2014 was a tremendous year for Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton won his second Formula One Championship while he also managed to date Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls. And as 2015 is nearly one-third into the record books, Hamilton literally hasn’t taken his foot off of the pedal. Hamilton is on the verge of signing a new lucrative deal to continue racing for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team as they cannot afford to lose him to Ferrari who would love to have another star driver. And now Hamilton is off of to a blazing start on the race track in his quest for his third Formula One Championship.
Hamilton has won three of the first four races this season while he also took second place at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Hamilton’s hot start has him in ownership of the top spot in the driver standings as he has a 27-point lead over second place driver Nico Rosberg who also happens to be his Mercedes teammate. And Hamilton has recently been dominating in the same fashion similar to some legends of Formula One such as former driver Michael Schumacher and current driver Sebastian Vettel.
After making the jump to Formula One in 2007, Hamilton has always been one of the circuit top drivers and now at the age of 30, he is figuring it all out to dominate each race. The Mercedes team which is led by the likes of engineering director Aldo Costa has and will continue to give Hamilton one the best cars on the circuit. To me Hamilton’s contract status has nothing to do with his strong racing as he has just been that good. But with eighty percent of the Formula One season still to be determined, Hamilton is well on his way to becoming the tenth driver in the history of the circuit to claim at least three Formula One Championships.
In 2001, Kevin Harvick’s NASCAR career began unexpectedly. Following the untimely death of racing legend Dale Earnahardt Sr., car owner Richard Childress called upon a young Harvick to get behind the wheel and replace the man that was simply known as “The Intimidator”. In Harvick’s third NASCAR race he would win the the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 by holding off Jeff Gordon in a race that would have made Earnhardt Sr. proud. That year Harvick would go on to be NASCAR’s Rookie of the Year. Harvick has 30 victories on the Sprint Cup Series under his belt including winning the 2007 Daytona 500 and he’s also a two-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600. But since late 2014, Harvick has revved it up to another gear.
After years of competing against the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski, Harvick would win the last two races of the 2014 NASCAR season en route to claiming his first Sprint Cup Series Title and join these two as circuit champs. Harvick’s 2014 success has carried over to this year as he has put the hammer down on the race track.
The 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is only five races old, but Harvick has already been to the winner’s circle twice. This season Harvick has won the Kobalt World 400 in Las Vegas and he followed this up in the very next week by winning the CampingWorld.com 500 in Phoenix. This past Sunday, Harvick was battling with Kurt Busch to win the Auto Club 400 until several late cautions changed things. Keselowski was able to take advantage of the final green-white-checkered as he eased by Harvick and Busch to win. Harvick was denied a third straight victory, but a second place finish in California was nothing for him to hang his head over. Five races have taken place this season and Harvick has finished in the top five on each occasion. Harvick’s first victory of the season automatically qualifies him for the Sprint Chase later this year and he has a 28-point lead in the overall Sprint Cup standings over Joey Logano who is in second place.
Harvick’s shift from racing for Childress to Stewart Haas has paid huge dividends. In each of Harvick’s last three years of running under the banner of Richard Childress, he finished in the top ten of the overall Sprint Cup standings. But when he decided to join the Stewart Haas team in 2014, his production has soared to new heights as he is now one of the premier drivers on the circuit. Harvick is ascending to the heights of Johnson in NASCAR because he is always winning. And even when Harvick doesn’t win a race, he is right in the thick of things. We still have nearly six months before the Sprint Chase begins and it would be extremely easy for Harvick to sit back and relax for this spring and summer being that he has qualified for the NASCAR’s postseason. But something tells me that Harvick is not going to sit back and rest on his laurels which means that the other NASCAR drivers better buckle up for a very long season.
NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon has announced that 2015 will be his last year as a full-time driver on the Sprint Cup Series circuit. Gordon is not retiring from driving, but he will be scaling back his duties from the NASCAR schedule that begins next month with the Daytona 500 and ends in November at Homestead in Miami. But for a driver such as Gordon, he doesn’t owe anyone an explanation.
Gordon began his NASCAR career in 1992 at the Hooters 500. Gordon would finish in 31st place that day as he was trying to get his footing while competing against some of the best drivers from that era that included Dale Earnhardt Sr., Rusty Wallace, and Dale Jarrett. 1993 would be Gordon’s first full season on the Winston Cup circuit and he served noticed that he would be a force to be reckoned with as he finished fifth in the Daytona 500. Gordon wouldn’t win a race that year, but he finished 14th overall in the driver standings to finish as NASCAR’s Rookie of the Year. Gordon would win his first NASCAR race in 1994 by taking the Coca-Cola 600 which is the circuits longest race of the year. Gordon would also go on to win the inaugural Brickyard 400 that season and he finished 8th overall in the standings.
