’m as
hungry as I’ve ever been.”
The risk-vs-reward ratio is a moving target
every World Rally driver must grapple with.
For Chris Meeke, a win in Mexico was offset
by a series of crashes, prompting his Citroen
team to bench him for Rally Poland. Harsh...
It’s no secret that NASCAR’s
efforts to spike interest in the
championship-deciding rounds of
the Cup Series haven’t matched
expectations, despite format tweaks
to the Chase, or “Playoffs” as the
NASCAR postseason is now known.
For 2018, NASCAR turned its
attention to the calendar, making
arguably the biggest shake-up yet.
In an effort to polish the luster of
the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis,
NASCAR has shifted the event to
Sept. 9 and made it the cutoff race
for making the playoffs. Richmond
moves from the regular-season
finale to the second race of the
playoffs. And, in the biggest change
of all, Charlotte – which will be the
first elimination race of the playoffs –
will now be run on the road course.
“Drivers had better be ready for
the most physically and mentally
challenging race in the Playoffs,”
asserted Speedway Motorsports
boss Marcus Smith. Maybe...but
will the fans be ready too?
Charlotte’s infield road course, last
used for pro racing by the ALMS in
2000, will be the first right-and-left-turn playoff round for NASCAR.
RIGHT TURN TO PLAYOFFS
Novelty value of NASCAR at
Indy has worn off; will playoff
implications boost Brickyard?
He might not be
Johnson is clearly
keeping track of
them. At Michigan,
his helmet bore
the images of the
next two legends in
his sights on the
all-time victory list
– 84-time winners
Bobby Allison and
Darrell Waltrip. PARTNERSHIP FOR THE AGES
Johnson said he hopes to persuade
crew chief Chad Knaus to call the
shots for him for the duration.
s three seasons – at least.
“When the fire does go out, I’ll step
down,” said Johnson. “I don’t have a
framework now on a timeline. I just
know that I’ve got three more years
of trying to go out there and win
championships and win races.”
One more championship would lift
him out of the three-way tie for most all
time he shares with Dale Earnhardt and
Richard Petty. On wins, at the time of
writing Johnson was tied with Cale
Yarborough for sixth on the all-time list
with 83, one behind Bobby Allison and
Darrell Waltrip. Longtime teammate Jeff
Gordon is nine ahead ≠– but for how long?
“I’ve never been driven by stats, but
it’s hard to ignore where I sit on the wins
list and not let my competitive spirit kick
in and want more,” Johnson admitted.
“Eight championships, I would love to
stand alone at that, but that is all
predictable and easy stuff. For me, it’s
really about racing. I just love to race.”