Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Darrell Wallace Jr. Wins NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Greenville Pickens Speedway

Darrell Wallace Jr.Wins NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Greenville Pickens Speedway

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season opener in South Carolina had some West Coast flavor with a handful of drivers with Southern California roots entered in the race.
Jason Bowles, the reigning NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion from Ontario, started third, but was involved in an accident and finished 25th.
Mackena Bell, who used to race late models at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, posted a 19th place finish after starting the race in 26th.
Sergio Pena, who put up an impressive second-place finish in the NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown in Irwindale in January, crashed midway through the East Series season opener. He collided with John Salemi on lap 65 and ended up with a 27th-place finish.
Patrick Long, an American Le Mans Series driver from Thousand Oaks, had the best finish of the drivers from Southern California. He was seventh.
Darrell Wallace Jr. won the race on a green-white-checker finish becoming the youngest driver and the first African-American driver to win an East Series race.

Photo: Jason Bowles, driver of the No. 38 Bestway Disposal Ford and the reigning NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion, crashed in the East Series season opener in South Carolina. He finished 25th. (Peter Taylor/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jonathan Gomez's car doesn't pass inspection, drops to last place in West Series season opener

Jonathan Gomez, driver of the No. 22 Chevrolet that finished second in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season opener at All American Speedway in Roseville, was penalized and dropped to 23rd and last place.
His car was found to be in violations of three NASCAR specifications during post-race inspection. One of those violations was that the shock absorbers on his car would not extend to a specified distance.
Gomez’s crew chief Craig Raudman has been suspended for the next two West Series races and until May 26 by NASCAR. He was also placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2010.
All the other drivers in the race, except for winner Paulie Harraka, moved up a spot in the final order. Rookie Josh Combs moved up to second, followed by Gary Lewis, David Mayhew and Luis Martinez Jr.

Photo: The No. 22 Chevrolet driven by Jonathon Gomez did not pass post-race inspection in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series season opener at All American Speedway in Roseville. He was penalized by NASCAR and dropped from second to 23rd and last place. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Paulie Harraka wins NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season opener

NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver Paulie Harraka won the season-opening race at All American Speedway in Roseville on Saturday night.
He beat Jonathan Gomez on a green-white-checker finish. Harraka led 125 laps, including the final 10 that went over the scheduled 150 of the race.
Harraka and Gomez banged and battled for the lead after the first caution of the race. Harraka led the first 16 laps of the race, but Gomez took the lead on lap 17 and held it for the next 32 laps.
Harraka won for the second time in a row at All American Speedway. He also won the 2009 West Series season finale at the Roseville track.

NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver Jonathan Gomez finishes second at All American Speedway

Jonathan Gomez led for 35 laps of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series season opener at All American Speedway in Roseville on Saturday night.
The race ended with a green-white-checker flag finish, with Gomez in second trying to chase down Paulie Harraka.
Harraka held on for the win, his second in a row at All American Speedway.
Gomez said he was little too aggressive in turn 2 on the final restart and that cost him the win.
Still, Gomez said his team has great momentum to start the West Series season.

One minute with NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver Eric Holmes

Eric Holmes, a two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion, came into the 2010 season with high hopes and a fast car. But he collided with Jack Sellers midway through the season opener at All American Speedway in Roseville on Saturday night and finished 21st.
Before the race, Holmes, a driver for Bill McAnally Racing, talked about his expectations for the 2010 West Series season, some of the changes to his team, including a new crew chief, and why he and his wife decided to name their new daughter Macy Parker Holmes.
Her initials are MPH, if that is any clue to how she got her name.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Paulie Harraka starts where he left off in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West

