AVONDALE, Ariz. — Though he finished fourth in a car he felt was capable of winning Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Jimmie Johnson would have to characterize the second race of 2012 as a positive.
For one thing, Johnson can point to his two-race total of 18 points. Positive 18 points. After a 42nd-place finish in Monday night’s Daytona 500 and a 25-point penalty for unapproved “C” Posts on his No. 48 Chevrolet, Johnson came to Phoenix with a minus-23 point total.
Now he’s in the black. Johnson led 55 laps at the one-mile track, but an unplanned pit stop under caution on Lap 134 because of a loose lug nut cost him track position. Johnson restarted 24th on Lap 141 and worked his way to fourth by the end of the race, but he had mixed feelings about the result.
“We’ll take it,” Johnson said after the race. “I’m not really satisfied. I really felt like we had a car to win the race with. Unfortunately things didn’t work out there. We had a little hiccup early in the race, but we still rebounded back and got a very strong finish.
“So I’m proud of the fight this team has and the racecar we brought to the track, and I passed a lot of racecars on a track that’s tough to pass and still got back to fourth.”