This week was an off-week for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, so we decided to take the week off from the regular podcast. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a podcast for you this week. We’ll get to that in a minute. First let’s take a quick look at some of the news from the Gander Outdoors Truck Series this Sunday.
Saturday’s truck series race from Iowa Speedway was postponed until Sunday morning due to rain. During the race, there was an altercation between Austin Hill and Johnny Sauter that resulted in Hill spinning Sauter and putting Sauter into the wall. Instead of pitting, Sauter fired up his truck and attempted to wreck Hill. Sauter was parked for the day and called to the NASCAR hauler.
Today NASCAR announced that as a result of his actions, Sauter has been suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next Gander Outdoors Truck Series race. He remains eligible to compete for the truck series championship however. The ruling comes on the precident of similar penalties against Kyle Busch when he wrecked Ron Horniday, as well as Matt Kenseth for crashing Joey Logano a few years ago at Martinsville.
That wasn’t the only controversy from the race, however. In what seemed like a storybook ending for Ross Chastain, the “mellon man” as he has been coined dominated the race and took the win, all but ensuring he would be in the playoffs for the truck series just a couple races after changing his points eligibility from the Xfinity Series.
However, Chastain’s truck failed postrace inspection, and he was disqualified from the event. He received last-place points and forfeited the win — the first time that this has happened since NASCAR announced it would take wins away for post-race violations at the beginning of the season. As a result, Brett Moffitt was declared the winner.
We will likely talk more about both of these stories next week when James returns to the podcast.
Back to the task at hand.
Last week I was in attendance at the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. During the weekend, I was able to talk to several drivers. One of which was Jimmie Johnson. Friday morning when I was walking through the garage area, I happened across Jimmie, who bumped into former crew chief Chad Knaus. The two shared a hug and talked for several minutes. During a breakout session in the media center Friday, I was able to ask Jimmie about the meeting, and how the relationship has been with Chad since the two split at the end of the season. The audio isn’t the greatest, because I had an issue with my good recorder Friday, but it works. Here’s what he had to say.
Now the main reason for this podcast. What many may not know is, Jimmie’s current crew chief, Kevin Meendering, is a native of Michigan, having been born in Grand Rapids. As a result, a few of the journalists in attendance from Michigan were invited to chat with Meendering before the race Sunday morning. I’m going to play the interview mostly in its entirety. You’ll hear questions from me as well as the other journalists. Unfortunately, I don’t have their names. But enjoy about 15 minutes of semi-exclusive conversation with Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief, Kevin Meendering.
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