1995 would be tremendous for Gordon as he would win his first Winston Cup Title and he had to do so by fending off a seven-time champion in Earhhardt Sr. Gordon would go on to win three more Winston Cup Championships and the “Rainbow Warrior” driving his famed no. 24 DuPont Chevrolet became one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR. Gordon has won 92 NASCAR career races and only “The King” Richard Petty and David Pearson have taken home the checkered flag more than him. Gordon has been a link in NASCAR between the reign of Earnhardt Sr. and the dynasty right now of Jimmie Johnson. Even at 43-years of age Gordon still has his boyish looks, but he is far from being a pushover which is something that Brad Keslowski can attest to after their melee towards the end of last season.
Gordon might be ready to scale back on racing a bit, but he still can hold his own as he finished sixth in the Sprint Cup standings in each of the past two years. Gordon has left his mark on the sport while putting a smile on the folks at Hendrick Motorsports and racing enthusiasts across America. It’s not, but if it were to be the last chapter that was written on Gordon’s career in a stock car, it would be worth the selling price as he has simply been one of the best to ever do it.
It didn’t take driver Lewis Hamilton that long to make a name for himself on the Formula One circuit. Hamilton made his debut in 2007 and he won four races. That year Hamilton would miss out on the Formula One Championship by one point to Kimi Raikkonen, but he served notice that he would be a player on the circuit in the coming years. In 2008, Hamilton would build off of his success from his rookie campaign as he became the first black and also the youngest driver in history to win the Formula One Championship. The past five years have seen have seen Hamilton become one of the top drivers on the Formula One circuit as he finished fourth or fifth in the driver standings in each year. However Hamilton was never able to overtake Sebastian Vettel who has won the last four Formula One Titles. But this year is shaping up to be a different case for Hamilton.
With one race to go in the Formula One season, Hamilton is in first place with a 17-point lead over his Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 teammate Nico Rosberg while Vettel is nearly 200 points behind him in fourth place and he can taste his second championship.
After failing to finish the Australian Grand Prix to begin the season, Hamilton would get it going by winning the next four races. Arguably Hamilton’s greatest triumph of 2014 came on July 6 when the native Brit won the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, England in front of his fellow countrymen. To his credit Hamilton has won 10 races this season and the only incidents in which he failed to reach the podium were at the Australian,Monaco and Austrian Grands Prix when he was unable to finish each race. But for Hamilton and the men that are running the Mercedes AMG Petronas team that includes technical director Bob Bell, engineering director Aldo Costa, and technology director Geoffrey Willis, they are sitting pretty heading into the final race of the season next Sunday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Mercedes team has given Hamilton a terrific car all season long to race in and he has also previously won the Abu Dhabi Prix in 2011 which must be in the back of his mind as he prepares. Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg is currently second in the points standings and with Daniel Ricciardo 120 points behind Hamilton in the standings in third place, he should be able to secure his second Formula One Championship.
Incessant racism by some ignorant fans in Europe nor top drivers such as Raikkonen, Vettel, or Ricciardo have been able to slow down Hamilton this year and when it is all said and he’ll be able to see his name alongside those of Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, and Jim Clark as drivers from England who can claim multiple Formula One Championships.
Since 2006, NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson has taken home the Sprint Cup Series Championship six times. Johnson won five consecutive Sprint Cup Titles from 2006-2010. But after seeing Tony Stewart win the Sprint Cup Title in 2011 and Brad Kezlowski take home the glory in 2012, Johnson reclaimed his spot as the king of the mountain in NASCAR last season. In 2013, Johnson won six races including 16 top five finishes and 24 races in which he finished in the top 10. NASCAR has been around for a long time, but we have never seen dominance being put out like what Johnson is currently doing. Johnson has been racing on the NASCAR circuit since 2001 and his six Sprint Cup Championships are just one behind Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. for the all-time lead. Petty won his seven titles over a 16-year span while Earnhardt Sr. did it over a 15-year span. But NASCAR has never seen a driver like Johnson who won five in a row as he in a furious pace.
Aside from being a six-time Sprint Cup Champion, Johnson has come up big at NASCAR’s biggest races as he has won the Daytona 500 twice and he has also won NASCAR’s All-Star race twice.
One thing that separates the great drivers from the rest of the pack are the men around them. Under the guidance of Rick Hendrick at Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson has achieved his tremendous success. Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus consistently puts him in the best position to win as he is consistently off of pit row with four fresh tires and fuel in under 15 seconds as the race off of pit road is just as important as the race itself.
