Monday, October 10, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Jimmie Johnson Reaches Chase Round of 8

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 10, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLXXVIII

What to Watch: Monday

- The preparations are never-ending in NASCAR, even on a holiday like Columbus Day. Sprint Cup and XFINITY series teams are getting ready for Kansas Speedway this weekend so if anything of note breaks today, we'll have it for you at Frontstretch.

Monday's TV Schedule can be found here.
Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Jimmie Johnson Returns to Form, Wins Charlotte for Eighth Time

Early Sunday afternoon, Jimmie Johnson came out to play at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  The six-time champion led 155 laps to claim his eighth career victory on the quad-oval in a race that saw a number of Chasers run into issues.  Matt Kenseth was second, followed by Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman and Kyle Larson.  Read more

Joey Logano Takes XFINITY Win at Charlotte

Kyle Larson dominated the rain-delayed Drive for the Cure 300, run late Sunday afternoon following the Cup race. However, Joey Logano was able to get past him on the final restart with 12 laps to go and held on to win.  Elliott Sadler was second, followed by Daniel Suarez, Larson and Erik Jones.  Read more

Have news for The Frontstretch?  Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at with a promising lead or tip.

Chasing the Chase: Jimmie Johnson Uses Victory to Vault to the Top
by Phil Allaway

Jimmie Johnson picked a good time to break a 24-race winless streak.  Johnson's eighth career victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway (while leading a race-high 155 laps) allowed him to take the lead and lock him into the next round in the Chase.  Matt Kenseth finished second and will be second in the standings, five points out as all totals were reset following the Round of 16.  

Kyle Busch recovered from a tire issue early and damage to the left front corner after running into the back of Chase Elliott to finish sixth and come out of Charlotte in third.  Brad Keselowski was quiet for much of the day, quietly running inside the top 10 but managed to bring home the Würth Ford seventh, putting him fourth in points.

Kurt Busch finished right behind Keselowski in eighth and walks out of Charlotte fifth in the standings.  Carl Edwards, after a solid Sunday got involved in the big restart wreck, but suffered only minor damage.  He finished 12th and ended up sixth in points.  Martin Truex, Jr. is one point back in seventh.  Denny Hamlin was looking good for a top 5 until the engine blew with less than 30 laps to go.  The 30th-place result leaves Hamlin eighth in points.

Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott were both eliminated in the lap 259 restart crash triggered by Truex running into the back of Dillon.  Elliott and Dillon are therefore tied for ninth, three points behind Hamlin.  Joey Logano was running well until a left-front tire issue put him in the wall.  A right-front tire failure resulted in a larger crash later on, forcing the team behind the wall for repairs.  Logano ended up 80 laps down in 36th and currently sits in 11th, six points out of a transfer spot into the Round of 8.  

Kevin Harvick, after a win put him into this round may have use the "automatic bid" route once again. Harvick was forced to retire due to an engine issue that the team had quite a time trying to diagnose.  The 38th-place finish leaves Harvick at the back of the Chasers once again.

Chase Point Standings: 1) Jimmie Johnson 3045, 2) Matt Kenseth -5, 3) Kyle Busch -9, 4) Brad Keselowski -11, 5) Kurt Busch -12, 6) Carl Edwards -16, 7) Martin Truex, Jr. -17, 8) Denny Hamlin -33, t-9) Austin Dillon -36, t-9) Chase Elliott -36, 11) Joey Logano -39, 12) Kevin Harvick -41.

Best of the Rest: 13) Kyle Larson 2109, 14) Tony Stewart -3, 15) Jamie McMurray -25, 16) Chris Buescher -39, 17) Kasey Kahne -1343, 18) Ryan Newman -1371, 19) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. -1451, 20) Ryan Blaney -1454, 21) AJ Allmendinger -1456, 22) Trevor Bayne -1458, 23) Danica Patrick -1532.

Regular Point Standings: 1) Brad Keselowski 981, 2) Kevin Harvick -32, 3) Kyle Busch -73, 4) Joey Logano -87, 5) Martin Truex, Jr. -92, 6) Kurt Busch -96, 7) Denny Hamlin -102, 8) Carl Edwards -108, 9) Jimmie Johnson -151, 10) Matt Kenseth -160, 11) Chase Elliott -185, 12Austin Dillon -208, 13) Kasey Kahne -215, 14) Jamie McMurray -221, 15) Kyle Larson -229, 16) Ryan Newman -243, 17) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. -323, 18) Ryan Blaney -326, 19) AJ Allmendinger -328, 20) Trevor Bayne -330.

