Deal struck on EMT reviews

first_imgAB 941 aims to fix those problems, according to its co-sponsors, Sens. Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, and Roy Ashburn R-Bakersfield. The lack of uniform standards has been a source of frustration for firefighters, who may face separate punishments from their employer and the certifying county. Ridley-Thomas said AB 941 would guarantee fairer treatment. “This represents a big step in the right direction for (emergency medical services) governance and public and patient protection in California,” said Bruce Lee, emergency medical director for Santa Clara County and chairman of the task force that drafted the deal with input from employers, administrators and unions. Assembly Bill 941, expected to go to the Senate on Monday, reflects months of talks and bitter recriminations about how to fix the state’s patchwork certification system for emergency medical technicians. The bill, however, is a political setback for EMSA and its director, Dr. Cesar Aristeiguieta, which had hoped to assume control of certifying and disciplining EMTs. The new bill would require: The legislation was prompted by a Bee investigation earlier this year that highlighted flaws in the state’s EMT system. Legislators and key players in California’s emergency medical services world hammered out a deal Friday to require rescuers to undergo mandatory criminal background checks. Ridley-Thomas praised the deal, backed by the California Ambulance Association, ambulance giant American Medical Response, the California Fire Chiefs Association and others. “This bill prevents EMTs who were fired from simply moving to another county where they can keep their past hidden,” Ridley-Thomas said through a spokeswoman. “Californians will be much safer.” Background checks for all 70,000 EMTs in California, including FBI and state Department of Justice criminal records checks before an EMT card is issued or renewed.EMT certifications to be issued to applicants only in the county where they work — or live, if they are not yet employed — to prevent EMT certification shopping.A centralized database of all certified EMTs and their disciplinary records to be created by the state Emergency Medical Services Authority, which already licenses and disciplines paramedics. The bill does not provide money for the registry, and terms of discipline would continue to be handled by counties and employers.Statewide certification and discipline standards to be created by the state EMSA. However, in a little noticed clause, AB 941 would make it harder for the public to learn of the very abuses that led to the measure. The bill seeks to make private the information that EMT employers provide state or county authorities about misconduct and wrongdoing.center_img Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware, which promotes open government and accountability, criticized the clause. The Bee reported that paramedics stripped of state licenses after being found guilty of sexual misconduct or patient neglect had obtained county-issue EMT cards and returned to jobs in ambulances, hospitals and fire departments. Counties, The Bee found, did not always run background checks, and communication among them was spotty at best. EMSA spokeswoman Shirley Tsagris declined to comment.About the writer:The Bee’s Andrew McIntosh can be reached at (916) 321-1215 or amcintosh@sacbee.com. “We identified a problem and I’m thankful we all got past our egos and worked hard to fix it,” Stone said. “Given that this issue wouldn’t even have risen to legislators’ attention without research by The Bee, it’s ironic to see a purported solution include a measure making it much harder to find out about these problems,” Francke said. “Secrecy is never part of the solution.” California is the only state that lacks statewide EMT licensure and mandatory background checks, an omission that The Bee found also let EMTs with serious criminal pasts retain their credentials. If the Senate approves the legislation, it must return to the Assembly before going to the governor’s desk. That proposal was attacked by the firefighters’ union and ambulance industry representatives, who said EMSA already was struggling to keep abreast of troubled paramedics. Lew Stone, a vice president of the California Professional Firefighters union, also praised the deal, saying the tough new rules will increase public confidence in rescuers.last_img read more

