Tag:Jimmie Johnson
Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 3:10 pm

Johnson unsure of Daytona strategy

By Pete Pistone

  Jimmie Johnson, Driver Of The #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, Joey Logano, Driver Of The #20 The Home Depot Toyota, And Greg
(Johnson believes the No. 48 Chevrolet will be in both pack draft and tandem situations in the Daytona 500)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson is ready to begin his quest to climb back on top the Sprint Cup Series mountain but he’s not sure what to expect in the first race of the season.

Johnson knows pack racing will be back in play for Sunday’s Daytona 500 but doesn’t believe we’ve seen the end of tandem drafting either.

He’s been intently watching the races that have gone on during Speedweeks to try and gauge how Sunday’s 500 may play out.

“It’s been fun,” Johnson said Saturday at Daytona. “When I’m watching points races like I watched the Truck race last night.  You can see the range of emotions of what happens.  We will have that same type of thing in our race.

“The Shootout is fun because there aren’t any points and you can just have at it.  But, when the points are on the line the pack racing can be frustrating.  The tandem racing can be frustrating; I think it is plate racing.  We are at a plate track and tomorrow afternoon throughout the race you will see a lot of emotions that aren’t excited about plate racing.  Fans love it, it puts on a great show and that is what you have to do to win the Daytona 500.”

While his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. has publicly dismissed the idea of hanging back in the field for most of the race before hooking up with Johnson in a two-car draft to the front, the five-time champion won’t completely rule out that strategy.

“That chance is there,” Johnson said.  “The one thing about this package is that track position is important from a handling perspective and a cooling perspective.  I think on any restart you will see a lot of activity just trying to get track position and be in the right scenario for those reasons.

“Once we settle into a groove I would expect a lot of patience out of people.  We know that you can’t win the race in the first 499 miles.  That element could be there.  The one thing that does change that is the deeper in the pack you are the easier your car is going to overheat.  It can go either way I just don’t know at this time what to really expect.”

Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 22, 2012 2:05 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 3:01 pm

Johnson faces early challenge in Daytona

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Jimmie Johnson's season didn't start exactly as he had hoped when his car failed pre-inspection last week for the Daytona 500.

NASCAR confiscated the C-Posts of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet in that inspection process and speculation is a heavy fine and possible suspension for crew chief Chad Knaus awaits after this weekend's Daytona 500.

The five-time champion has faced this situation before when Knaus was suspended for violations during Speedweeks of the 2006 season and overcame that adversity to actually win the Daytona 500 with interim crew chief Darian Grubb as the helm.

But he realizes the turn of events has already presented a challenge in his quest for a sixth championship and second 500 win.

It is not good for any team that goes through it," Johnson said Thursday at Daytona. "It certainly puts a tough wrinkle on things, but at this point I would be purely speculating. I am hopeful and want to be optimistic that wouldn’t be the case, but I don’t have any more news. So, we are going to have to wait until Tuesday to see where things shake out.”

Johnson has spent the off-season talking about how motivated he is to return to the top of the Sprint Cup point standings at season's end and is trying to turn this latest obstacle into another positive by trying to take Knaus to victory lane for the first time at Daytona.

“There is definitely a piece of me that wants to have that Victory Lane photo with him," he said. "He was certainly a huge part of us winning in 2006, but I want him to have the photo to put on his desk that he was there in Victory Lane. It adds a small percentage to it. Nothing can dilute or change my mindset and desire to try to win the 500. That is pinned already. It would be a nice perk though, to do it for that reason.” 

Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:00 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 9:28 pm

Jimmie Johnson's car fails inspection

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The 2012 season has not started well for Jimmie Johnson.

The No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet failed pre-race inspection for this year's Daytona 500 as NASCAR cited unapproved modifications to the C-Post area of the car.

The sanctioning body cut off and confiscated the sheet metal in question and immediately put the pieces on display behind the NASCAR hauler as is customary.

"We noticed they had modifications to that area that is not permitted," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharpsaid. "We cut off the C-post and we confiscated the C-post. We're allowing them to fix it. And when we get back home (to NASCAR's Research & Development Center), we'll look at it again and see if there needs to be anything further."

The infractions were found on both side of the car on the C-Post, which is a designated area measured between the roof and quarterpanel. 

“It was an obvious modification that the template inspectors picked up on,” said Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby. “We did some additional inspections and found that they were too far out of tolerance to fix.”

Hendrick Motorsports is sending a new piece from its North Carolina headquarters to Daytona and the 48 car will be inspected again on Saturday.

