Oct 13, 2013, 12:22 AM EDT
What seemed to be a sure win for Jimmie Johnson tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway instead went to Brad Keselowski. And what seemed to be the perfect situation for Johnson to overtake Matt Kenseth (pictured) for the lead in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup instead ended with Kenseth still atop the standings with five races left.
Kenseth and Johnson ultimately finished third and fourth in the Bank of America 500. That effectively constitutes a draw, as Kenseth was only able to extend his lead in the Chase by one point to a margin of four as the scene shifts to Talladega Superspeedway next weekend.
But Kenseth will surely take it, especially as it appeared that Johnson would be the new Chase leader coming out of North Carolina this evening. He’d been crushing the competition in the middle stages of the race, but a debris caution with 27 laps left changed everything.
As the yellow waved, Johnson led the race leaders to the pits for their final stops of the night but dropped back to third when he took four tires, while Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne took two and grabbed first and second positions respectively.
Then, instead of capitalizing on his four fresh Goodyears, Johnson fell all the way back to seventh after a poor restart. He would regain three of those lost positions back, but an opportunity to seize control of the championship had vanished.
Still, Johnson – as usual – tried to keep on an even keel about the situation.
“I wish we’d finished better, but it was still a strong performance for the Lowe’s car,” Johnson said to ESPN. “I’m very proud of the effort – we had a fast car, great qualifying, great pit stops. Everything’s there. We’ll just keep doing our jobs and work at it week after week, and see what we can get.”
But with Charlotte in the rear view mirror, the biggest wild card in the post-season now beckons. Nothing more and nothing less than a 200 mile-per-hour game of Russian Roulette, Talladega and its dreaded “Big One” can wipe out championship dreams in an instant.
For his part, Kenseth emphasized both Dega’s unpredictable nature and the fact that he still has the Chase lead when asked about what awaits him and the rest of the Chasers in Alabama.
“Jimmie’s certainly been strong in the [restrictor] plate races and Harvick’s always been good there, but you never really know what’s going to happen at Talladega,” he said.
“But I’m glad we’re still in the lead. We have a lot of racing to do, we made it through the first half of [the Chase] and have maintained a very small lead, so it’s better than being behind. We’ll go to Talladega, race hard, hope our car has some speed in it, and be able to hang up front.”
Aug 19, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
Last year, reliability was the problem for Toyota’s engines, not power. This year, the situation has been reversed, and Toyota Racing Development’s president says they’re hunting for more performance ahead of the Chase.
Aug 19, 2014, 8:07 PM EDT
Alan Gustafson may not be as well-known as other crew chiefs, but it’s clear that he’s played a big role in Jeff Gordon’s success this season. The NASCAR AMERICA crew breaks down what’s made them such a good pair together.
Aug 19, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT
NASCAR AMERICA talks about Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez’s move to Joe Gibbs Racing – and the impact of their new sponsor, telecommunications equipment company ARRIS.
Aug 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
Coming up today: Reaction from 2015 JGR drivers Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez, and current JGR Cup drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch; No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson on the team’s win at Michigan; the Michigan edition of “Scan All 43.”
Aug 19, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Four days after racing in Michigan, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series faces the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway in Wednesday night’s UNOH 200.
Aug 19, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT
This weekend, Red Bull GRC drivers will compete on a .924-mile layout at Daytona International Speedway that’s the longest they’ve faced so far this year. Catch Saturday’s final at 2:30 p.m. on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra.
Aug 19, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT
Gibbs, who won two Sprint Cup titles with Stewart in 2002 and 2005, believes that his former driver has the courage to overcome his grief and eventually come back to racing.
Aug 19, 2014, 2:16 PM EDT
e.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi puts up a lap of 1 minute, 31.792 seconds to lead the final day of testing at the UK’s Donington Park.
Aug 19, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
Eight years ago, the son of Michael and grandson of Mario broke through on the Northern California circuit.
Aug 19, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
A final report from MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno on how the Milwaukee IndyFest went off.
Aug 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
After success in Mexico and in the U.S.-based NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Suarez will take on the Nationwide Series next season with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Aug 19, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT
NASCAR’s Chase Grid Live sweepstakes open until August 29; provides fans potential VIP trip ahead of Chicagoland Chase opener.
Aug 19, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT
Carl Edwards was almost destined to move to Gibbs, and it’s time to see whether his new opportunity will yield as much success for him as other switches have for others.
Aug 19, 2014, 10:17 AM EDT
Carl Edwards confirmed at Joe Gibbs Racing for 2015 and beyond.
Aug 18, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
10 Sprint Cup squads tested various configurations today at Michigan as NASCAR looked to nail down its rules package for the 2015 Cup season. Today on NASCAR AMERICA, NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan gave a full report on the proceedings.
Aug 18, 2014, 8:48 PM EDT
Under very difficult circumstances, NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton went back behind the wheel this weekend at Michigan. Today on NASCAR AMERICA, the Sprint Cup veteran talked about his experience subbing for Tony Stewart.
Aug 18, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT
Coming up today: Breaking down Jeff Gordon’s win at Michigan; Jeff Burton and his weekend with Stewart-Haas Racing; Kyle Larson’s Chase hopes take a hit; teams test potential 2015 rules changes.
Aug 18, 2014, 7:05 PM EDT
Gordon and the No. 24 team have been rolling over the last four weeks. But can they continue their streak of success?
Aug 18, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
All the notes and numbers to keep in mind as the Race to the Chase heats up in Tennessee.
Aug 18, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Tripp Mickle of the SportsBusiness Journal reports that Comcast’s broadband/TV/phone service is considering a five to six year deal valued at over $100 million to take over sponsorship of what’s currently known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
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