Crash.Net NASCAR News
Johnson Maintains Points Lead
20 April 2010
Ft. Worth - Four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, maintains the point standing's lead with a runner-up finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Johnson led four times for a total of 39 laps and recovered from a green flag pit stop for a flat front left tire to storm back to second during the final laps of the 334-lap rain delayed Samsung Mobile 500.
Team Chevy drivers claimed four of the top-10 finishing positions. Mark Martin, No. 5 Hendrickcars.com/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, finished sixth and jumped to 10th in the standings following the eighth race of the season.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, finished seventh and continues to hold fourth in points.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, came home in the eighth finishing position after leading seven times for 46 laps. Junior jumped three places to seventh in the standings.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, led once for 10 laps but ultimately finished 12th. He sits eighth in the standings.
A nine car wreck on lap 319 sidelined pole sitter Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet. The two-time NSCS champion finished 32nd after leading five times for 74 laps. The disappointing finish dropped Stewart to 13th in points.
Four-time champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Special Forces Chevrolet, was also caught up in the multi-car melee after leading the most laps in the race, six-times for 124 laps. Gordon remains fifth in the point standings.
The race was won by Denny Hamlin (Toyota). Kyle Busch (Toyota), Kurt Busch (Dodge) and Kasey Kahne (Ford) completed the top-five finishers.
The series moves to Talladega Superspeedway for the April 25th running of the Aaron's 499.
ADDITIONAL DRIVER COMMENT:
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH:
"We battled all day today. Our Shell-Pennzoil Chevy was hitting the ground for most of the race, and that really hurt us. It affected all of our adjustments and made the car very inconsistent.
"My spotter did a great job today when we avoided that huge wreck on the frontstretch. We dodged a bullet and salvaged a solid finish. Those are the things that show me that our team has matured. We need to work on our cars a little more, but we can get there. I am proud of our guys."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET POST RACE TRANSCRIPT – FINISHED 2ND:
THE MODERATOR: We're joined in the infield media center by today's second place finisher, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson. Tell us about your run.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, we got to the end there, and I was really excited being on four tires. Being on the inside lane, I thought that we were going to be in a really good position. I really couldn't get going. I lost some positions.
And I tried to run on the outside. I had a lot of luck up top all day. As I went to the top, the splitter started dragging really bad. I jumped over the cushion and almost caught the wall in one and two and lost a couple of spots.
I was really trying to fight my way back or maintain it at that point. Then once the tire pressures came up, the car came to life, it didn't drag the ground, and I started getting guys one a lap, two a lap. Maybe one more lap and I think I could have been alongside the 11 and had a victory today.
But all in all great performance. Wish we could have won here in Texas. Love that cowboy hat. Would love to have it on my head. But very solid performance for us.
Q. Talk about the battle with your teammate Jeff Gordon today. It was a great back and forth, some real tremendous racing here at TMS. It's kind of obvious how it feels. Second year in a row, two car lengths behind victory, and you were the strongest car at the very end here. Talk about how that feels and how you process that?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I forgot about coming so close last year as well. I know we've got a good package here. I think we've been running here well. Took our organization a while to figure on out this racetrack. Then once we got it, things took off and we've been pretty competitive.
So excited about coming back in the fall. I think we'll be a little smarter yet, a little more competitive throughout the entire race, and complete some more laps and hopefully win.
Today was a tough race. I think in general we were trying to get accustomed to the spoiler. It seemed to be tougher to pass in some situations. I think the wake of air was larger and more turbulent. You really had to take a lot of risks to get close to someone.
But I think another couple races on these big tracks, we'll work on the set ups some more and improve the balance of the car in traffic. Also not a lot to complain about for today. Just one more spot better would have been an awesome day.
Q. During one part of the race even before half distance, Jeff, you, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were just one, two, and three. How identical was the set up of your cars?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: You know, we're all kind of it's hard to be too far apart in today's world with the rules that NASCAR has, the C.O.T. car, and all that there is. It's really tough to be much different.
With that in mind, we all have different styles and our cars are different with the little things that we can adjust on. So I'd say in general, my car's closer to Mark's than anyone's, but we're still kind of off on our own island.
I know that Jeff had something much different this time coming back and it that seemed to work really well for him. Something we'll have to look at to see if there is anything in there that the 48 car could use.
The 88, I don't know whose set up they put in, because they were in qualifying trim on Friday. I know Junior was a little concerned with no race trim and not knowing where the balance of his car was going to be, and they didn't know what set up really they were going to put in it when the race was called on Saturday. So I'm not sure where those guys ended up, but it was a good performance for each of us.
Q. Jeff said that he was a little bit disappointed with the way you raced him, and I know from hearing your TV interviews it sounded like you weren't too happy with the way he raced you. Can you address what happened before this race, and how you guys kind of settle things I suppose?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, it's going to happen in racing. Doesn't matter if it's teammates or not. There are just times where you're irritated by racing with other guys.
You know, Jeff and I have been racing hard against each other for wins for a long time. We've had this issue in the past, so I really don't see it being a big deal.
I guess he got out and said he was disappointed. So since I have my chance I can equally say I was pretty disappointed with him today. We'll sit down and get it talked out.
In general, we've been through this before, like I said. It's really good that we have open communication that we do at Hendrick, through the good times and the bad. It's made us a stronger team.
So don't get the headline writers out saying trouble at HMS, because it's really no big deal. And we all know from scanning during the race, there are a lot of colorful things said on that racetrack about teammates and other drivers and all that kind of stuff. So to have the word disappointed used from Jeff and myself I don't think it is a very big deal.
Q. At that moment when your two cars made contact, how badly did it affect your car? How were Chad and the guys able to fix it? And at the instant it occurred, what was your reaction?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, we were lucky that where we made contact it didn't push the front fender down on the tire. It appears though that it did push that body work in and cut our left front down, which is why we had that problem and had to pit early. So it definitely hurt me having the contact with the 24.
I'm just thankful when we got together that we weren't both spinning down the front stretch and wadded up. I was thankful he didn't spin me out further in the corner. He was just on my bumper, pushing me through the center of the turn. It was like, man, I really can't go anywhere if you're there, pushing me. If you'd just get off my ass and let me get control of my car, I can accelerate (laughing). That's as you come off the corner and collide, and off we go from there.
Q. A lot of people I think were maybe ready to write off Denny Hamlin after the knee surgery as far as being a championship contender. He was the guy viewed as maybe the main threat to you coming into this year. Did you write him off? Did today's win by him prove something to you that maybe he's still in it?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, naturally, you would think it would take some time to heal. I don't know much about the injury and the rehab and everything that goes with it. But if you can just drive with your right foot on a big track like this, I think there are a lot of right footed drivers. I'm not sure what type of style he has. But the bigger the track, I think the easier it is to adjust and adapt as a driver with an injury, especially with your left leg.
Denny and that team, man, they've been the real deal for a long time. It doesn't surprise me that they're going fast. It would have been a surprise at Richmond if he would have won the race with the injury that he had, because there it is really difficult with the braking and using the left leg and all of that.
They're a great race team. They're showing it. So we've been focused on them since the season has started and even through a large part of last year.