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With a little help from his PC

first_imgWith “The Ringo Starr Fine Art Show” paying a visit to 60 Church St. in Harvard Square for a three-day stint starting today (June 7), some might assume that the man who rocked the kit for the most influential band in the history of rock ’n’ roll has traded in his sticks for paint and brushes. Not so. The beloved Beatle actually uses a computer to make his art. (Fans of Starr’s musical work, meanwhile, can relax: his 15th solo studio album is forthcoming.)Co-sponsored by the Harvard Square Business Association and 100.7 WZLX FM (with exhibit space made available by Harvard Real Estate Services), “The Ringo Starr Fine Art Show” will feature 17 of Starr’s colorfully buzzing portraits of his far-out, imagined “people.” All of the pieces, hand signed and numbered, will be available for purchase with 100 percent of the proceeds going to charity.Combining the bold decor of ’80s pop art with the hasty forms reminiscent of underground comic pioneer Mark Beyer or cable TV’s “Dr. Katz,” Starr’s work is, at its core, fun and organic. And, he admits proudly, “childlike.” It’s a fitting end product (and outlet) for Starr, a performer long noted for his sense of humor and humility. Both qualities were in evidence during a recent phone interview with the musician/visual artist.“I’ve always sort of drawn and painted all the time, really, and just sort of created stuff … It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed. The idea that you totally get involved in it, suddenly you’re in it,” Starr says, adding, “It’s so great for me.“As a drummer, I always need the other people,” Starr says, chuckling. “You know, I’d like to do ‘A Little Help from My Friends’ just on the drums, [but] you need the pianos and the guitars.”When it comes to Starr’s creative process in producing his visual art, those “pianos” and “guitars”— his friends — are his mind, mood, and the machine sitting across from him.“I just go free-falling. Whatever the face turns out, it turns out. I just guess the colors off the top of my head at that moment,” Starr says, referring to the final product, and succinctly so, as “abstract Zen art.”Starr’s trouble-free approach to creating his art informs every aspect of the process, including the very naming of the pieces. Turns out, Starr designates titles for the majority of his pieces only because he’s required to do so in order to save the file. Consequently, the artist takes a no-frills approach to naming a good number of his pieces for referencing later on. “If you ever want to find it again, you got to give it a name,” he says. For this reason, one doesn’t have to guess too hard what such pieces as “Hat Man” and “Three Faces” are all about.This practice, however, can throw off his audience.Take for instance, his piece “Zak.” Naturally, it’s a portrait of his son (a talented drummer in his own right who plays with The Who), right?“Well, that’s not him,” Starr explains. “I put those letters in the hat to see what it looked like,” Starr says, in reference to the word “Zak” resting on the subject’s hat. “And then I couldn’t find out how to get rid of them,” he admits. Such is Starr’s approach: embracing the happy accidents and enjoying the ride.Or, as Starr puts it, “You take the most sophisticated machine and they look like they’ve been done by children. Isn’t that a groove?”One hundred copies of each of Starr’s pieces will be available for purchase with prices ranging from $400 to $1,800. All proceeds benefit the Lotus Foundation, a London-based organization that supports a range of charitable causes, including family and child welfare, animal protection, and addiction recovery and education.‘The Ringo Starr Fine Art Show’ will run June 7-10 at 60 Church St. The show is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. except for June 10 (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The exhibit, which includes ‘A Little Help From His Friends — John, Paul and George’ (a collection of hand signed pieces from Starr’s band mates), is free and open to the public. The show will mark the largest collection of signed Beatles artwork ever assembled.last_img read more

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Environmental work honored by HMS

first_imgThe Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School (HMS) has named Kofi Annan and Alice Waters as its 2008 Global Environmental Citizen Award recipients.During his tenure as secretary-general of the United Nations, Annan provided leadership in a number of initiatives that recognized that protecting the environment is fundamental to international development, including the groundbreaking Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. He is the co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize and is now chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, a partnership working across the continent that aims to help millions of small subsistence farmers lift themselves out of poverty while safeguarding the environment.As the owner and founder of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., Waters is a pioneering advocate for sustainable agriculture and local, seasonal foods and is one of America’s most influential chefs. In 1996 she started the Chez Panisse Foundation, which supports such educational initiatives as the Edible Schoolyard, an organic garden and kitchen classroom at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley. These programs help people understand how local, sustainable food benefits food quality, their health, and the environment.The recipients will be presented with the Global Environmental Citizen Awards during a gala celebration and fundraiser Feb. 3, 2008, in New York City. The yet unnamed 2008 Corporate Council Award recipient will also be honored during this event.last_img read more

