Rhythm method

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Cortez Silver Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 11, 2012 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Cortez Silver Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 11, 2012 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — The hardest thing about road course qualifying, says Jimmie Johnson, is jumping in the car after a long break and trying to put down one perfect lap.

Unlike the NASCAR Nationwide Series, which qualifies in groups of six at road courses, with a chance to post a strong time over several laps, the Cup cars are one and done.

“It’s more about getting out of rhythm,” said Johnson, who qualified third for Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen. “(In) the Nationwide Series, you get a couple of shots at it, and that’s a nice way to find your rhythm, and it’s really good for the Nationwide Series to qualify that way. A lot of the drivers don’t have a lot of road course experience in this style of race car.

“At the Cup level, you don’t get that luxury. To me, it’s all about rhythm. It’s a problem that I have at Martinsville (a .526-mile oval). I’m such a rhythm driver that Martinsville qualifying gets me, because we sit on ice for a couple of hours and then go back out to run — and I miss it. But road-course-wise, I’ve been doing a better job.”

So much so, in fact, that Johnson wouldn’t like to see the Nationwide qualifying format at road courses adopted for Sprint Cup.

“From a selfish standpoint, I’m finally good at this style,” he said. “I see a lot of guys making mistakes, so I guess I’m content with it being like it is. But a couple of years ago, I would have lobbied for the other way.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.