With a new NASCAR season almost a month away Johnson is poised to put himself in the record books alongside Petty and Earnhardt Sr. Pressure is a word that doesn’t exist in Johnson’s vocabulary because other drivers have been gunning for him since he claimed his first title in 2006. Johnson has 66 career wins under his belt and he will look to add another one to his resume next month at Daytona. Johnson won last year’s Daytona 500 which became the catalyst for him to win his sixth Sprint Cup Title and he will look to get off to another hot start as he looks to continues re-writing NASCAR’s record book.
NASCAR has seen drivers dominate different eras. From 1967-1979, NASCAR was dominated by Richard Petty who won six Winston Cup Championships. The 1980’s and 1990’s was the era that belonged to Dale Earnhardt Sr. as he won seven Winston Cup Titles. Since 2006, Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 car have dominated the scene as he has won six Sprint Cup Championships. Johnson doesn’t appear ready to surrender his throne as NASCAR’s king, but there could be an heir apparent coming down the pike in 23-year old Austin Dillon.
Dillon is a 23-year old native of Welcome, North Carolina who was born into a racing family. His father Mike Dillon was a former NASCAR driver while his grandfather Richard Childress heads Richard Childress Racing.
Dillon has spent that past few years honing his craft on the Nationwide Series which was highlighted by him winning the Nationwide Series Title last year.
Dillon will enter this season not being a stranger to Sprint Cup Series action. Dillon’s first Sprint Cup Series race was back in 2011 when he participated in the Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Motor Speedway. Dillon started 26th and finished in the same spot in his first rodeo on the big stage. Dillon was thrust into the NASCAR spotlight last season when he participated in the Daytona 500. Dillon started 8th and finished 31st overall.
Dillon spent the majority of 2013 on the Nationwide Series, but after winning the series title last season, he appears ready to make the leap with the big boys.
Dillon is a cowboy hat wearing, country boy that has a swagger about him. Dillon will be racing in the No.3 car this season and he will be the first driver to race in that car since Earnhardt Sr. was killed in 2001. Dillon has the backing of another North Carolina native in Dale Earnhardt Jr. to use the number.
Dillon is busy prepping for the 2014 Daytona 500 which will take place in about five weeks. With testing currently going on at Daytona International Speedway, Dillon’s car is nearing 200 miles per hour around the track which shows that he is more than ready.
With the likes of Johnson, Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth more than likely going into the Daytona 500 as prohibitive favorites, Dillon will look to hang with these drivers while showing his worth. The NASCAR season is a long one and Dillon must become accustomed to the long haul that will span from February to November. Gil Martin was the former crew chief for Kevin Harvick and now he’ll be entrusted with guiding the young Dillon. Dillon is a logical candidate to be NASCAR’s Rookie of the Year for 2014 and bigger trophies such as the Sprint Cup Series Championship won’t be that far away either for him.
Source: FOXSports.com, RCRRacing.com
When Colombian NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya decided to leave Formula One racing in 2007 in favor of NASCAR, he knew that it would be an uphill battle. Montoya was leaving a big pond to jump into an ocean. That NASCAR ocean has been ruled of late by drivers such as Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, and Tony Stewart. Montoya enjoyed his best NASCAR Sprint Cup finish in 2009 as he finished in 8th place. Since then his best finish came in 2010 as he took 17th place in the Sprint Cup standings. This season Montoya is currently in 20th place and thus his contract with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will not be renewed for 2014.
Montoya was looking towards joining a new NASCAR team for 2014, but instead he has opted to join Penske Racing in the Indy Car Series.
Winning a race is not just about the man behind the wheel; it is also about his crew. On June 23 at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma, California, Montoya was poised to take home the checkered flag before he ran out gas on the last lap and he had to settle for a 34th place finish. Montoya’s crew chief Chris Heroy miscalculated his fuel and the end result was a lost opportunity by the no. 42 team to gain traction to in order to get a wild card spot in the Chase for The Sprint Cup.
What has allowed drivers such as Johnson, Stewart, and Edwards to compete for and ultimately win the Sprint Cup Championship are the teams that have been put around them. Both Johnson and Stewart have won multiple Sprint Cup Series Championships and they have done it off of the strengths of their pit crews. Stewart and Johnson have both been two of the best drivers as far as consistently getting off of pit row in under 15 seconds.
