Starting 14th no problem for Johnson

DOVER, DE - MAY 29: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet, prepares his helmet in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on May 29, 2015 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
DOVER, DE - MAY 29:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet, prepares his helmet in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on May 29, 2015 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
DOVER, DE – MAY 29: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet, prepares his helmet in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on May 29, 2015 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

DOVER, Del. – Qualifying hasn’t been Jimmie Johnson’s strong suit this season, but race trim is a different matter for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team.

Through the first 12 races of the season, the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has recorded an average starting position of 16.1—lackluster to say the least. On the other hand, Johnson has also claimed a series-best three victories and is guaranteed a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

So even though the 48 failed to advance to the final round of Friday’s knockout qualifying and will start 14th in Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks, Johnson isn’t worried, especially since he’s racing at a track where he’s already won nine times.

“I think, in a sense, we didn’t make the changes we needed to, or thought we needed to change because the car had so much speed in that first practice session (on Friday),” Johnson said of his effort during time trials. “But it’s a totally different race track from then. We tried to plan ahead and made some small changes, but it wasn’t enough. It is so black and so little grip compared to what we had this morning.

“So, we’ll get smarter. We’ll learn. We’ll put this in our notes for the next trip back here on this tire combination and get smarter from it. But this Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet is really fast. We showed that this morning. We qualified decent. And we’ve won from much further back than from 14th this year, so I’m not worried about that at all.”

SHORT STROKES

Coors Light Pole winner Denny Hamlin demonstrated on Saturday that his No. 11 Toyota was fast in race trim, too. Hamlin topped the speed charts in both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice sessions…

In fact, all four Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas were quick in Happy Hour. Carl Edwards was second behind Hamlin, and the Camrys of Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch were fourth and fifth, respectively. The only car able to break up the JGR monopoly in final practice was the Chevrolet of Paul Menard, who was third on the speed chart.

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.