NASCAR will not announce any further penalties or action until after the Daytona 500.

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: February 16, 2012 3:39 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 6:02 pm

Jimmie Johnson focused on championship return

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Johnson is determined to bring the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet back to title contention)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Jimmie Johnson's title run coming to an end last season definitely registered with the five-time Sprint Cup champion.

Johnson is still smarting from what he considers a disappointing effort in 2011 that saw his impressive streak of championships run out.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver says he learned a lot from the effort of a year ago and has spent the off-season figuring out how to come back even stronger.

“I didn’t realize that over the five years or six years that we didn’t change as much maybe as we needed to and evolve," Johnson said during Thursday's Daytona Media Day.  "It’s tough to leave a successful road map and (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and the team and I have been good at reinventing ourselves each year.  But until the streak was broken looking back at this off season what we have been through and trying to rebuild the team and make sure we are looking at everything we can, we have a different depth.  I’m focusing on my interaction with the team, how I provide information with the team, what information I’m looking at, there are a lot of things I haven’t done in the past and I felt like I was one of the most in depth drivers out there.

"I’m trying to even take that steps further now, so because of the loss we have been able to dig deeper and get away from the road map we’ve built and challenge ourselves more. At the same time the garage area has been extremely focused on everything the No. 48 car has done over the last six years, so maybe years three or four a lot of guys came out direction and really paid attention to what we were doing and they caught us and we got beat.  We have to reinvent ourselves in some ways this year and we are ready for it.”   

Johnson believes starting the year on a positive note will go a long way in helping re-establish himself as a title contender this season. However he also understands the difference between Speedweeks, the Daytona 500 and then the rest of the grueling season so is not putting too much pressure on himself or the team.

But of course Johnson will still be gunning hard for a win a week from Sunday.

“Yeah, it’s important, I look at the Daytona 500 as we are only here to win the race if we finish fifth, sure the points are nice, but I like a lot of others will do anything to win this race even if it means a last lap crash and you finish 40th," said Johnson. "Once we get out of this race, then a quick start, I think means a lot.  It reflects on the off season and what the teams have done there.

"Anytime you can get points in your back pocket and start separating yourself from tenth or win a race or two to fix that wild card scenario and try to lock yourself in.  It makes you sleep better.  Nobody likes to go to Richmond stressing about that race. That mindset starts at Phoenix and you really start thinking about things then.  The [Daytona] 500 it is the biggest race we have so you’re going to do anything and everything you can to win it.” 

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:24 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 2:30 pm

Hopes high at Hendrick Motorsports

By Pete Pistone

  Rick Hendrick(R), Owner Of Hendrick Motorsports, And Jimmie Johnson, Driver Of The #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet,
(Johnson is hungry to bring Hendrick another Sprint Cup Series championship in 2012 - Getty Images)

Jack Roush
put his entire stable of then five Sprint Cup Series drivers into the 2005 Chase field. 

NASCAR has since forced team owners to dial back to a four-car operation, but Rick Hendrick believes there’s no reason why his whole fleet can’t make this year’s playoffs. 

Optimism always runs high at this time of the season as organizations prepare for the upcoming campaign. But Hendrick is unusually pumped up about the prospects for 2012 and what the quartet of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and newcomer Kasey Kahne can accomplish. 

I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t have all four cars in the Chase and I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t win the championship,” Hendrick said. “I can’t remember having four teams this solid, this strong, at the beginning of the year. 

“I think we’re as prepared as we’ve ever been and if we don’t get it, it's going to be our fault.” 

After a season that saw Johnson’s five year reign as Sprint Cup Series champ come to a halt, the entire Hendrick group seems to be re-energized to put the team back on top again in 2012. 

Hendrick’s positive outlook that the goal can be accomplished in due in large part to the elimination of some unknown quantities that lingered heading into the 2011 effort. 

"Looking at last year, I didn't know how Dale and (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) were going to work,” Hendrick said. “I didn't know how Jeff and (crew chief Alan (Gustafson) were going to work. I thought they would be good, and they were much better than I anticipated. 

"I had Mark (Martin), knowing it was his last year. I had Kasey waiting to come. I didn't know if we were going to get (crew chief) Kenny (Francis), and then I get Kenny and their engineer and Kasey, and they are here and they're fitting in like they've been here forever. Then all of the sudden, I know, I've got a better 88 team. I've got a better 24 team. I've got a pissed-off 48 team, and I've got a something-to-prove 5 team with a guy who had one of the best Chases of anybody. So that gives me the confidence that, if we don't blow it up, we're going to be good." 