ROSEVILLE – Paulie Harraka won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season opener at All American Speedway on Saturday night on a green-white-checker flag finish.
Harraka won the pole, but Jonathan Gomez took the early lead in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge. The two drivers battled for the lead throughout the race. Harraka was able to pull away at the end. But a caution with two laps to go in the race turned the 150-lapper into a three-lap shootout.
“The car was really good,” said Harraka, the 2009 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the West Series. “We banged wheels a lot, but we had fun.”
Harraka, from Wayne, N.J. and driver of the No. 12 Toyota for Bill McAnally Racing, won the 2009 West Series season finale race at All American Speedway and has won three of the past four West Series races.
Gomez, a driver from Twin Falls, Idaho, finished second. He was followed by rookie Josh Combs from Sacramento, Gary Lewis and David Mayhew.
The race went 10 laps over its scheduled 150. Gomez said, running in second with a green-white-checker flag finish looming, he thought he still had a chance to beat Harraka and win the race.
“I did. I really did,” Gomez said. “I thought I could pinch him down. I really thought I had a chance.”
Newhall’s Greg Pursley looked like he was on his way to a top-three finish, but was spun out on the last lap. He went from third place to seventh.
Eric Holmes, Harraka’s teammate at Bill McAnally Racing and the winner of the spring race at Roseville last year, collided with Jack Sellers midway through the race. Holmes’ car suffered severe damage on the right side and went into the pits for repairs. He finished 10 laps downs and in 21st.
Derek Thorn, a driver from Bakersfield, won the Spears Stockcar Racing League Southwest Tour Series season opener at All American Speedway.
Thorn won the pole and the Mo’s Gold 125. Frazier Park’s M.K. Kanke, the reigning Spears SRL champion and the second-fastest qualifier, blew his motor on the first lap of the race and had to withdraw.
Thomas Martin, a driver from nearby Auburn, was second. He was followed by Josh Combs from Sacramento in third, Ryan Foster from Redding in fourth and rookie Carlos Vieira from Livingston in fifth.

Photo: Paulie Harraka takes a victory lap with the checkered flag in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season opener at All American Speedway in Roseville. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Harraka prepares for NASCAR West Series madness in Roseville

In addition to racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Paulie Harraka is a student at Duke University in North Carolina.

The West Series opens at All American Speedway in Roseville on Saturday night. While the Duke basketball team is experiencing its annual March Madness, Harraka will be experiencing NASCAR madness this weekend.

Harraka won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in 2009 and is returning to the site of his season-finale dominant performance, winning at Roseville to close out the 2009 season.

Go to NASCAR Home Tracks to read more about Harraka as he prepares for the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season opener.

Photo: While the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown didn't pan out the way Paulie Harraka hoped, he enters the 2010 season on a roll. (Getty Images)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bryan Herta Autosport expanded, improved for Firestone Indy Lights season

The Firestone Indy Lights season opens in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday and Bryan Herta Autosport will have two cars in the race.
Drivers Stephan Wilson and Sebastian Saavedra give Bryan Herta Autosport, the team owned by Valencia’s Bryan Herta, a new look and a higher expectations. Herta is entering his second season as an owner in the Indy Lights series. His team expanded from one driver to two.
Wilson is the younger brother of Izod IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson. Saavedra is a two-time winner in Indy Lights and comes over from Andretti Autosport after winning the rookie of the year in 2009.
Wilson made six starts in the Indy Lights series last year, his best finish a fourth place in Toronto.
“I am really looking forward to this weekend,” said the 20-year-old Wilson. “I had a so-so race here last year. It was my first race and only my second day in the car after a shakedown test. I jumped in with a very steep learning curve but I felt we were competitive even straight out of the box. Unfortunately, I made a few unlucky mistakes that cost me some decent finishes. I am looking forward to coming back with a bit more experience and with a really competitive team in Bryan Herta Autosport.”
Wilson, driving for the First Racing/Walker Racing team, finished 13th in one of the doubleheader races in the season-opener at St. Petersburg last year.
Wilson said his pre-season testing with Bryan Herta Autosport has gone well.
“The first time I drove the car I was impressed with how well it handled,” Wilson said. “I have gelled really well with the team and enjoy working with my engineer Brian Page. I am very excited to have Sebastian as a teammate. He brings a lot of experience with a full season of Indy Lights and I know that is going to help me. He knows what a good car feels like and what we want to achieve.”
Saavedra won the pole and finished second in one of the season-opening races in St. Petersburg last year.
“St. Petersburg is one of my favorite tracks, and I am very confident coming here for the second time after the good results last year,” said the 19-year-old Saavedra. “Testing has gone great. Our main objective was to get to know each other and start working together, for me to learn how Steve [Newey] works and for him to know how I work. I am very happy with how everything has come together.”
Newey and Herta are ownership partners in the team. Part of the team’s expansion in 2010 was to enter Saavedra in the Indianapolis 500.
“It is great that he is entered in the Indy 500,” Wilson said. “It really strengthens the whole team. It will be exciting to be there and witness my team compete and, hopefully, it will give me a lot of experience as that is what I am striving to do next year. For now, I am looking forward to the race this weekend. This is one of my favorite tracks on the calendar and I am looking for a good finish here. I am confident we will be a really strong force to be reckoned with this season.”
Saavedra said he has enjoyed working with his new teammate and preparing for the Indy Lights season opener.
“My relationship with Stefan is great,” Saavedra said. “He is a very good driver who wants to win and that has helped us to have a very good relationship. We have been working well together to make the cars as good as possible. We found some very interesting things at our last test at Sebring which worked very well and will help us this weekend. I think we both will have cars capable of winning. We have the right tools, the right engineering and the right mentality to come to this first race.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Three minutes with Izod IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves

