Through the first eight races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Jimmie Johnson has jumped out to a dominating 37-point lead in the standings following a third-place finish Sunday at Kansas Speedway. “It's hard to believe we've got a huge gap like that in the points already,” Johnson said. “Just very proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. We've been off to a great year and even had some trouble at Bristol and didn't finish as well as we did there, and 37 points up on everybody is pretty awesome.” Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne currently is second, a point ahead of defending champion Brad Keselowski, who took a big hit when NASCAR handed down a 25-point penalty at Texas Motor Speedway for failing pre-race inspection due to issues with the suspension system. … NASCAR inspectors also were busy at Kansas Speedway this past weekend and confiscated the fuel cell from Camping World Truck Series points leader Johnny Sauter. NASCAR did not announce what the issue was, but will review it this week and announce any possible penalties for an infraction. Sauter won the first two races of the season and followed that up with fourth- and fifth-place finishes. He swept the Camping World Truck Series races at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, with his first race title defense coming in the WinStar World Casino 400 on June 7. … The NASCAR community banded together to show their support for Boston over the weekend at the STP 400 at the Kansas Speedway. Roush Fenway Racing, co-owned by the Fenway Sports group that owns the Boston Red Sox, had the Red Sox “B-Strong” decals on all three of its cars in the race. Co-owner Jack Roush also donated $100 for every one of the 45 laps his team led in the race, amounting to $4,500 for The One Fund Boston, which benefits those who need financial help in the aftermath of the bombing. In addition, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said after the race that he will donate $100 for every one of the 26 laps he led, adding an additional $2,600 to the fund. “When events occur such as what happened earlier this week in Boston, it is our nature to be overwhelmed with a variety of emotions, “Roush said on the team’s website. “To have to withstand an act of such senselessness and cowardice against innocent people is disheartening to us all. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families as well as the entire city of Boston.” … Michael Waltrip Racing also featured door numbers that resembled the Boston Marathon runner’s bib on all three of their cars. Team co-owner Michael Waltrip ran in the Boston Marathon in 2000. … Scott Speed, who did not qualify for the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13 for Levine Family Racing, has added a new driving series to his résumé and some serious hardware to this trophy case. Speed made his RallyCross debut over the weekend at X Games Fox do Iguacu in Brazil and outlasted multiple X Games medalist Travis Pastrana, defending silver medalist Ken Block and last year’s overall Global Rally Cross Championship winner Tanner Faust for the gold medal. Pastrana, Block and Faust all got tangled up in a wreck and Speed capitalized after jumping into a RallyCross car for the first time earlier in the week. “To be able to win it like this, to make passes at the end of the heat race and the main event, I couldn't ask for a better story," Speed said to ESPN.com. "The racing was so much fun all week, the learning curve was huge and I still have a lot to learn. It definitely fits my driving style clearly, and I have an X Games gold medal. I definitely never thought I'd be able to pull that off in my life." … With all the fanfare and prestige that comes with the Indianapolis 500, rookie drivers are often a bit overwhelmed with the entire experience. That’s one of the reasons that INDYCAR officials have formed the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program. It gives drivers who have never competed in the race a chance to get some track time and get acclimated to the 2.5-mile oval. INDYCAR sets three different speeds for the drivers to turn the laps and the program will take place May 11-12. The four drivers scheduled to participate are AJ Allmendinger (Team Penske), Conor Daly (A.J. Foyt Racing), Carlos Munoz (Andretti Autosport) and Tristan Vautier (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports).
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