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A Genetic Cause for Iron Deficiency

first_imgThe discovery of a gene for a rare form of inherited iron deficiency may provide clues to iron deficiency in the general population – particularly iron deficiency that doesn’t respond to iron supplements. The finding was published online by the journal Nature Genetics on April 13.Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most cases are easily reversed with oral iron supplements, but over the years, Mark Fleming, interim Pathologist-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital Boston, and pediatric hematologist Nancy Andrews, formerly of Children’s Hospital and now Dean of Duke University School of Medicine, had been referred a number of children with iron deficiency anemia who didn’t respond to oral supplements, and only poorly to intravenous iron.The cause of their condition – termed iron-refractory iron-deficiency anemia (IRIDA) – was a mystery. The children all had good diets, and none had any condition that might interfere with iron absorbtion or cause chronic blood loss, the most common causes of iron deficiency anemia. Seeing reports of several similarly afflicted families in the medical literature, Flemming and Andrews were convinced that genetics was a factor.“After nearly 15 years, we finally had enough families that we could begin to think about positionally cloning the gene for the disorder,” says Fleming, who is also an associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School.Fleming and Andrews, experts in iron metabolism, and their colleagues Karin Finberg and Matthew Heeney, studied five extended families with more than one chronically iron-deficient member. They found a variety of mutations in a gene called TMPRSS6 (the acronym stands for transmembrane serine protease S6) in all of these families, as well as several patients without a family history of the disorder. Although IRIDA is quite rare, the authors believe it might be the extreme end of a broad continuum of disease, since TMPRSS6 mutations varied widely in the five families and caused different degrees of iron deficiency and anemia.“Our observations suggest that more common forms of iron deficiency anemia may have a genetic component,” says Andrews.All patients in the study apparently had recessive mutations, since their parents did not have iron deficiency anemia. The investigators now want to determine whether people with just a single abnormal copy of TMPRSS6 have subtler alterations in iron absorption that might not otherwise have come to the attention of a hematologist.Although the mechanism is still unknown, deficiency of the TMPRSS6 protein causes the body to produce too much hepcidin, a hormone that inhibits iron absorption by the intestine. Normally, hepcidin is produced to protect the body against iron overload- but patients with IRIDA make large amounts of hepcidin even through they are iron deficient. “People with this disorder make too much hepcidin, putting the brakes on iron absorption inapropriately,” Fleming says.In addition, patients with TMPRSS6 mutations cannot make new red blood cells efficiently because the iron needed to make them comes from macrophages, and hepcidin causes macrophages to hold on to iron. This explains the patients’ poor response to intravenous iron – the iron is trapped in macrophages and cannot be used for red blood cell production.The fact that TMPRSS6 regulates hepcidin may open up new avenues for therapy, the researchers say. For example, blocking TMPRSS6 may help patients with iron overload disorders make more hepcidin in order to limit intestinal iron absorption.  Conversely, stimulating TMPRSS6 may have therapeutic benefit in certain patients with anemia, particularly those in which hepcidin is overproduced.The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.last_img read more

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HESLS presents discussion on ‘Power Dynamics in Negotiation’

first_imgThe Harvard Extension Service and Leadership Society (HESLS), in conjunction with the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, presented “Power Dynamics In Negotiations” on Saturday (May 3).The event, which featured a diverse lineup of speakers, incorporated two panels: “Personal & Financial Negotiations” and “Culture, Ethnicity and Race in Negotiations.”Despite the inclement weather, approximately 240 people gathered at the Harvard Yenching Institute to hear Jeswald Salacuse, professor of law at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, offer the keynote address.“Ethnic and racial conflicts are the most difficult to negotiate because they involve identity and the core of who you are,” said Salacuse told the audience.The HESLS, which serves Harvard’s community of Extension School students who maintain an active interest in public service and leadership, considered this event a “historical first.”“While organizing and selecting speakers, some leading negotiation scholars at HBS [Harvard Business School] and KSG [Harvard Kennedy School] indicated their personal approval of … this event especially because the topic of race in negotiations is understudied and can be seen as groundbreaking within the field of negotiation theory and practice here at Harvard,” said Andre Bisasor, conference chair and HESLS president. The forum’s topic, he continued, also resonated well with the students.last_img read more

