Bad news for rivals

LONG POND, PA - JUNE 06:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 6, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

LONG POND, PA – JUNE 06: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 6, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

LONG POND, Pennsylvania. – Jimmie Johnson, fifth-fastest in Friday’s first practice, says that when his team is hitting on all cylinders, it tends to stay that way.

“Usually when we’re hot it carries from track to track and we certainly hope we can keep it rolling,” said Johnson, fresh off his consecutive victories at Charlotte and Dover.”

Johnson says that crew chief Chad Knaus isn’t about to back off.

“This is Chad’s favorite race track,” Johnson said. “He loves the challenge here, trying to figure out how to get the car to go down those long straightaways, then through three different corners.”

Johnson has NASCAR’s best driver rating at Pocono (109.3) but Denny Hamlin is right behind (109.1), followed by Kurt Busch (104.7) and Jeff Gordon (101.1).

Hamlin, with four victories at Pocono, came into the weekend with the best average starting position among active drivers (6.5) and had led 23 percent of laps in the last 16 races at Pocono.

Gordon is the all-time leader with six victories at the Tricky Triangle. He owns 29 top-10 finishes in 42 career starts.

Hamlin won the pole Friday, Johnson will roll off 20th, and put the blame on his qualifying run squarely on himself.

“The driver blew Turn 2,” Johnson said.  “I just got too greedy down in two and lost the nose in corner exit. I knew it killed the lap.  Sure enough when I came back around it was only good enough for 20th.  I feel bad for my guys, but this one is one me.”

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