With Jimmie Johnson finally having won a race, what will the media do now?

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When he was brought into the media center of Charlotte Motor Speedway after winning Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, Jimmie Johnson asked the media a question before he took theirs.

“What the hell are you all going to write about now? We won. Anybody?” Johnson said with a big smile on his face.

That’s simple, Jimmie, we’ll write about Matt Kenseth still being winless.

Getting a bit more serious, the weight of not having a win in 2014 has finally been lifted off Johnson’s shoulders. And while that’s good for Johnson, who becomes the 10th different winner in the season’s first 12 races, it’s terrible for NASCAR.

Wait, let me clarify that a bit more.

It’s terrible for every other driver in Sprint Cup. Because we know all too well that when Johnson gets hot, he typically stays hot.

And with a number of tracks coming up where he has been nothing short of outstanding, Johnson is poised to go from previously being winless to an unstoppable winning machine.

Look at this coming Sunday’s race at Dover. In 24 starts there, Johnson will be going for his ninth win and 18th overall top 10 finish.

From there, the series moves to Pocono, where Johnson has three wins and 16 top 10 finishes in 24 starts.

Surprising as it may seem, after that comes Michigan, where Johnson has never won a Cup race, one of only five tracks that he has never visited victory lane at.

Then there’s Sonoma (one win), Kentucky (no wins), Daytona (three wins) and New Hampshire (three wins).

So over the course of the next seven upcoming races, Johnson has earned 18 wins, nearly one-quarter of the 67 wins he has earned in his Cup career.

If this were Major League Baseball, Johnson would be coming into the sweet spot of the season. And with his win Sunday, it doesn’t get much sweeter – or optimistic – that he’ll most definitely make up for what it took 12 races to finally cash in on.

“The thing that’s on our side is that we’ve got on our side is a little bit of time to really get an understanding of what’s going on,” crew chief Chad Knaus said. “The other thing we’ve got on our side is we’re going to Dover, which is by far one of Jimmie’s favorite racetracks.

“Then we’re going to Pocono, which is one of my favorite racetracks. Doesn’t hurt. So I think over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

That’s all the other 40-some Cup teams needed to hear. But for Johnson, he’ll savor Sunday’s win a little longer than normal, still knowing that there are 24 more races still to be won this season.

“We’re off to a good start,” Johnson said. “Multiple wins do that. If we can take advantage of the next few tracks that are great tracks for us, it would be great momentum.”

Now Johnson can go back somewhat to normal. Everything is right in his world, in the sense that he finally won a race in 2014. Still, Johnson was never vexed or jaded or anxious about it. It just took him a little longer than planned.

“More than anything, I just got tired of answering the question (of when his first win of 2014 would come),” Johnson admitted. “There wasn’t a lot of frustration due to pressure of winning. There was frustration in not having fast racecars, but that’s a different situation.

“Granted, tonight simplifies things. We’ll take it, move on. We really want to heat up and win races later in the season, especially before the Chase starts.

“I guess we’ve created this environment for ourselves. I honestly wasn’t stressing. The fact that 12 races created that much buzz just means we’ve done a lot of great things over the years, so I’ll turn it into a compliment.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change