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Plant diversity, altitude leave collectors breathless in China

first_imgHarvard researcher Dave Boufford offered a strange description of a plant, even one whose bulky, knobby flower proved partly resistant to the pressing and drying process through which botanical samples routinely go.“They look like little animals sitting on rocks,” he said.Boufford, a senior research scientist, was standing on the fourth floor of the Harvard Herbaria, between the rows of tall green metal cabinets that hold the Herbaria’s collections, famed for their extensive representation of Asian plants.Moments earlier, he had opened a cabinet midway down the aisle in the nearly deserted stacks and had begun pulling out folders filled with specimens from a remote region of China, hard by the Tibetan border.In the folders were a greenhouse plant with nearly translucent leaves that cover its flowers, creating a warm oasis in the high-altitude chill for pollinating insects; the starfish-like Saussurea stella, whose purple-tinged leaves lie close to the ground; and its relative, Saussurea medusa, much larger and coated with furry-looking fine hairs, which prompted Boufford’s double take when he encountered it in the field.“Why is it so hairy? Some thought it was to keep the plant warm, but right next door are plants without hairs,” Boufford said.This minor mystery is just one of many that remain unanswered in the place these plants call home: the remote Hengduan Mountains of China.A dramatic, high-altitude region of breathtaking views, steep valleys, and incredible biodiversity, the Hengduan Mountains are part of a larger area considered a global biodiversity hotspot. The nonprofit group Conservation International calls the mountains of southwest China the most biodiverse temperate region in the world, home of the giant panda, the golden monkey, and 3,500 endemic plant species.It is the plants that draw Harvard’s Boufford, who began collecting in the region in the mid-1990s. In 1998, Boufford, the Arnold Arboretum, and the Harvard University Herbaria struck up a research collaboration with several Chinese institutions, including the Kunming Institute of Botany and the Institute of Botany in Beijing. The partnership has proven beneficial to both sides. The National Science Foundation and Harvard provide funding, which is often scarce for such purposes in China, while Chinese scholars provide access to parts of the country to which Westerners may have difficulty obtaining travel permission. The financial investment has helped bring in additional dollars, prompting matching funds from the Chinese National Natural Science Foundation.“It’s worked out very well,” Boufford said. “It’s just a fantastic area. There’s always the chance of discovering new things.”Together, the project’s Chinese and American scientists have collected between 120,000 and 150,000 specimens representing 6,000 species. Over the project’s course, they’ve identified 30 new species of plants and fungi and created an online database of images and descriptions useful for scholars around the world. One of their goals is to define the hotspot’s boundaries, by finding places where biodiversity drops fairly quickly. Boufford said some of the diversity may be tied to rainfall, since they have observed what he described as “fingers of diversity” running with the rain patterns up mountain valleys.As a companion effort, Susan Kelley, the project’s longtime manager who last spring moved to the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, has created an online gazetteer of Chinese place names. Boufford said the gazetteer is a critical resource in figuring out where past specimens were collected, in a time before global positioning systems and in a region where international researchers have transliterated names differently over decades of collecting.Once gathered and processed, the specimens not only augment collections at Harvard and the host Chinese institutions, but are shared with researchers around the world in a collaborative exchange that trades specimens for expert help identifying them.Zhu L. Yang, a mycologist at the Kunming Institute and a collaborator of Boufford’s since the late 1990s, said the expeditions bolster collections gathered from the region in the 1970s and ’80s, which in some cases were poorly preserved and are unsuitable for modern scientific study.