New arrival keeps Johnson from practice, qualifying

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange

RICHMOND, Va. -- Jimmie Johnson's scheduled Friday media availability came and went at Richmond International Raceway, but the five-time champion didn't -- and with good reason.
At 2:02 a.m. Friday, Johnson's wife Chandra gave birth to the couple's second daughter, a 5-pound, 10-ounce new arrival. Her name is Lydia Noriss.
Johnson scrapped plans to be at the race track on Friday, leaving the driving duties to NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Regan Smith, who was enlisted to practice and qualify the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS on Friday.
It was Smith who subbed for Dale Earnhardt Jr. last season when Earnhardt missed two races because of a concussion.
Johnson plans to compete in Saturday Night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond, though he'll have to start from the rear because of the driver change.
Crew chief Chad Knaus fully supported Johnson's decision to skip Friday's on-track action.
"He's enjoying the moment with Chani," Knaus said Friday morning at Richmond. "He really wanted to be here, but after talking it over with him last night and really trying to put some sense to it, it made a lot more sense for him to take the day off, get some rest, spend some time with Chani.
"That way, when he shows up here (Saturday) night, (he'll actually be) fresh and ready to go, instead of sleep-deprived and wanting to be with his kid."
Johnson has the luxury of skipping the Friday sessions, because he's already locked into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He's the only driver who has qualified for the Chase every year since the inception of NASCAR's 10-race playoff in 2004.


On the verge of making the Chase for the first time in his career, Joey Logano will do his best to accentuate the positive in Saturday night's race.
Logano is only too aware that thinking about what might go wrong can lead to costly mistakes. Accordingly, he'll do his best to keep his mind off the possible negatives.
"Obviously, you think about that stuff because you're a little nervous about it," said Logano, who is eighth in the standings, 16 points ahead of Jeff Gordon in 11th. "Hopefully, the motor holds together, hopefully the tires don't blow out, and hopefully I don't make a mistake. Really, is that going to make my race car go any faster, thinking about that stuff? No.
"As a whole team, as a tire carrier, stud the tire perfectly. If you're the crew chief calling the race, that's all you have to think about. If you're the driver, think about making the car go as fast as it possibly can. When you start thinking about all the things that can go wrong, that's when something is going to go wrong, because that's when your mind is not in the right spot.
"So, mentally, we have to be tough this weekend."


Reports that popular Brazilian IndyCar Series driver Tony Kanaan is considering an offer to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series in 2014 may be premature at best.
Yes, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner visited the Joe Gibbs Racing shop in Huntersville, N.C., and met with team principals earlier this week.
But according to JGR spokesperson Chris Helein, that's as far as it went.
"There is no deal," Helein told the NASCAR Wire Service in an e-mail response to a request for comment. "Just had an initial meeting. Nothing even being formally discussed."

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