WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.— Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was fast in race trim during Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice sessions, but the six-time champion wasn’t pleased with the way the car ran in qualifying setup.
Accordingly, crew chief Chad Knaus decided to borrow the setup on teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevy for Saturday’s time trials.
“It’s tough,” Johnson said of the radical change in qualifying packages. “Especially when the gear ratios change like they did. I had a completely different set of gears to choose from, and shift points, and trying to get all that right.
“And knowing I was only going to run two laps today, it’s not the easiest thing. Fortunately, I’ve run enough laps, especially at this point in my career here that I feel like I can get it close—and I did on that first run.”
Johnson qualified third for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen, behind only teammate Jeff Gordon and Marcos Ambrose.