“Working conditions were very hard and the equipment for drying specimens very simple and poor — they usually dried specimens with fire directly in the field,” Yang said. “Consequently, the specimens were in most cases poorly preserved and can’t serve as materials for current scientific studies. Through conduct of this project, we can go to many distant and inaccessible places to collect specimens. This is especially important for current molecular biological investigations. If you have no specimens of high quality, you can’t get reliable scientific data.”Boufford and colleagues are following up on the Chinese travels of Joseph Rock, a botanist who collected in the region for decades in the early 20th century. Rock worked for several scientific institutions, including Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, for which he collected 20,000 specimens in 1924.The project has recently shifted its Harvard home. After being based at the Arnold Arboretum for more than a decade, in July the project, along with Boufford, moved over to the Harvard University Herbaria.Boufford has focused his efforts on the interior of the Hengduan Mountains because Rock collected from their periphery. The area’s biodiversity is even more remarkable, Boufford said, because its elevation is so high. The region they collect from averages 14,000 feet, with a growing season of just three months.The mountains are the birthplace of several of Asia’s principal rivers, including the Yangtze, which flows through China; the Mekong and the Salween, which flow through several countries in Southeast Asia; and the rivers that join to form Burma’s Irrawaddy. The result, Boufford said, is terrain that is quite variable. The upper Yangtze, for example, flows through a gorge at 6,000 feet between mountains that tower to more than 18,000 feet.The result is a profusion of environmental conditions in a very small area. The terrain in low canyons can be almost desertlike, with naturalized cacti from the Americas, while other areas hold rich forests, expansive meadows, and, above tree line, squat plants characteristic of alpine areas.A field season lasts roughly two months and requires more months in the laboratory to process and identify the specimens. Richard Ree, assistant curator of botany at the Field Museum in Chicago, wrote his doctoral dissertation about specimens gathered while working with Boufford. Ree, who received his doctorate from Harvard in 2001, participated in several field seasons from 1997 to 2000, and then continued to collaborate with Boufford after graduating, right through last summer’s trip.Ree, Boufford, and Kelley described field conditions that have varied widely over time. Initially, the roads were in such poor shape — with 1,000-foot drop-offs — that Boufford was certain someone would eventually die on them. They’ve improved considerably since, however, as the Chinese government seeks to open Tibet to tourism and settlement by Han Chinese. A trip that used to take seven or eight hours can now be done in just an hour and a half, they said.Along with the travel improvements, however, have come more people, with the accompanying need to lodge and feed them, meaning more yaks and goats grazing, and more searchers collecting plants for medicinal purposes.“It’s quite remote,” Kelley said. “Yet, at the same time, just when you think you’ve stepped on ground nobody ever stepped on before, there’s a Tibetan.”Sleeping conditions have also varied widely on the collecting trips, from tents and sleeping bags in the field to more comfortable accommodations at new hotels.The group of American and Chinese colleagues generally gets moving early in the day. Researchers pile into several cars that head in different directions. Once they reach their destinations, the collectors hike in various directions, gathering several specimens of each type of plant they find before rejoining colleagues at the car at day’s end. In their travels, researchers have to be prepared for mountain weather, which can be warm enough for shirtsleeves, and cool enough for pounding hail a short time later.The trips have fostered friendships and professional respect among researchers in the two nations. Yang has visited Harvard three times to examine the fungal collections, books, journals, and papers at the Farlow Herbarium. He also has sent his doctoral students here twice and has fielded requests from American mycologists for materials from the Hengduan Mountains.The main collaborator for vascular plants, Professor Hang Sun, and six of his students have also visited Harvard to study the Herbaria’s rich collections of Asian specimens and literature. Nine students from China have earned doctoral degrees through their direct involvement in the project.For the researchers, the payback is not just the incremental advance of scientific knowledge and the relationship building among scientists of two nations, it is also the personal experience of working in one of the world’s most beautiful places. Kelley described the terrain as “dream geography” and Ree and Boufford said the mere act of lifting one’s eyes is rewarded with awe-inspiring views of snow-capped peaks and glaciers.“It really is a dramatic, breathtaking landscape,” Ree said. “You don’t ever get used to it.”last_img read more