Johnson has made no bones about the fact that he’s using last year’s result as motivation for the coming season. The anger that came from not having his name engraved on the Sprint Cup trophy for the first time in five seasons is pushing Johnson hard at the dawn of a new year. 

“Yeah, and we're pissed off at ourselves," said Johnson. "There could be a lot of good coming from this." 

Johnson sees it as a time to learn from mistakes and in a way re-invent himself as a driver. 

“Through losing the championship last year, I think I can strip some layers down and figure out how to do things differently,” he said. 

“There’s a lot that I’ve thought about and once I get into the season I’ll know more and really be able to work through those things,” Johnson continued. “But I feel like over the five years of winning championships, there are certain things, even as basic as the way I approach a weekend and the notes I take and what I do from a driver’s standpoint, that’s all been well documented. Every driver does it now. Were they doing it then? No.

“I need to find new ways to do a better job as the driver of the 48 car and that’s what this year is about for me. That’s what this offseason was about for me. Really, the first half of the season is going to be about understanding how I can do my job better.” 

Earnhardt thinks he and the entire No. 88 team can also do better. Although they made tremendous improvements last season in a performance that saw Earnhardt make the Chase and ultimately finish seventh in the final standings, the sport’s Most Popular Driver sees even more success in 2012. 

“We definitely took a step in the right direction with the changes we made last year,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I don’t know what our potential is past that, but we’re going to work hard to see if we can find it and find more and be more competitive. We were close to winning a few races and hadn’t had that in a long time.

“Working with Steve, he gave me the opportunity, whether it was our strong performance or his strategy, one way or another, he’s given me the chance I didn’t have. I felt closer to winning than I felt before.” 

Gordon was able to win and once he broke the winless drought he was engulfed in the previous season, the four-time champion showed several flashes of brilliance throughout the schedule. 

He also brings a great deal of confidence into 2012 after last season’s effort and shares his employer’s optimism about the entire organization. 

However with that view there does come a bit of stress. 

“I agree with Rick, it’s the strongest combination we’ve ever had coming into a season, and when you see that, it gives you some pretty high expectations and puts the pressure on,” Gordon said. 

Kahne and Francis don’t appear to be feeling any pressure as the new kids in the house. The duo has already made it clear they are quite at home at Hendrick turning in a very impressive Daytona testing performance last month. 

Kahne knows there will be growing pains but believes he is in the best position of his Sprint Cup career to excel.

“It definitely takes time because it's all different,” Kahne said. “The way they build the parts and pieces and the way that feels to me and the way I relay that to Kenny, that's something that takes time, and hopefully it doesn't take us too long. 

“The biggest thing is the stability and knowing that I have four years here where I just need to make the best out of it” I need to put all the effort that I have into it. It could be my best four years ever.” 

Hendrick has ten Sprint Cup championship trophies in his possession and the way he sees it not getting number eleven last season may actually have been a good thing overall.

“Getting beat sometimes is not a bad thing,” he said. “If you’re a very competitive company, you got to know you’ve got to work a lot harder to get back to where you were. So we’re motivated.” 

That could be bad news for the rest of the Sprint Cup garage area.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @PPistone on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed    

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: January 13, 2012 6:07 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 6:08 pm

Friday Daytona media session highlights

By Pete Pistone

Several drivers and NASCAR officials spent time answering reporters' questions during Friday's second day of NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona Internaitonal Speedway. Here are some of the highlights from day two of the test:


"I had a question earlier today: 'Was this something you demanded of Kenny Francis be your crew chief?' It really wasn't," Kahne said. "When I was talking to Mr. Hendrick – when we were getting the deal done – I told him, 'Man, Kenny is really good. He should be part of this place. It would be great if he was my crew chief.'

"And they're like, 'Yeah, we're going to look at it. We're going to figure it out.' And from there it was all them wanting Kenny Francis."


“He’s been texting and emailing so there still is that communication taking place. We’ve got a very competent race team and everybody is following the test plan and we’re going through the motions. Truthfully, a lot of work for this test was done at the shop, getting prepared and now we’re just following the test plan.”

“It’s worked out well for Chad to take some time for himself. I’m really happy that he has decided to do this. As we all know, he doesn’t give himself much personal time. I’ve been on a similar trip to the one he’s on now and know how special it was to Chani and I. I can’t wait to hear stories when he gets back, what he goes through.”


