CONCORD, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Hendrick Motorsports Jimmie Johnson is hanging up his full-time driving gloves after the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Season.
The seven-time Cup Series Champion took to Twitter this afternoon to make the announcement:
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) November 20, 2019
Johnson’s seven championships tie him with the late Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the most driver’s titles, all coming in the No. 48 Chevrolet of Hendrick Motorsports.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France issued the following statement:
“NASCAR history will always hold Jimmie Johnson in the highest regard, for his hard-charging success on the racetrack and the way he conducted himself as a champion off the track. This remarkable seven-time champion – through his competitive spirit, immense talent and sportsmanship – has made NASCAR a better sport. On behalf of my family and the entire NASCAR community, I thank Jimmie for his dedication to NASCAR and, along with his legions of fans, wish him all the best in his final season. I look forward to watching him race for wins and an eighth NASCAR Cup Championship in 2020.”
Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles issued a statement as well:
“Jimmie Johnson has set a standard of excellence on track that few will ever match in NASCAR history. His legend is secure with a record-tying seven Cup Series titles and four victories in the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard among his 83-career Cup wins. But there’s far more to Jimmie than those impressive statistics. He is one of the classiest, most genuine people to cross the Yard of Bricks in a race car and is a terrific ambassador for the great sport of auto racing that we all love. I’m sure I will be joined by man in wishing Jimmie the best of luck as he tries to win an eighth title and drive to a fifth Brickyard victory to end a storybook career.”
Johnson grew up in El Cajon, California and began racing motorcycles at the age of 5 followed by off-road trucks and eventually the NASCAR Busch (now Xfinity) and Cup Series.
Hendrick Motorsports will announce plans for its 2021 team alignment at a later date.
Ross Chastain To Drive Chip Ganassi’s #42 Camaro In 2021
CONCORD, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi is getting ready for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) by hiring Ross Chastain to drive the No. 42 Credit One Bank/McDonald’s Chevrolet Camaro.
Chastain replaces Matt Kenseth, who was hired in May to replace Kyle Larson, who was fired for using a racial slur during an iRacing event this Spring.
Chastain, a CGR development driver since 2018, is currently competing full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS), where he qualified for the playoffs for a second time following a runner-up finish at Bristol Motor Speedway over the weekend.
Chastain first competed for CGR in 2018, behind the wheel of the No. 42 Chevrolet in the NXS. In the three races Chastain ran for the team that year, he earned a pole at Darlington, a win at Las Vegas, and a runner-up finish at Richmond, which helped him earn a spot in the NXS playoffs.
“Ross has been a part of this organization for a few years now, and I am happy to announce him as our driver for the No. 42 team,” said Ganassi. “In three races with our organization in 2018 and watching ever since, he showed me and everyone else that he is a tenacious driver who wants to win. We believe that Ross will give our team the opportunity to be competitive each week and our sponsors someone to build a program around. Additionally, his racing background has him well-suited to make the move to the Cup Series.”
Chastain, a native of Alva Florida, began his racing career at the age of 12 at Punta Gorda Speedway in his home state, racing in both late model stock cars and Fastruck Series events. During his short-track racing career he scored over 50 feature wins, including the 2011 World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna Speedway, winning three of eight events in the series.
Chastain made his first NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (NGROTS) in 2011 and raced in that series for three seasons. Chastain began racing in the NXS in 2014 while continuing to make starts in the Truck Series. Chastain made his first start in the NCS in 2017 and ran nearly a full season in both 2018 and 2019 while also competing in the NXS. He also raced full-time in the NGROTS in 2019, where he won three races and finished second in the points standings. In total, Chastain has 352 starts in NASCAR’s three top series, with three wins in the NGROTS and two wins in the NXS. Since 2017, he has continued to make starts in all three national series.
“I can’t thank Chip enough for this opportunity,” said Chastain. “The faith he and the organization showed me back in 2018 was a real turning point in my career, and I am extremely happy for the chance to join the team again especially with all the great guys they have on the 42 and to be able to team with a champion like Kurt Busch. Racing in the Cup Series with a serious contender has always been my goal, and I’m looking forward to joining what is a very strong team. I know I have my work cut out for me, but I’m ready to get to work and help bring more success to the organization.”
Chastain earned the nickname ‘Melon Man’ because for eight generations his family has been involved in watermelon farming. Chastain continues to work on the family’s land when his schedule allows. Chastain’s signature move after a race win is to spike a watermelon at the finish line.
Chastain’s CGR teammate Kurt Busch is excited to have the ‘Melon Man’ as part of the CGR lineup in 2021.
.@RossChastain is a great addition to @CGRTeams. I’ve watched his relentless pursuit to make it to the top level of @NASCAR, and I know he will continue to give everything he has to win! Chip likes winners! https://t.co/BlAzGOljCE
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) September 21, 2020
Kevin Harvick Holds Off Kyle Busch To Win NASCAR Cup Series Bristol Night Race
BRISTOL, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Kevin Harvick continued his incredible season by holding off Kyle Busch to win the NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Harvick’s No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang beat the No. 18 Skittles Camry to the checkered flag by .310-second and led a race-high 226-laps en route to Harvick’s 58th career Cup Series victory.
“We had just a really, really good Busch Light Ford Mustang tonight,” said Harvick. “I got it a little dinged up with 50 or 60 laps to go. I knocked a hole in the nose and made it a little too tight through the center of the corner, but turned into a heck of a race, in and out of traffic there with Kyle. He got me once pinned up there in traffic and I was able to do the same thing back and then hold the lead there until the end.”
“Frustrated over finishing second,” said Busch. “You know, just felt like this was one of our greater shots to win, and I don’t know. You know, just come up short. Skittles Camry was fast and we had a good car, one that was in contention all night long. Fired off the start of the race, I was like, oh, wow, this is a pretty good car and then got beat by another really good car, I guess.”
Harvick was already locked into the NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12 by virtue of his win at Darlington and Busch’s second place allowed him to advance based on points.
Four drivers failed to advance and were eliminated from the playoffs: William Byron, who was involved in an incident where he slammed into the back of another car. Ryan Blaney finished 13th but did not have enough points to advance. Matt DiBenedetto finished 19th and did not have enough points to advance and Cole Custer finished 23rd and is out of the playoffs.
The race featured 14-lead changes among 8-drivers and was slowed by 5-caution flags for 50-laps. The average speed of the race was 95.911-mph.
The NASCAR Cup Series moves onto Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 27, 2020.
Brad Keselowski Wins Race 2 Of The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs
RICHMOND, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski is automatically locked into Round 2 of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs after winning Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Keselowski beat Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. by 1.568-seconds to win his fourth race of the season and 34th of his Cup Series career in a race where there was not a single accident.
“These cars all drove so bad with that little bitty spoiler on them, a lot of horsepower, and you had guys with new tires and old tires sliding around, and it’s so easy to get in trouble and to wreck,” Keselowski said about the high horsepower, low downforce package featured at Richmond. “These drivers are just freaking good, and they didn’t do that. And to win a race against drivers that are this good is pretty cool. It’s something I’m very proud of, and I’m going to try to soak it up.”
Truex brought it home in second place after throwing away a chance at a win or even a good finish a week earlier at Darlington.
“It feels good,” said Truex. “You know, obviously wanted to win and going for three in a row here would have been pretty cool to be able to make that happen, but just didn’t quite have what we needed tonight. Bass Pro Toyota was good, just not quite good enough.”
Keselowski’s teammate Joey Logano finished third in the No. 22 Ford Mustang.
“Third place, that’s about where we were today,” said Logano. “Had a pretty good car and thought early in the race we were a couple adjustments away from being where we needed to be and just seemed like as the track kept going on, I got a little bit tighter, and every time we tried to fix that we got a little bit looser off. It’s kind of pick your poison; do you want to be loose off or do you want to half turn.”
Truex’s JGR teammate Denny Hamlin punched his ticket to the Round of 12 with a Stage win and a 12th place finish.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch finished 13th and sits in 11th place in the Championship standing, 7-points above the cut line heading into next weekend’s elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
William Byron, Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney all sit below the cut line and will need to either win or have outstanding races if they have any hope of advancing to the next round.
The next race is September 19 at Bristol Motor Speedway.