Izod IndyCar Series Helio Castroneves, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and a Dances With The Stars champion, almost missed last year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
He was involved in a tax evasion case in Florida and was acquitted of most of the charges the weekend of the race. He flew from Florida to California, qualified for the race and finished seventh.
He called last year’s Grand Prix of Long Beach a renewal, to his racing career, his life and his focus. He went on to win the Indianapolis 500, his first since winning back-to-back at the Brickyard in 2001-02, and added another win at Texas Motor Speedway.
He also had a daughter, Mikaella, in December with his girlfriend Adriana Henao.
And of course, he won Dancing With The Stars in 2007.
Castroneves was in Los Angeles on Tuesday and met with members of the media at ESPN Zone next to Staples Center. He talked about what he remembers most about his return to the IndyCar Series in Long Beach last year, what he would like his daughter’s first word to be and who he thinks will win this year Dancing With The Stars.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ryan Daniel starts quest for back-to-back late mode titles at Orange Show Speedway

Ryan Daniel won the late model championship at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino in 2009. He returns in search of a repeat title in mind, but he will have a formidable field to contend with, one that includes his dad.
Daniel is a bit of a late bloomer. He didn't start racing stock cars at Orange Show Speedway until he was 28. But he was a quick learner. winning rookie of the year in 2006 at the track. He has also proven to be a patient student, learning from his dad, Ron Daniel, about the delicacies of racing stock cars on a tiny track like Orange Show Speedway.
Go to the K&N website for more on Ryan Daniel and his plans for the 2010 season at Orange Show Speedway.

Photo: Ryan Daniel won the late model championship at Orange Show Speedway in 2009. (Mary Secord)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ron Daniel preparing to race with his son at Orange Show Speedway

It's been 25 years since Ron Daniel raced a full season at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino.
His son, Ryan, won the late model championship at Orange Show Speedway last year. Ron Daniel worked as his son's spotter some races. He entered eight races in 2009, finishing second twice.
The elder Daniel has decided to race the full late model schedule in 2010 at Orange Show Speedway, mainly to get a chance to compete with his son and challenge him for the track championship.
Go to the K&N website for more on Ron Daniel's plans for the 2010 season.

Photo: Ron Daniel, left, started eight late model races at Orange Show Speedway in 2009. His son, Ryan, right, won the late model championship at Orange Speedway Speedway last year. Ryan Jr. helps celebrate one of his dad's wins. (Mary Secord)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ohio Sprint car driver looking for another championship, 100 wins

Tim Allison, a Sprint car driver from Ohio, has 95 career wins and 19 career championships. He has raced against Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne and is the winningest 360 Sprint car class driver in the history of Eldora Speedway, the track owned by Stewart.
Allison will be racing at three tracks in search of his 100th win and his 20th championship. He won the Sprint car championship at Waynesfield Motorsport Park in 2009 and was the runner-up at Limaland Motorsports Park, where he holds five track championships in Sprint cars.
Go to the K&N website for more on Allison and his Sprint car racing career.

Photo: Tim Allison won the Sprint car championship at Waynesfield Motorsports Park in 2009. (Mike Campbell)

NASCAR K&N Pro Series TV schedule

The NASCAR K & N Pro Series West and East races will be televised on Speed Channel, as will select races from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
The NASCAR K & N Pro Series opens March 27 at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif. The race will be broadcast on Speed on April 8.
All the K & N Pro Series races will be broadcast on a tape-delay basis and will be one hour in length. The first broadcast will be the K & N Pro Series East season opener from Greenvile Pickens Speedway in South Carolina.
The K & N Pro Series West race from Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, scheduled for July 3, will be broadcast on Speed on July 15.
Go to the K & N website for more on the TV schedule.