Outside the top 16, but in the Chase: 25) Tony Stewart -444, 29) Chris Buescher -539.

Race Winners: Denny Hamlin (Daytona-1, Watkins Glen, Richmond-2), Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta, Auto Club, Charlotte-2), Brad Keselowski (Las Vegas, Talladega, Daytona-2, Kentucky), Kevin Harvick (Phoenix, Bristol-2, Loudon-2), Kyle Busch (Martinsville, Texas, Kansas, Indianapolis), Carl Edwards (Bristol-1, Richmond-1), Matt Kenseth (Dover-1, Loudon-1), Martin Truex, Jr. (Charlotte-1, Darlington, Chicagoland, Dover-2), Kurt Busch (Pocono-1), Joey Logano (Michigan-1), Tony Stewart (Sonoma), Chris Buescher (Pocono-2), Kyle Larson (Michigan-2).
Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at

Letter of the Race: Sunday's Bank of America 500 was brought to you by the letter "T," for Tires.  It appears the tire Goodyear brought to Charlotte was designed to be raced at night, not on a green racetrack in the middle of the afternoon.  Racing in the daytime brought delamination problems that resulted in a number of blown tires.  The faulty rubber caused a number of cautions and likely changed the outcome of the race. - Phil Allaway


Quotes to Remember: Bank of America 500
compiled by Phil Allaway

"Really, we just fell back on what we are made of at Hendrick Motorsports [after our summer slump].  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 No. 20 in turn 3 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." - Jimmie Johnson, race winner

"It was quite the battle to get there.  We had our work cut out for us.  We got to where we were a lot better the first 30 laps of a run the last three runs there.  That helped us get some track position and avoid a couple of those wrecks.  That was tough on a couple of those teams.  I know Chase (Elliott) was part of one.  I didn't see what happened, but that is tough for those guys that are battling for this championship.  Congrats to Jimmie (Johnson) and the Hendrick Engines, No. 48 teams, those guys did awesome.  We did pretty good.  We fought hard; the team had great pit stops all day also." - Kasey Kahne, finished third

"Anything can happen – that's why you've got to run these races, so am I surprised? A little bit. Am I shocked? No. We've just got to keep doing what we know how to do and luckily we had the opportunities to be able to battle back and work ourselves back in the position to where we could have a good strong finish." - Kyle Busch, finished sixth

"It's a solid day.  To run seventh is OK.  We just weren't quite anywhere near as fast as the Nos. 48 and 24, and we were behind a bunch of the others. We just need to find a little bit of speed, but the execution was great.  On the last pit stop my guys got the Wurth Ford out with the leaders, which was really good.  We're executing well.  We just need to find a little bit more speed to be able to make that execution and speed and win races." - Brad Keselowski, finished seventh

"We went through a lot today.  The restart, I guess we survived it better than most when everybody had that trouble.  We just missed on the setup on the first five laps and then after 30 laps, man, she would just go away.  We got what we could out of it and all-in-all an eighth-place finish, guys had trouble, it is one of those days where you just go 'alright,' we will take it.  It's not the best, but with Haas Automation, Monster Energy, that is the finish we need to advance through this Chase." - Kurt Busch, finished eighth

"The clutch went out. I had the clutch on the floor sitting there in first gear when they dropped the right side and the clutch just pumped up and pushed my foot all the way up so the clutch just went completely out and I had no clutch at the end. I had to start it in gear and luckily, we were able to get it started. Not sure what happened, just one of those freak deals. Just happened at the wrong time." - Martin Truex, Jr., finished 13th, on his final stop

"Just an engine failure there. We hadn't had one in a long time with TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and Toyota. It's just my time and it's usually Chase time when I have these things happen. Tough break obviously. Had a good car and we'll have to go to Kansas and get a good run there and do everything we can to advance... [the car] was good and I was pacing myself. I thought we had a really good car on the long run and it looked like the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was starting to get loose there and I was staring to reel him back in and that's just part of it. I've been through these mechanical failures a lot throughout my career and it's usually always in the Chase. Unlucky, but in this format you can still win and advance and some other guys had some tough days. We're still not out of it by any means." - Denny Hamlin, finished 30th (blown engine)

