Jimmie Johnson encouraged despite pit road snafu

Jimmie Johnson led 37 laps at Michigan Sunday (Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson led 37 laps at Michigan Sunday (Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Despite a pit road problem that ruined his winning chances, Jimmie Johnson was surprisingly chipper after his sixth-place run in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan Speedway.

Johnson led 37 laps, four fewer than race winner Kyle Larson, but the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion lost 10 seconds on pit road when his second can of fuel failed to engage properly with the intake during a green-flag stop from the lead on Lap 108 of 200.

Under the fourth and final caution on Lap 187, Johnson brought his No. 48 Chevrolet to pit road for tires and restarted eighth on Lap 192. Though he gained only two positions before the finish, Johnson was delighted with the speed in his car.

He also took solace from teammate Chase Elliott’s second-place finish.

“Yeah, just a very good day for all of Hendrick Motorsports,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, one of our cars didn’t win today. We had an issue with some fueling on pit road that dropped us back. Then I thought I had a right-rear tire going down.

“To rally back and end up sixth is good. We’re working hard, and it’s nice to see the speed showing. There’s been a lot of hard work for months and months and months going into this. We didn’t see the consistency in speed that we wanted (earlier in the season), but this weekend we’ve had it from day one until now. It’s going in the right direction.”

Sprint Cup teams at Michigan ran a lower-downforce competition package this week, but Johnson believes the speed his team found at Michigan will carry over with the current 2016 rules.

“This was the 2017 package, or the proposed 2017 package, so we will see more next weekend in Darlington, although, Darlington is such a unique race track on its own,” he said. “We feel like we’re doing the right things to get speed in our cars, and fortunately we still have a few months before we have to race for a championship at Homestead.”

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