Sylvania 300 - Qualifying

One day after LeBron’s issues, Jimmie Johnson shares his own cramp tale

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After cramps sidelined LeBron James late in last night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals, he has been taking heat (no pun intended) from all sides.

But cramps can have a devastating effect on even the greatest of athletes. Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson can tell you that from experience.

The six-time champ, along with his fellow NASCAR drivers, constantly has to keep up with hydration in order to combat the sweltering conditions inside the race car.

When they don’t (or can’t), it can lead to big problems like the one Johnson experienced during a GRAND-AM sports car event at Daytona International Speedway in 2007.

That race took place during the Coke Zero 400 weekend at DIS, and as he was going between his GRAND-AM and Sprint Cup duties, Johnson fell behind on keeping hydrated.

Big mistake.

“We had an electrical problem that took out the drink system in the car,” Johnson recalled today at Pocono Raceway. “And I had to pit maybe 10 minutes before it was time, because I couldn’t push the brake pedal hard enough to get it stopped – I missed the chicane on the backstretch.”

Johnson was able to reach the pits and promptly tried to cool himself down and took some fluids. But that did not prevent him from experiencing what he called a “full-body cramp” that had him crumple to the floor of his motorhome.

“I wish I had a picture of what I looked like – I’m telling you, every muscle in my body locked up,” he said.

Forced to knock his phone off a nearby table, Johnson was able to call Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, whose own motorhome was next door.

Gordon didn’t answer the first time, but luckily he called back and promptly headed over to help Johnson.

“When he came in my bus, it took him two or three minutes to stop laughing at me,” Johnson said. “And then he got me to the care center. Three IV bags later, I felt like myself again.”

Unlike James, however, Johnson was at least lucky enough to have his cramping issues while he wasn’t competing.

As a side note, Johnson appeared to defend the basketball icon this morning on Twitter after noting that he needed to “get some Gatorade in his life“:

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.