"I am fine, it just sucks.  We will have to work hard the next two weeks to get the points back.   I felt like I got to third gear pretty clean and then the next thing – I feel contact and I am spinning through the grass.  It's part of it and we took two tires there and you know the risk when you get into it.   You just hope that doesn't happen obviously.   I got to third without spinning the tires, and I felt like we got contacted.  We will just go on to next week." - Austin Dillon, finished 32nd (crashed out)

"I think the No. 3 spun his tires.  I think the No. 78 was trying to push him and ended up getting him out of shape and then I think the No. 18 didn't see it and ended up getting into me.  I tried to get off the brakes and get down to keep that from happening but definitely unfortunate.  We had such a good car and I am devastated that we didn't get the result that the guys deserved.  They gave me such a fast 3M Chevy and that is all you can ask for.   We just have got to go and do more of that next week." - Chase Elliott, finished 33rd (crashed out)

"I don't know.  Tires are popping.  We're not the only car that had the issue, but we're the ones that hit the wall when it happened, so that's not the best place to have them go down.  We had a fast car.  Our car was capable of winning the race.  We drove up from 10th and were up to third and running down the leaders, so I felt really good about what we had.  I don't know.  Things happen.  It's part of racing, I guess... we're not out by any means.  We had a very fast car.  I'm super-proud of the car we brought here.  It was capable of winning, for sure.  We ran up from 10th to third and were still running down the leaders early in the race, so I felt really good about the Pennzoil Ford we had.  Things happen.  It's part of racing, but we're not out.  We're not gonna die. This team is resilient.  We've proved it before and we'll just have to go out and prove it again.  We just have to have two flawless races.  It's something we can make up." - Joey Logano, finished 36th

"I'm alright.  That was definitely a hard hit when you start from the bottom and get to the top - not the way you ever want to hit.  I'm not sure what happened.  First off, I can't thank all my guys enough.  Harris Teeter on the race car, Stouffer's, everybody that is a part of this, built a brand-new race car; it's our first one since really the beginning of the year.  It had a lot of speed in it.  There is something weird that started to happen kind of I would say the first third of the race to where I didn't like what was happening with the front end of the car.  I couldn't tell if it was just rubber build up or anything like that, but we kept having tire problems with 15 laps to go in the run.  Had one start to delaminate and the same thing right there, I started feeling something go again and I don't know if the tire went or something broke, but something was definitely starting to get messed up in front of cars which was costing us speed. We had a lot of speed early in the race, probably the most speed we have had all year at a 1.5-mile early in the race.  There is something to be positive about, just not the way we want to end it." - AJ Allmendinger, finished 37th (crashed out)

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at



by Mike Neff


Q: Here's a somewhat random question.  As you may remember, Michael Waltrip walked away from a horrible crash in the 1990 Budweiser 250 at Bristol where Waltrip slid into an improperly latched crossover gate.  The gate opened on contact, can-opening the car but believe it or not, the chassis still exists 26 years later.  Where is it?

Check back Tuesday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Friday's Answer:

Q:  As noted in Friday's Newsletter, Jimmie Johnson is the all-time winningest driver at Charlotte Motor Speedway with now-eight career wins.  However, his first career Winston Cup start at then-Lowe's Motor Speedway didn't go so well.  What happened?

A: Johnson was running mid-pack when he got a little loose in turn 4.  He tried to correct, but couldn't as the No. 48 spun and backed into the outside wall.  Ryan Newman spun to the inside to avoid the crash, but managed to lose a lap trying to start his engine in the grass.  The crash can be seen here.

Newman continued and eventually finished 19th (right about where Johnson was at the time of the crash).  Johnson ended up going to the garage for repairs and did return to the race.  He would eventually pull off and finish 39th once he could not advance any more.


In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have breaking news from Monday, Tom Bowles returns with Numbers Game and S.D. Grady is back with Sitting In The Stands: A Fan's View.

Amy Henderson takes a closer look at how some of the sport's smaller teams fared at Charlotte in Underdog House.
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