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Jimmie Johnson tames Dover in OT, ties Yarborough on all-time list

first_imgRELATED: Race results | Series standings | Detailed breakdownSHOP: Jimmie Johnson gear Jimmie Johnson passed Kyle Larson on an overtime restart to roar to his third Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season Sunday at Dover International Speedway, tying NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough on the all-time win list.Johnson led just twice for seven laps in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism, his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet taking the checkered flag under caution as a multicar crash ended the race on its lone overtime attempt. Johnson’s 11th win at the 1-mile track was the 83rd of his career in NASCAR’s premier series.“To be here and tie him at 83 wins is amazing,” Johnson said of Yarborough, a three-time series champion who retired after the 1988 season. “We just got the tribute helmet. I wasn’t sure how quickly we’d be, or if we’d be able to go there, and get it done. But, Cale, you’re the man. Thank you for all you have done for our sport.”Johnson started from the back of the pack after his Hendrick Motorsports team made an unapproved pre-race gear change on the No. 48 Chevrolet, but rallied to lead in the late going.RELATED: Milestone wins in careers of Johnson, Yarborough | Watch highlights of both driversThe final restart denied Larson, who led six times for a race-high 241 laps but was saddled with second place. A yellow flag for David Ragan’s crash with four laps left in regulation erased Larson’s late lead, bunching up the field and eventually sending the race six laps past its scheduled 400-lap distance.Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet struggled to get going on the final drop of the green, bumped from behind by rookie Ty Dillon’s No. 13 Chevrolet. He held on to finish second for the fifth time in 13 races this season.“Obviously I didn’t need that last caution,” Larson said. “Yeah, I mean, Jimmie is the best of our time, probably the best of all time. He just has obviously a lot more experience than I do out on the front row late in races and executed a lot better than I did.  I’ve got to get better at that and maybe get some more wins.”Martin Truex Jr. led three times for 102 laps, but was shuffled back after a Lap 343 caution flag fell during a pit-stop cycle. The series points leader rallied to finish third in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota. Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott completed the top five.Dillon, who rose into contention with a timely late caution period, led 27 laps and was poised for his first career top-five finish in the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet. But Dillon spun on the backstretch in the close-quarters racing to the finish, with several cars stacking up behind him.Truex added to his stockpile of playoff points by winning the first and second stages, running his season total of stage wins to eight — most in the series.MORE: Truex sweeps first two stagesSeveral pitfalls flared up early, with five yellow flags in the opening 120-lap stage. Pole-starter and early leader Kyle Busch was among the first snared by issues, leaving pit road without his left-rear wheel properly attached. After an extra pit stop to replace the errant wheel and repair fender damage on the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, Busch recovered to race into the top five.MORE: Early pit-road woes for Kyle BuschBusch later made an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel with 38 laps left. He wound up 16th.A Lap 65 crash derailed Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch, both former Dover winners. Kurt Busch lost control racing alongside Larson on a restart, forcing Keselowski’s Team Penske No. 2 Ford into the outside wall. Keselowski was done for the day in 38th place, finishing next to last for the second straight week. Kurt Busch continued with damage, but was sidelined 30 laps later by a more severe solo wreck that left him with a 37th-place result.MORE: Keselowski, Kurt Busch sidelinedlast_img read more

