Jimmie Johnson Ain’t Wastin’ Time No MorePress Release
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 8, 2012) – In 1973, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International played host to some guests most would not expect at the home of the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix. During the last weekend of July, the racetrack hosted Summer Jam, a concert event featuring rock bands the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band. The event reportedly drew 600,000 fans over the course of the weekend. In 2011, nearly four decades later, the track hosted the rock band Phish, which much like the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band, is known for its improvisational jams and rabid fan base.
The track gets back to its more traditional hosting duties this weekend, albeit involving another rabid fan base, when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits The Glen for the 30th time in Sprint Cup history with 43 “bands” entertaining the fans assembled around the 2.45-mile, 11-turn circuit. Jimmie Johnson is making his 11th visit with the series. It has been a somewhat frustrating experience for Johnson over those years, however. The Glen is one of five tracks on the circuit where Johnson has failed to win. Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Homestead-Miami Speedway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the others.
Despite the absence of Sprint Cup victories at The Glen, Johnson enjoys road-course racing. He participated in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race at The Glen in 2010 with Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing, when the team of Johnson, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty finished sixth. He also came close to victory in the Nationwide Series at The Glen, finishing second in 2011 while running for teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. His best Sprint Cup finish is third in 2007.
Johnson knows a Sprint Cup victory at The Glen might, at the very least, take away some of the attention from one of his most infamous moments at the track. While running the Nationwide Series race in 2000, Johnson lost his brakes on a high-speed section of the track, ventured off-course and careened into the wall. Fortunately, the track had installed SAFER Barriers unbeknownst to Johnson. Thus, the image of him standing on top of his car, after the accident, arms raised in triumph, is one that has captivated fans in the years since.
Safe to say it’s been an unusual relationship for Johnson at the New York track. But the five-time Sprint Cup champion “ain’t wastin’ time no more, ’cause time goes by like pouring rain and much faster things,” as the Allman Brothers sing, and Johnson hopes his Lowe’s Chevrolet is the fastest around the famous turns and esses of the racetrack during Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355k at The Glen.
Johnson’s Watkins Glen Sprint Cup Race Notes of Interest:
- · One pole (2009).
- · Three top-five finishes (30 percent) and five top-10s (50 percent) in 10 starts.
- · One DNF (2004).
- · Average finish of 14.2.
- · Completed 837 of 904 laps (92.6 percent) and led 11.
- · Sprint Cup’s second-best with 504 laps in the top-15 (79.5 percent)
- · Sprint Cup’s fifth-best driver rating (100.7 average of a possible 150 points).
- · In 21 road-course races, Johnson has one win (Sonoma, Calif., 2010), seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He has led 96 of 2,047 laps and finished on the lead lap 18 times.
- · Leads all drivers this season with 956 of a possible 5,746 laps led (16.64 percent). Greg Biffle is second with 566 laps led (9.85 percent).
- · Johnson has raced four times at the track in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. His highest finish was second in 2011. He finished 43rd in 2000, 21st in 2001 and 29th after running out of gas in 2008.
- · Watkins Glen is one of five tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit were Johnson has failed to win. Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Homestead-Miami Speedway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the others.
- · Johnson remained fourth in the driver standings after his 14th-place finish at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway last Sunday. He did cut into the previous week’s 27-point deficit, now sitting eight points out of first and two points out of third after starting the season at a career-tying low of 37th at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
News and Notes – Watkins Glen:
- · Johnson will pilot the No. 48 Lowe’s Cortez Siler Chevrolet at Watkins Glen.
Ø Continuing the racing-stripe-themed car schemes for Team Lowe’s Racing this year, Johnson will drive another specially designed car at Watkins Glen. Cortez Silver will be the primary color on the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet with black racing stripes. The color was used by General Motors on its Chevrolet vehicles for the model years 1969 and 1970. The color was available on every model of passenger car built by Chevrolet during those years.
§ Johnson drove the Lowe’s Mountain Green Chevy at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City in April and theLowe’s Dover White Chevy at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in June. All colors in the series were once featured on Chevrolets during various model years.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, Driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Cortez Silver Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports:
You’ve qualified first at Watkins Glen but you haven’t finished well the last three years. What’s the reason? And what are your thoughts about it?
“The thing that gets me at The Glen so much is really fuel mileage. My driving style requires us to stop usually an additional time and I don’t know how to run a fast enough pace and save fuel at the same time there. It really gets me. I think back to a Nationwide race where I was driving Junior’s (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) car and ran out (of fuel) with a few laps to go. It just happens to me there more than really anywhere. So, I’m hopeful that the EFI (electronic fuel injection) and the functionality of the EFI will help me there. We’re working hard. We tested to get ready for The Glen. So, we’re putting in the whole effort. Hopefully, I can be nice on the fuel mileage.”
Do you think road-course races are important?
“I definitely do. We spend time testing for these events. There is a lot that goes into getting the setup right. It’s not what we typically do each week. There aren’t a lot of places to pass. Guys block to maintain track position. It’s just different. Even the way we approach the setup is different. Instead of concentrating on making the car turn left from that standpoint, at a road course it’s more of an even balance as opposed to favoring one corner. I think road courses are very important and I enjoy running on them, especially since I finally was able to win one. It’s been a goal of mine to win at Watkins Glen. Hopefully, we will be able to do that this weekend.”
What are some of the things you do differently going into a road-course race than maybe an oval race?
“Well, a road-course race is to me a lot of visual things you need to be focused on. On an oval, you’re more concerned about just keeping your momentum up in the car. It’s a bit line-specific on some tracks. We can run from the white line to the wall at the majority of the racetracks. When you go to a road course, there really is a specific line through sections of the track. Sometimes you need to sacrifice a little speed in some areas to set you up for something two or three turns down the road. The flow of that, the line, really, where you look in the visual aspect to road-course racing, is big. I try to remind myself of that. Running on ovals all the time, you develop some bad habits and don’t use your eyes as you need to on a road course. That’s the thing I tell myself from the first practice session on – use my eyes, from my braking point, turning point, apex, tracking point.”
Source: True Speed Communication for Team Lowe’s Racing, Press Release
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