Friday, September 28, 2012

Johnson Confident Entering Dover Weekend

Johnson knows how to win at Dover
Jimmie Johnson’s track record at Dover International Speedway is enough to inspire awe, or confidence. 

In 21 career Sprint Cup Series starts at the Monster Mile, Johnson has a record-tying seven wins – joining Richard Petty and Bobby Allison at the top of the all-time win list – along with 10 Top-5 and 15 Top-10 finishes. With an average finish of 8.9, he easily owns the best Dover record among active drivers, making him a prohibitive favorite to expand his single-digit championship point lead with another victory Sunday. 

“We’re definitely excited to be here at this race track,” admitted Johnson today. “The stats are very good for myself and this team here. It’s a track that I’ve enjoyed racing at from the very first lap here in an ASA car. So, I’m glad to be here.” 

Surprisingly, Johnson pointed to his off-road background as a key to his Dover success. 

“Out of all the oval tracks we race on, this one is most similar to my off-road background,” he said. “The drop-off into the corner, the way the rubber lays down and (the way) you have to select a different line through the turn reminds me of dirt racing. You climb back up that hill and jump onto the straightaway and then go do it again and again and again. I think that’s really where things work best for me.” 

He admitted, however, that Dover’s rapid changes can be difficult to keep up with.

“What’s confusing is that this track does change quite a bit,” said Johnson. “With the tire that we’ve had for the last couple of years, it lays a lot of rubber down. And the way your car handles on a clean track during practice is far different than what you have in the race. You really have to fall back on experience and keep an open mind about the new pieces or new thoughts you bring to your set-up. They might not work on a clean track, but the race is really different, especially deep in a run when the right-side rubber lays down.” 

While expressing happiness with his strong start to the 2012 Chase, the five-time Sprint Cup Series champion acknowledged that there is still work to be done. 

 “I’m very happy with the start that we’ve had,” said Johnson. “Chicago went really well for us, and last week at Loudon, to run second there was a strong showing as well. So, things are working well. Clearly, there are eight more races to go and we’ll just keep working hard and see what we can do.”

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