Photo: NASCAR K&N Pro Series cars lined the infield following their qualifying runs for the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in January. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Karen Stoffer sets NHRA pro stock motorcycle national record

National Hot Rod Assn. pro stock motorcycle racer Karen Stoffer set a national record during the elimination rounds at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., but lost her second-round race to Shawn Gann.
Stoffer, a graduate of St. Genevieve High School in Sun Valley, turned a lap at 6.847 seconds and set the national record in her first-round race against Redell Harris.
Stoffer earned the top-qualifying spot for today’s elimination rounds by laying down a lap of 6.855 seconds on Saturday.
“I’ve gotten the No. 1 before but I never had to fight for it like that,” said Stoffer, who also was low qualifier in 2008 at Infineon Raceway. “It was nerve wracking to see Eddie Krawiec go out the pair in front of me, set low ET, and take the top spot away from us. At least we knew we had a fast enough bike to get it back; I just had to do my job.”
Stoffer predicted the national record would be broken in the elimination rounds. She clearly had the fastest bike after qualifying, but she said on Saturday other riders had a chance to break the national record too.
“I think we'll see some other teams step up and we should see the national record broken, that’s my prediction,” Stoffer said. “We’re in the batter’s box and we want to take a big swing at that record. That would be a first for me, and I would love to be able to do it here in Gainesville. I don’t know if we’re going to see these kind of conditions the rest of the year, so I think it’s going to be critical to get it done here.”
If Stoffer’s national record time holds up through eliminations, she will be awarded 20 bonus points toward the pro stock motorcycle standings.

Villopoto wins AMA Supercorss race in Toronto, closes in on lead in standings

Ryan Villopoto won the Monster Energy AMA Supercross race in Toronto on Saturday night and inched closer to the lead in the Supercross standings.
Villopoto won his fifth race of the season and his fourth in the past five races. He won the race in Daytona, Fla., last week. He also won at Angel Stadium on Feb. 13 and in Indianapolis the following week.
With the win at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Villopoto trails Ryan Dungey, the leader in the Supercross standings, by 17 points after the 10th race of the 17-race AMA Supercross schedule.
“I really wouldn’t be in this position without all of my team and everyone involved,” said Villopoto. “The last couple weeks we’ve been on it and it’s what we need to do. (The racing is) close and it’s been tough. I need to make up ground and I got to make those passes quick. I (also) need to keep getting good starts.”
Dungey finished second in the Toronto race, followed by Trey Canard in third.
Josh Hill, a rider from Murietta, is third in the Supercross standings. He finished in sixth in the race in Toronto.
The AMA Supercross Series will be at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday night.

Friday, March 5, 2010

NASCAR releases first Hunter Index

Before some NASCAR drivers have a shot at stardom, they have to prove their abilities driving late models at tiny obscure tracks throughout the country. Races like the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale give some drivers a chance to show off those skills.
The NASCAR K & N Pro Series is one place where aspiring stock car drivers can hone their skills and prepare for the challenges at the national touring level.
As a way to track and chart some of the more promising drivers in the developmental ranks, NASCAR has developed the Hunter Index, a power poll of the top NASCAR prospects in the nation.
The list of drivers will include those racing in the NASCAR K & N Pro Series, Whelen All-American Series, Mexico Series, Canadian Tire Series, Whelen Modified Tour and the Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
The preseason poll was released this week with three-time Whelen All-American Series national champion Philip Morris atop the list. Sergio Pena, who nearly won the Toyota All-Star Showdown in January, came in at No. 2. Nick Joanides, a driver from Woodland Hills who became the first person to win the NASCAR Super Late Model and Late Model championship at Irwindale in the same year, came in at No. 4.
The poll will be released monthly and will include a variety of drivers. The panel voting on the poll consists of motor sports writers from around the country and NASCAR representatives, including Brett Bodine, chairman of the NASCAR resume committee.
The panel also included media members Shawn Courchesne representing the Northeast, Adam Fenwick from the Southeast, Tim Haddock of from the West Coast, and Greg MacPherson from the Canadian publication Inside Track Motorsports News. They were joined by NASCAR public relations representative Jason Christley.
Here is a look at the preseason Hunter Index:

