Jimmie Johnson

New Cup champ Johnson visits ‘The Dan Patrick Show’ (VIDEO)

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Fresh off of claiming his sixth Sprint Cup championship, a somewhat sleep-deprived Jimmie Johnson began his whirlwind media tour through New York City with a stop this morning on DirecTV and NBCSN’s “The Dan Patrick Show.”

Johnson, who won the title by 19 points over Matt Kenseth thanks to a ninth-place finish in Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, indicated to Patrick that he was still in shock over his latest Cup crown – a thought that he tried hard not to think about as the season headed for its conclusion.

“It’s been a wild ride,” Johnson said. “I can’t believe it’s happened. For months, I’ve pushed this notion out of my mind and didn’t want to let it in, and now, I’ve got to open up my mind and let it in.”

With his sixth title in hand, the Hendrick Motorsports driver is now just one title away from equaling seven-time Cup champions Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

Last night at Homestead, Johnson tried to stay out of the conversation over who is the best NASCAR driver of all time and said that the argument would truly begin when he hung up his helmet.

This morning, he continued to take that tack in his conversation with Patrick while additionally noting that he doesn’t know how he would’ve fared head-to-head against Petty and Earnhardt in their respective eras.

“They’re both extremely talented and dominated their eras and time,” Johnson said of The King and The Intimidator.

But in addition to being part of that racing-centric debate, Johnson and his achievements are now being stacked up against decorated champions from other sports, such as Michael Jordan in basketball and Joe Montana in football.

When Patrick asked Johnson about how his domination in racing compares to his stick-and-ball counterparts, Johnson chose to look at the similarities between the two sides.

“There are some elements that are similar but are hard to see,” Johnson said. “We do have that one-on-one battle that takes place between drivers on track, and there are things we can definitely do in the race car from a little physical contact, just getting into someone’s head and racing them real hard in getting by.

“But in the end, the win total is really what does it and also, those championships. There are some similarities if you dig in and think about it some. It’s there for sure.”

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Carlos Munoz

Carlos Munoz
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver roster in this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series. Next up in 13th is Carlos Munoz, who fell back to earth a bit after winning Indianapolis 500, then series rookie-of-the-year honors in consecutive years.

Carlos Munoz, No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 8th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 5 Top-5, 8 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 10.5 Avg. Start, 12.6 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 13th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 25 Laps Led, 14.0 Avg. Start, 12.1 Avg. Finish

Munoz fell down to earth a little bit in his second full season in IndyCar, albeit not as badly as fellow 2014 rookie Jack Hawksworth, who’d switched teams and had a myriad of issues throughout the season. He won his first race in the rain at Detroit race one, which was well judged, but there were precious other highlights from the driver who has showcased “wow” potential in the past.

His qualifying fell off year-to-year and that was probably the single thing to pinpoint as to why the decline occurred, falling from eighth to 13th in points. What had been a 10.5 average in 2014 fell to 14th this year, and behind teammates Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Ovals seemed his strongest type of circuit this year on the whole. Like teammate Justin Wilson, he’d been in position to score what would have been his third straight Indianapolis 500 top-five finish if a late splash of fuel wasn’t needed. Sixth at Texas from fourth on the grid marked his best overall weekend of the year, and fifth at Iowa and Pocono were also fairly good results.

But whereas Munoz picked his spots well last year and delivered a handful of podiums, his Detroit win marked his only podium visit this year. He didn’t really make much of an impression and was more anonymous than not over the course of the year. His future with Andretti is uncertain for 2016.

Williams maximizes wet setup work despite limited running in Sochi

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With action pretty much limited in both practice sessions due to the diesel spillage in free practice one and rain in free practice two for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, teams could only do limited wet-weather runs.

Williams Martini Racing tried to make the best of the circumstances, as one of only five teams that completed laps in FP2 (McLaren, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Ferrari) with eight cars.

Felipe Massa led second practice but it was an essentially meaningless session.

“It was quite a stunted session today which stopped us from completing all of the work we wanted to,” said Rob Smedley, Williams’ head of vehicle performance. “We had planned to run in the wet but we had a strange situation this afternoon in that half of the circuit was much wetter than the other half which made most of the tests null and void.

“We have been working on the wet set-up of the car and so wanted to get out at the end of FP2 to see the progress we have made. In a similar vein to our low speed corner work in Singapore, we seem to be making progress. We got through all of the bits and pieces we wanted to get through in terms of control systems and power unit set-up, and we have to go into tomorrow with a good plan for FP3 to get the car set-up for qualifying and the race.”

Valtteri Bottas finished third in Sochi a year ago, while Massa seeks a rebound after a fuel flow issue in qualifying resigned him to a Q1 elimination and an 11th place finish.