“I've had a great off‑season. Had the time of my life with Hendrick Motorsports and made friends for life there. But this is a new challenge from an organization standpoint, a lot of new faces, and then a lot of guys I've worked with before. I couldn't believe it when I walked through the shop the first time. You can't believe how many people I've worked with before that are at MWR now."

“So it's just exactly where I want to be in life right now. I'm really excited, thrilled to have a company like Aaron's behind us, huge supporter of NASCAR racing, and I think it's going to be fun, the things that we're going to do, Michael and I are going to do. I'm expecting to do a lot of smiling this year.”


"I said, 'Where's your beer cooler around here?' We went and started chit-chatting for the rest of the day about fun stories. That's what this is going to be about for me in 2012." 


"The proof in the pudding, the outcome, will be the Daytona 500. We have not seen anything that we dislike, but we know there’s other things that we’d like to see more of. The progress of the weekend, we’re in the middle of it right now. The progress of the weekend is going in the right direction.”

“Our goal and our responsibility is to try to make decisions so that the racing is as good as everybody expects it to be or better during the Daytona 500. That's the one variable that all the teams, once they get through doing everything they think they can accomplish and get done [here], all of them know [to] let's wait and see what NASCAR does. We have a reputation for [changing things], but it's all in the best interest of having the best racing on the race track that we can deliver.”


More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: January 13, 2012 4:51 pm

Jimmie Johnson motivated for 2012 season

By Pete Pistone

Jimmie Johnson's streak of consecutive Sprint Cup Series championships came to an end last season at five. But the Hendrick Motorsports driver is all too ready to begin a new string in 2012.

Johnson said he's ready to put the disappointment of last season's title run in the rear view mirror and use it as a motivation factor for the coming year.

"Yeah, I mean, I've spent a lot of time through the off season thinking about the way I'm involved with the race team, the responsibilities I have, the just the way I've gone about work for the last five years, and it's hard to argue with the last five years and what had happened," Johnson said during Friday's break at Daytona testing.  Last year was the sixth year and we didn't get the results that we wanted.  But I really felt like we were competitive in a lot of areas.  Chad and I made some mistakes in the Chase and took ourselves out of it."

Johnson has used the days away from the track since the season ended to re-energize himself and believes it has been benficial. 

"It's been a very good off season for me to internalize some things and to really evaluate what goes on from my standpoint and my involvement with the team and how good of a teammate and team member I can be for the 48 car, and I'm making changes," he said.  "I feel like even though I tried to over the five year run not stall out and tried to continue to evolve and challenge myself and recreate myself.  It's hard to do it.  You have a roadmap that's working and it's hard to get too far from it.  This winter has been really good for me to really dive down and understand the areas where I feel like I can do a better job and be a better member of the 48 team.

"So I know I'm stronger and better today than I was leaving Homestead, so I'm looking forward to 2012."

Johnson can't pinpoint one particular thing that will get him going once the season starts to help his confidence level or generate momentum.

He continues to have a passion for his job and says that's all the motivation he needs.

"But really the thing that motivates me is the fire hasn't gone out in me to compete, and as long as that fire is burning, who I am as a person, I'm going to give 100 percent," Johnson said. "I know when I do a good job, what my responsibilities are.  That's the thing that keeps motivating me and that's what I'm reflecting on from last year is at times we did a good job, and when we put up 100 percent we got the results that we wanted.

"But some other time things just didn't work out as they should and weren't handled correctly from my side and the way I went about things.  So that's my motivation for this coming season is to not make those mistakes and to do the best job that I can and be the best member of this 48 team that I can be."

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: January 10, 2012 4:47 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 5:03 pm

Odds favor Jimmie Johnson as Sprint Cup champ

By Pete Pistone

Jimmie Johnson's championship drought will last only one season according to the oddsmakers.

The folks at Bovadalv have installed Johnson as the favorite to win the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship at 9-2.

Last year's runnerup Carl Edwards is at 6-1 while defending champ Tony Stewart enters the new year as 8-1 to repeat:

Odds to win the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship   

Jimmie Johnson 

Carl Edwards

Kyle Busch

Kevin Harvick

Tony Stewart

Denny Hamlin

Jeff Gordon

Kasey Kahne

Matt Kenseth

Clint Bowyer

Brad Keselowski

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Greg Biffle

Kurt Busch

Ryan Newman

Jeff Burton

Juan Pablo Montoya

More NASCAR coverage
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com