Jimmie Johnson’s Chase hopes take big hit after wreck with Greg Biffle

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Six-time and defending champ Jimmie Johnson’s hopes for a good start in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup took a big hit in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Johnson was in the middle of a big pack on Lap 85 when it appeared that he was tagged from behind by Greg Biffle, causing a four-car wreck that not only wrecked Johnson, it also collected the cars of Justin Allgaier and Josh Wise.

“I’m fine, obviously a big hit in the championship points,” Johnson told ESPN. “That’ll put a premium on next week and the week after. We have to be on our game at Charlotte and Talladega. There’s still a lot of racing left.”

Johnson now finds himself last among the 12 remaining Chase-eligible drivers. He’s essentially now a half-race worth of points behind the rest of the pack as the field will be cut to only eight drivers after Talladega in two weeks.

Johnson, who also told ESPN that he hoped his team could make repairs to get his car back ontrack sometime later in the race, had started 32nd but had moved up significantly in the pack when the wreck occurred.

Interestingly, less than 20 laps prior to the wreck with Johnson, Biffle had other issues, getting sideways with a gaggle of other cars around him.

In one of the best driving moves of the season, Biffle made an outstanding save, moving down the track, while others dodged around him.

A couple of laps before the Johnson-Biffle tangle, Jamie McMurray got into the left rear of Jeff Gordon, sending the latter into and skimming the outside retaining wall.

While both drivers fell back several spots, it appeared Gordon’s damage was not that bad.

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Robert Wickens shares more positive strides toward recovery in new video

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Robert Wickens has made massive steps since sustaining a spinal cord injury in an Aug. 19, 2018 crash at Pocono Raceway.

Since the accident, Wickens publicly has shared his recovery, often uploading videos of his physical rehabilitation on Twitter.

In his most recent update on Wednesday, Wickens shared a video of him walking on a treadmill. Fellow NTT IndyCar Series competitor Tony Kannan, who competes in triathlons during his spare time, also was visible running on the treadmill behind Wickens.

“When I am @TonyKannan [sic] age, I hope to run as fast as him…” Wickens tweeted. “Today was a good day!”

Wickens, who will turn 31 on March 13, first made his return to the IndyCar paddock in last year’s season opener in St. Petersburg. Since then, he’s made a return to the driver’s seat, piloting a specialized Acura NSX prior to the start of last year’s IndyCar race in his hometown of Toronto.

In September, Wickens fulfilled a vow to his wife Karli, by standing with her during their wedding. The new husband and wife also danced together during their reception.

Should Wickens fully recover to resume racing, Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt has stated that the team’s No. 6 entry will be available for him to drive. Wickens continues to remain as a “driver coach and consultant” for the team.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter