Tires Get Post-Practice OK From Drivers At Kansas
By Jim Pedley
NASCAR Wire Service
KANSAS CITY, Kan – Notebook items for the NASCAR weekend at Kansas Speedway:
* Tires get quick endorsement from drivers
* Johnson revisits Talladega incident
* Bowyer feeling his age, with baby on the way
* Allmendinger ‘lobbying’ for Sprint All-Star Race fan vote
TIRES GET QUICK ENDORSEMENT FROM DRIVERS
The two NASCAR Sprint Cup practices are in the books at Kansas Speedway and the tires which Goodyear brought in for Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy
400 are getting thumbs up from the competitors.
That’s good news for NASCAR, the speedway, Goodyear and competitors after some uneven results last fall at Kansas.
“Whatever they (Goodyear) are doing, is working,” Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards said Friday.
Said Richard Childress Racing driver Ryan Newman, “I think they (Goodyear) have, at least at this point, made a good decision on the tire they brought.”
Edwards said he was not sure about the wear of the tires. He just didn’t check into it with his team.
But Newman said, “I think our longest run was 10 laps. Based on our tire wear, everything looks really good.”
Last fall, many of the problems which surfaced occurred to the right side rubber on the 3,400-pound Cup cars.
Goodyear returned to Kansas with new tires for that side of the cars this weekend. The left-side tires are the same as last fall’s.
Also being discussed in the wake of the two practices – which were led by rookie Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing and three-time series champion Tony
Stewart respectively – were the speeds the cars were logging. Nineteen drivers topped the 190 mph mark in the second practice.
“I will say this, that is the fastest I have ever gone through the corner here,” Edwards said. “It is extremely fast.”
Newman agreed, saying, “I think it’s the fastest we’ve ever been here; at least it feels like it to me here at this race track.”
JOHNSON REVISITS TALLADEGA INCIDENT
Jimmie Johnson must have a very big bucket sitting around somewhere at the Hendrick Motorsports campus in Concord, N.C. Either that or the bucket doesn’t
have a bottom in it.
Johnson, a six-time Sprint Cup champion who has yet to win a race this season and, hence, does not have a Chase berth locked up, was asked several times
Friday about the wreck he was involved in with Brad Keselowski a week ago at Talladega.
Was he angry about being wrecked? And by a driver six laps down? And on a day he had a very good car? Would he consider retaliation?
Johnson just shrugged.
“It’s plate racing and you just throw it in the plate (racing) bucket and move on,” Johnson said.
Does Keselowski, the Team Penske Ford driver whose aggression on a race track is well documented, need a talking to?
Again, Johnson said, “I personally think that what happened in Talladega just falls into that restrictor-plate bucket that we just kind of overlook a lot of
things that take place at plate tracks.”
With Johnson, who has 66 career Sprint Cup wins, moving to race No. 11 on the 2014 schedule this weekend at Kansas still looking for that first victory, an
increasingly familiar question was put to him on Friday: Is he starting to get concerned?
“Until we are not locked in I mean there is nothing to worry about,” Johnson said. “Where we sit in points right now we are locked in. Of course we want to
win; we want to win every race we go to. We have been in the ballpark and have been very close to victory a couple of times and it got away. Yes, there
have been some poor performances. We are trying to raise that. I don’t think that we are where we want to be as a team right now, but we have had a few
looks at wins and I know we will get a few more. We just need to capitalize on that. If not, points still matter. There is a bigger window to make the
Chase today than there was last year. Last year was 12, this year it’s 16. I don’t think there is anything to stress out about yet.”
Johnson is a two-time winner at Kansas. His average finishing position at the 1.5-mile oval is 7.5 – by far the best among all those who will take the green
flag on Saturday night.
BOWYER FEELING HIS AGE, WITH BABY ON THE WAY
Kansas native Clint Bowyer admitted to feeling a bit older this week. No, not because he has developed a need for bifocals, nor because he’s begun getting
mail from AARP. Making the Michael Waltrip Racing driver feel his age were a couple of recent real-world incidents.
First, there was a visit to his old high school in Emporia.
“Last time I left there was in 1998 – a free man,” Bowyer said. “I went back and it was so fun to talk to the students. It’s really probably the hardest
thing I’ve ever done because I remember when I was a senior in high school and you’re not a kid anymore and you don’t want to be talked down to. You hear
all these people come in and tell you stats and everything and I was ‘that guy’, I couldn’t help it. I was like, ‘Trust me kids, I know this, I’ve lived it
– don’t screw up and listen to us.’ “
The message Bowyer had for the high schoolers was a worthy one: Don’t text while driving.
Second, was the announcement this week that Bowyer and his wife Lorra are having a baby. It will be a boy.
And the name? Good question. One for which Bowyer has no answer yet. He knows that it will not be Clint Jr., however.
“No. No Juniors. Can’t have Juniors,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. That’s the question, I know everybody you talk to, ‘What are you going
to name him.’ I’m scrambling right now. Really, really excited about our boy. Casey (Bowyer, Clint’s brother) brought in nieces and nephews to our family
a few years ago. And ever since then Lorra (his wife) and I are like ;we got to have one soon.’”
ALLMENDINGER LOBBYING FOR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE FAN VOTE
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet, was asked Friday why he thinks fans might vote him into next weekend’s Sprint All-Star Race at
Charlotte Motor Speedway.
With the precise comedic timing of Jerry Seinfeld, Allmendinger shot back, “Because they’ve got to be tired of voting for Danica.”
Voting for Danica Patrick, now in her second full season in Sprint Cup, has seemingly become pro forma among the NASCAR electorate. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. already
locked into this year’s all-star event, Patrick would seem to be a slam dunk for inclusion.
Allmendinger may not need the fan vote to get into next weekend’s race at Charlotte. His team has been looking strong in the late spring this year. He
finished fifth last week at Talladega and sixth the race before in Richmond.
What’s up with a JTG Daugherty team that has struggled in the past? Credit, he said, being a member of the “Childress Alliance”.
“With the RCR alliance it’s been great because Richard (Childress) for our team at least has just opened his doors,” Allmendinger said. “I mean giving us all
the information we can have. Our cars right now aren’t brand new cars, they are cars from late last year. A lot of the No. 29 cars a couple of them that
Kevin (Harvick) won with. So they are not brand new cars, but at the same point they are still fast race cars.
“They have given us just basically open information, engineering, set-ups, everything that we need to know what makes the cars fast. It’s been great
sharing and hopefully we are bringing something back to them. That has been my goal is to not just keep taking but hopefully bring something back to where
they are learning and we can make everybody as a whole better. Richard has been just fantastic. I’ve been part of an alliance before and this is the best
I’ve ever seen. All credit goes to him and their race shop for allowing us to have that. Hopefully it just keeps continuing.”No Comment