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Preview: Dale Jr. at the Tricky Triangle

first_imgRELATED: Full schedule for Pocono | Junior reveals his top 10 drivers to root forFor his final full-time season as a driver, NASCAR.com will offer an analytical preview on Dale Earnhardt Jr. ahead of every remaining Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.Race: Axalta presents the Pocono 400 at Pocono RacewayDate: June 11, 3 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)Previous five results at Pocono: 2nd, 4th, 11th, 1st, 1stRELATED: Dale Jr.’s stats at PoconoNotable: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s career average finish at Pocono equals 14.4 – but his average finish in the last five races is 3.8. He swept the track with a pair of wins in 2014 and most recently nabbed a runner-up victory in last year’s June races won by Kurt Busch. Junior has also seen consistency in recent years at the Tricky Triangle; he has only finished one race outside the top 11 in his past 11 races.Memorable moment: Clever pit strategy by then-crew chief Steve Letarte played into Earnhardt Jr.’s win at Pocono in August 2014 that gave him a season sweep of the Tricky Triangle. With 39 laps to go, Letarte instructed the crew to put four fresh tires on the No. 88 before taking a splash of fuel — rather than a full tank — 10 laps later to put him ahead of the field. Junior held off a fast-charging Kevin Harvick for the remainder of the race to win the GoBowling.com 400 by .228 seconds. It marked Earnhardt’s second sweep of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career (the first at Talladega in 2006).Quotable: “Pocono is a good track for us,” Earnhardt said in a team release. “I like both Pocono and Michigan, so we have some solid tracks coming up for the No. 88 gang. We were in the simulator this week working on Pocono. We’ve been working really, really hard the last three weeks. It’s been going great – the cars have gotten better in practice and we’re seeing some good improvements, so we’re going to keep grinding. We’re going in the right direction.”last_img read more

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Jimmie Johnson to shift offseason approach, ‘buckle down’ for 2018 turnaround

first_imgRELATED: Recap Johnson’s 2017 season | Jimmie through the yearsLast year as a newly crowned seven-time champion, Jimmie Johnson spent much of the offseason at his new home in Colorado – skiing, getting his young daughters up on snowboards and generally enjoying the good times and just rewards of having cemented his legendary status in the sport.This offseason, following a 10th-place finish in the points standings, will feel and look much different Johnson said last week during NASCAR’s Champion’s Week in Las Vegas.“Last year we knew was pretty unique in being able to spend five full months out there [in Colorado] in a row,’’ Johnson said. “This year we won’t do that, we’ll just go out for holiday seasons and maybe West Coast swings, things like that.“I’m sad I won’t be there as much but it was a lot easier last year after a championship. With the poor finish we just had, we need to buckle down and get to work.’’A tough second half of the season relegated the 2016 champion to an early exit from the ’17 playoffs. His last top-10 finish of the year came at Charlotte (seventh) with six races remaining in the schedule and he closed out the season with a highly uncharacteristic stretch of 27th, 39th and 27th–place finishes – ultimately placing the No. 48 team at the bottom of the top 10 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.Although he started the season strong, leading the series with three wins by spring, 2017 marked the first time in Johnson’s 16-year full-time career he did not win a race after the start of summer. His 217 laps led marked a career low.“I feel like the way the last quarter of the season went for us was below our expectations and certainly our fans and probably even the people reporting on the sport,’’ Johnson reflected. “It is unfair to always expect us to win a championship but I think being competitive and leading laps and challenging for wins … that’s a fair expectation and we just didn’t do that at the end of the year.“That wasn’t easy to deal with. I had a good couple weeks, kinda relaxing after Homestead but then next week will be a work week, time to get back in the shop. I’m ready to get back to work.”As Johnson spoke with reporters, the disappointment was palpable, but so was the passion to return to the winning ways modern NASCAR has become accustomed to seeing out of this No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team. It’s hard to consider it an “off year” with three wins in that column, but the expectations here are different. So re-grouping, re-energizing and re-evaluating it is.“Every offseason has different effects,’’ Johnson said. “This one is much more about letting go of stress and tension and relaxing. Last year after winning the championship it was being on top of the world and celebrating and trying to get to Colorado as fast as I could to ski as often as I could. This year is a lot different“This year I’m kind of licking my wounds in a sense. Trying to think through what we could have done better in ’17. As the month moves on start thinking of ways we could communicate better, put a better product on the track.”Johnson is convinced that his Hendrick Motorsports team will be putting a better product on track next year.“I’m optimistic about 2018 and the new Camaro,’’ Johnson said, his face lighting up in enthusiasm. “From an aerodynamic standpoint the Chevrolets have not had an update since we went to this generation of car. For us to finally have an update the car will produce more downforce, be more efficient, definitely more competitive on the downforce tracks.”When you have won 83 races and seven Cup championships, it’s easy to feel optimistic and confident. Johnson has not only won a race in all 16 full Cup seasons, he has won multiple races every year and has top-five finishes (222) in an amazing 38 percent of all Cup races (579) he’s competed in. It’s safe to say Johnson knows how to maintain both good perspective and high motivation. “Change is good,’’ Johnson said smiling. “No one is ever really in the same place individually, collectively or as a group. You’re either growing together or growing a part.  Some change is always happening, so I think the change taking place for us is change in the right direction, will bring the company closer together and produce a better product, more competitive cars.”“Our goal is to be in that (Championship 4) and compete for a championship.”last_img read more