1. PHILIP MORRIS (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)
Why he’s here: Veteran Late Model driver scored two wins, two seconds and a third over his final six races at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford (Va.) to win his third national championship in the last four years.
2. SERGIO PENA (NASCAR K & N Pro Series East)
Why he’s here: Made a memorable series debut at Toyota All-Star Showdown by winning the pole, leading 54 laps and finishing second to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano.
3. RYAN TRUEX (NASCAR K & N Pro Series East)
Why he’s here: Ended 2009 with seven top three finishes in the final eight races to claim the series championship.
4. NICK JOANIDES (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)
Why he’s here: Had five wins, three seconds and a fifth in final nine races in Super Late Model season at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) and finished third in the national standings. Also won the Late Model title at Toyota Speedway.
5. PAULIE HARRAKA (NASCAR K & N Pro Series West)
Why he’s here: Had two wins in the final three races of the West to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors and finish fourth in points. He was ninth in NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
6. TED CHRISTOPHER (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour / NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)
Why he’s here: Won the Whelen Modified season finale at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway. He had three wins and two seconds in last six Whelen All-American Series races in winning track title at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway and finishing fifth in national standings.
7. ANDREW RANGER (NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1)
Why he’s here: Closed out his second championship with three top 10s, including a win in the second-to-last race of the season. Also finished 15th in NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
8. KEITH ROCCO (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)
Why he’s here: Record nine top five finishes, including three wins, in final 10 races running asphalt Modified at three Connecticut tracks to finish second by Morris in the national standings.
Why he’s here: A win (New Hampshire), a second (Lime Rock) and ninth (Dover) to wind up second in series points. Finished eighth in NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
10. BRETT MOFFITT (NASCAR K & N Pro Series East)
Why he’s here: Was second behind MacDonald at New Hampshire, and then won at Dover to end the season. He was also fourth in the West race at Iowa.
HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Preece (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), David Mayhew (NASCAR K & N Pro Series West), Eric Holmes (NASCAR K & N Pro Series West), D.J. Kennington (NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1), George Brunnhoelzl III (NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour)

Photo: Jonothon Gomez and David Mayhew converse following their qualifying runs during the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale in January. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Force trading cards fueling collectors

John Force is off to one of the hottest starts of his National Hot Rod Assn. career.
Ashley Force Hood has been described as one of the hottest drivers in motorsports.
Card collectors can get a piece of the Force phenomenon in the 2009 Press Pass Legends cards set.
Two cards in particular are at the top of the Beckett Racing’s Hot List. The No. 1 card is of John Force, autographed and valued between $100 and $175. The No. 6 card is the Force family, signed by John, Ashley, Brittany and Courtney Force, and valued between $300 and $600.
“All racing collectors can appreciate the greatness of John Force and what he means to auto racing,” Tim Trout, editor of Beckett Racing. “With only a couple certified autograph cards to date, this is his best one since it could be found in packs of the very popular 2009 Press Pass Legends. Legends is a product dominated by NASCAR drivers, which speaks volumes about the popularity of John Force.”
Trout continued to say that the Force cards could gain as much popularity and value as the 2000 Maxxim Signatures card that features Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s autographs.

Photo: The Force family card from 2009 Press Pass Legends set is valued between $300 and $600 by Beckett Racing magazine.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Who can beat Jimmie Johnson?

