John­son, Hen­drick end drought talk

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - — Ge­orge Diaz

Wel­come back, Six­Time.

Jim­mie John­son was strug­gling most of the sea­son. He and the No. 48 Lowe’s team were mak­ing un­char­ac­ter­is­tic mis­takes along pit road and else­where. It seemed like an­other failed run at a sev­enth Cup ti­tle. No more. John­son scored a dom­i­nat­ing vic­tory at Char­lotte on Sun­day, break­ing a win­less streak at 24 races. He has led the most laps in the Chase so far.

“No­body has to re­mind me that we hadn’t won a race,” team owner Rick Hen­drick said after Sun­day’s race. “You guys re­mind me of that ev­ery week­end, and they do on TV. I think we were washed up and should have quit. But it kind of mo­ti­vated us, and you know, Jim­mie just lacked speed through the mid­dle part and early part of the year. Just had to work re­ally hard to gain it back.” Day­tona track OK: You may have been shocked by pic­tures of flood­ing at Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speedway a few days ago, rem­nants of Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

Not to worry. Those im­ages were from 2009, track of­fi­cials said in a state­ment:

The track “ex­pe­ri­enced mod­er­ate dam­age from Hur­ri­cane Matthew with im­pacts to lights, speak­ers, sig­nage, fences, gates, awnings and palm trees ... Pic­tures of a past weather event at Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speedway have been cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial media. There was no flood dam­age to the fa­cil­ity from Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

“We are work­ing with lo­cal, re­gional and state of­fi­cials on re­cov­ery ef­forts fol­low­ing Hur­ri­cane Mat- Jim­mie John­son cel­e­brates in Vic­tory Lane with his wife, Chan­dra, and daugh- thew. Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speedway is once again serv­ing as a stag­ing site for Florida Power & Light crews.” Ste­wart le­gal up­date: Lit­i­ga­tion is­sues have yet to be re­solved for the in­ci­dent re­sult­ing in the death of 20- year- old sprint- car driver Kevin Ward Jr. in August 2014. Some de­po­si­tions are still needed be­fore a trial date can be set for the wrong­ful- death case brought by his par­ents against Tony Ste­wart. That won’t hap­pen un­til the sum­mer of 2017, at the ear­li­est.

The dead­line for mo­tions ask­ing the judge to rule on the case be­fore trial was moved back from Feb. 8 to May 31 dur­ing a re­cent sta­tus con­fer­ence in fed­eral court in Utica, N.Y.

Ste­wart has said that he did not see Ward Jr. un­til just be­fore Ste­wart’s sprint car struck him in a race after Ward Jr. had scram­bled out of his car, up­set about an in­ci­dent with Ste­wart on the pre­vi­ous lap.

MIKE MCCARN/AP

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