Montoya has shown flashes of contending in NASCAR, but he has been unable to put it altogether for a solid run since 2009. NASCAR racing is the equivalent of the American League East in Major League Baseball as there is very room for error. A driver can worry about contending with Stewart, Edwards, and Johnson, but then drivers such as Kurt Busch, Brad Keslowski, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are extremely formidable as well just to name a few.
Montoya now gets a fresh start in the Indy Car Series as he will contend with the likes of Tony Kaanan, Will Power, Marco Andretti and Helio Castroneves. Where each NASCAR race features 43 drivers, an Indy Car Series consist of about 25 drivers. Indy Car doesn’t race every week and there isn’t the same pressure on the drivers. Somethings tells me that a new start is just what Montoya needs and that the best is yet to come.
The life of a NASCAR driver is truly demanding. You’re on the road for most of the year and you’re asked to drive around an oval on Sunday afternoons for several hours. For Jimmie Johnson he has turned NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series into his own playground. Johnson won five consecutive Sprint Cup Series Titles from 2006-2010. In 2011 and 2012, Johnson finished in the top 10 and through 15 races this season, Johnson is in first place in the driver standings with 430 points.
After being beaten out by Brad Keselowski last season for the Sprint Cup Series Championship, Johnson got things started on the right foot this season as he won the Daytona 500 to begin the year. On April 7, Johnson won the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville,Virginia and last month he won NASCAR’s All-Star Race at Charlotte for the fourth time in his career.
Johnson was looking at his fourth victory of the season last Sunday at the Pepsi 400 in Dover until he was “black flagged” late in the race for jumping the restart following a caution as the leader of the race (Juan Pablo Montoya) was the only driver that could have dictated the speed. Johnson ended up finishing 17th as Tony Stewart was the victorious driver.
With 13 races left before the Sprint Chase for The Cup begins, Johnson finds himself in familiar territory which is in the catbird’s seat.
In racing a driver is only as good as the team around him. Johnson races for Hendrick Motorsports which gives him an opportunity to be around some of the best racing personnel in the world. Johnson’s crew chief is Chad Knaus as the two have combined for 59 victories together. Johnson consistently wins the battle off of pit road as he is rarely in his pit for more than 15 seconds which gives him the upper edge with his usually superior car on the track.
Johnson is one of the few “rock stars” that NASCAR currently has. When you’re a five-time Sprint Cup Series Champion and 2009 Associated Press Male Athlete of The Year like Johnson is, the fame and hatred come with the job. The fame is from the people that appreciate Johnson’s work on the track while the hatred comes from those that are tired of seeing Johnson succeed as he makes it look extremely easy at times. As Johnson continues to battle drivers such as Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the standings, he is continuing to show the world that he is one of NASCAR’s brightest stars.
June 2008 was the last time that Dale Earnhardt Jr. entered victory lane
after he won The Lifelock 400 in Michigan. Since that time Earnhardt
and his no. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet have become
the bridesmaids of NASCAR, coming so close to victory on several
occasions. Last season started with Junior winning the pole for The
Daytona 500. Junior then suffered a practice crash which forced him to
start the race at the 43rd position due to NASCAR’s rules which prohibit
drivers from switching cars after qualifying. Last season Earnhardt Jr.
was withing half a lap of winning The Coca-Cola 600 only to run out of
gas on the final lap. Junior finished the race in seventh place.
Dale Jr. has lacked a victory in 2012, but he is having his best season
on the circuit. In September 2011, Junior signed a five-year extension
with Hendrick Motorsports and he appears to have a new peace of mind.
Earnhardt Jr. is currently fourth in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Standings and
he has nine top ten finishes and four top fives under his belt this
Junior’s success this season can be attributed to a 2010 switch by
Hendrick Motorsports involving Dale Jr., Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin.
Earnhardt Jr. saddled up with Steve Letante as his crew chief and bid
farewell to Larry McGrew who went to work with Martin. Since then Dale
Jr. is running with new life that has carried over to 2012. Almost a
third of the way into the season, Junior is on pace to clip his best
mark of 21 top tens which he achieved in both 2003 and 2004.
Aside from trying to stop his winless streak, Earnhardt Jr. has some
stiff competition to win The Sprint Cup. Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth,
and Tony Stewart are all currently in the top ten of The Sprint Cup
Standings. All three drivers have Sprint Cup Series titles with Johnson
and Stewart winning the last six. All three will continue to provide
serious competition for Junior.
Everytime that Dale Jr. appears to make progress in the standings,
current points leader Greg Biffle finds himself making a strong showing
not allowing Junior to breathe. It hasn’t fazed Earnhardt Jr. and sooner
rather than later he will once again find himself in the winner’s