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Kyle Larson rallies, thrills for second-place finish

first_imgHarvick keyed his radio to shoulder the blame for their contact, a stance he reiterated in post-race interviews on pit road. Larson’s radio was slightly more colorful in the initial aftermath, but having Harvick’s messaged relayed to him helped soothe any potential ill will.RELATED: Harvick: ‘Just my fault back there’“I think he came down to side-draft me maybe and just got on my right-rear,” Larson said. “Just the one replay I saw, it looked like it just spun him to the right. I’m glad that he’s not mad at me because I didn’t think I did anything wrong at the time, so it’s good that he doesn’t feel that way either.”Larson’s next round of misfortune came on Lap 125 during the intermission after Stage 2. Instead of restarting seventh for the final stage, an additional pit stop to cure a wheel vibration knocked him back to 28th, setting the table for another charge through the field.WATCH: See the wreck unfoldLarson chalked both setbacks up as “a lot of weird issues,” but Chad Johnston — his crew chief on the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet team — said that the earlier trouble was the more irksome of the two.“For passing as many cars as we did, it’s just frustrating to get wrecked 30 laps into a race for no reason,” Johnston said. “That’s the most frustrating part to me. I don’t know why we were raced that hard 30 laps in and if it was the other way around, I’m sure that he wouldn’t be happy about it either. But we need to clean up our issues on pit road if we’re going to have a shot to win ’em, but guys are working hard and we’ll get it figured out. It’s new for everybody.  “We’ve just got to find our rhythm in what we need to do to do our jobs and go from there. But the car’s got speed, so that’s good.” FONTANA, Calif. — Kevin Harvick’s winning string ended at three with an early Sunday thud at Auto Club Speedway, but a slightly more obscure streak belonging to Kyle Larson also fell — a victorious four-race stretch at NASCAR’s 2-mile tracks.Larson settled for the next best thing in Sunday’s Auto Club 400, rallying twice from deep in the pack to finish a season-best second place behind a dominant Martin Truex Jr. He surged back after an early collision with Harvick in the 37th lap, then made an extra pit stop before the final stage began for a vibration, forcing him to make a methodical comeback to the runner-up spot.“Would have liked to be one spot better, but we couldn’t even see Martin,” Larson said, making a nod to the sizable 11.685-second margin of victory. “Got to be a little bit better. All in all, a good day. We fought hard. That’s all you can ask for.”RELATED: Truex sweeps stages | Celebs, great racing at Auto ClubHarvick and Larson had already been engaged in a back-and-forth contest for third place over the course of multiple laps when their battle escalated into a coming-together of Californians. Coming off the 2-mile track’s second turn, Harvick fought for control and bobbled, then veered left into the side of Larson’s No. 42.Harvick’s car ricocheted off the outside retaining wall then narrowly avoided the inside barrier, scraping away with significant damage. After repairs, he limped to a 35th-place result, nine laps down. Larson’s crew made their own mending work in an extended stop, dropping him to 20th in the running order.last_img read more

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