Here we go again.
Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. It was his second win in a row, his fourth at the Vegas track and the 49th Cup win of his career.
It’s getting to the point where every win seems like it’s his fourth win at a track. He was asked after winning in Las Vegas if he and his team are feeling invincible.
“It’s great,” Johnson said. “We don’t feel invincible, though. It was nice to go out there today and really earn this one, race Jeff that hard for the win. So, you know, I feel very good about things. But ‘invincible,’ far from that."
It would be nice to see another driver win a race. But this is not about hating on Johnson. This is about hating on the other 42 Cup drivers who are helpless against Johnson during a race.
Jeff Gordon had the best car at Vegas. By all accounts, Gordon should have won the race. He led the most laps, had the dominant car and was in the lead pack for almost the entire race.
It was mentioned during the Fox broadcast that in four of the past five races Gordon has led the most laps, Johnson has won the race.
There isn’t a more telling stat than that. Gordon used to be a great finisher. Now he can’t beat his own protégé. Gordon actually ended up third in the Vegas race despite leading 219 laps. Gordon was asked after the Vegas race if he ever asks himself why he brought Johnson to Hendrick Motorsports.
“Today I do,” Gordon said. “You know, five, 10 years from now when I’m cashing in on it, I’m not. You know, somebody once told me that, you know, if you’re gonna get beat, make sure you’re getting a piece of it. You know, that’s one positive to take out of it.”
Gordon, a four-time Cup champion, has had those types of seasons when he looked unbeatable. He can relate to the type of success Johnson has been experiencing.
“You know, it doesn’t matter to me who it is out there, whether it’s our own teammate or whether it’s a competitor, you know, you want to go out there and compete against the best and you want to beat the best,” Gordon said. “And I feel like, you know, our best days with our 24 team over the years, we’re going up against Mark Martin when he was at Roush, Dale Earnhardt Sr. when he was at Childress, you know, Dale Jarrett at Yates. 
“So while it’s coming in house, it’s still another competitor. And it drives us. It inspires us. It motivates us. You know, the reason you saw us perform and dominate the way we did today is because of those guys pushing us. We don’t take that lightly. You know, we’re just like every other competitor out there: We are pissed off about it.”
Getting mad hasn’t been enough to beat Johnson, at least in the past two races. There are plenty of drivers out there who have been able to challenge Johnson, especially the three at Richard Childress Racing. But neither Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton nor Clint Bowyer has been able to beat Johnson yet. Harvick has been the closest. He posted his second runner-up finish in a row to Johnson.
The 29 (Harvick), they’re definitely on it, without a doubt,” Johnson said. “You cannot ignore the fact that the 31 (Burton), the 33 (Bowyer) and the 29 have a ton of speed. So they’ve worked in the right areas over the off season and have closed the gap up a ton. It’s going to be an awesome race. I’m glad it’s a bunch of Chevys up here racing for this thing.”
On the strength of those two runner-ups and a seventh-place finish at Daytona to open the season, Harvick leads the Cup standings. Of course leading the Cup standings at this point in the season means very little. Considering Johnson gets bonus points toward the Chase standings for winning races, leading the Cup standings at this point means even less. If anything, the recent runs and finishes by Harvick have done wonders for the confidence of the Childress teams.
“Well, you know, I feel like the beginning of the run they got out from us,” Harvick said. “I felt like at the end of the run we were just as good as they were. It’s just a matter of we got a little bit looser than we had been all day long the last two runs. We can run with them and they know it.”

Photo: Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson talk during driver introductions on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Rookie Ryan Dungey win AMA Supercross race in Atlanta

Rookie Ryan Dungey won the Monster Energy AMA Supercross race at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday night and increased his lead in the Supercross standings after eight races.
Dungey won for the third time this season and has a 20-point lead over Josh Jill in the AMA Supercross standings.
“It was definitely a good win,” said Dungey. “The start was key because it was a tough track to pass on. My tires hooked up great and I wouldn’t be here without my team. I won my first supercross race here so it feels good to come back and get my first big bike win (in Atlanta). We’re just trying to keep moving forward as a team and sometimes you have to go backward to go forward but things are working out so far.”
Trey Canard was second in the Atlanta race, followed by Davi Millsaps in third.
It was Dungey’s first win since Jan. 23 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim and his fourth podium finish of the year.
Hill finished sixth in the race at Atlanta and recovered from a crash during practice to put up a respectable finish and stay in championship contention.
“After my crash earlier in the day, I had some regrouping to do,” Hill said after the race. “I rode the very best that I could tonight and I am thankful to still be holding on and staying close to the championship points lead in second.”
James Stewart, the reigning Monster Energy AMA Supercross champion, missed his fifth race of the season. He has been sidelined since the fourth race of the year after injuring his wrist in a race accident.
Stewart was asked about his return during the Speed TV coverage of Saturday night’s race at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. He said, “I hope real soon and that the next time I see you guys I'm on the podium.”