My Name Is (Not Kid Rock)
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 15, 2012) – With singer Kid Rock serving as grand marshal for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, there are plenty of his lyrics that fit Jimmie Johnson’s recent run of hard luck at the 2-mile oval, and none are more appropriate than the opening line of the song My Name Is Kid Rock. “Faded fast, ran outta gas” seems to sum things up best. (Anyone familiar with the lyrical stylings of Kid Rock, a “Pure Michigan” native, it is about the only line appropriate for this preview!)
Johnson hopes to turn around his string of frustrating finishes at the 2-mile Michigan oval as the series makes the season’s second and final visit to the track this weekend. He may have a little more confidence since claiming the top spot in the driver standings after Sunday’s third-place finish at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. He knows his modest one-point lead could use some padding, but Michigan has been a thorn in the side of Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team over the years. It is one of only five tracks on the circuit where Johnson has never celebrated one of his 58 victories. Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and Watkins Glen are the others.
However, Johnson and his team can be encouraged by the speed they’ve shown in the car despite encountering race-day issues the past few years. In 2009, it was all about fuel. He dominated the June race by leading 146 of 200 laps, but ran out of gas after taking the white flag and finished 22nd. He led 133 laps in the August race but ran out of fuel during the final two laps and finished 33rd.
In 2010, Johnson earned one of his best Michigan finishes to that point with a respectable sixth-place result. August wasn’t as kind as a few hiccups on pit road early in the race, and then a final pit stop during which Johnson took on four tires while most of the rest of the field stayed out or took fuel only, stymied his chance at victory once again.
Last year was no less frustrating. In June, Johnson was never able to show the speed of the No. 48 machine as the car broke loose on lap eight. While he saved it from contacting the wall, a part broke, forcing Johnson to come down pit road for lengthy repairs. He was never able to recover due to long, green-flag runs the rest of the race. Last August turned out to be the bright spot in Johnson’s history at Michigan as he finished a career-high second despite encountering issues, yet again, in the race.
During this season’s June race on the newly repaved Michigan circuit, it was back to the same-old, same-old for Johnson. But despite the fact he was running out of gas, yet again, coming out of turn three while headed for the checkered flag, and having endured right-rear tire issues earlier in the race, he was able to pull off his fourth top-five finish in 21 races at Michigan. Call it another moral victory.
This weekend, much like Kid Rock, who will undoubtedly be his usual, highly entertaining self in front of the pre-race crowd, Johnson hopes to make it to race’s end without fading fast or running out of gas, and he hopes to hear that same crowd whispering his name.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, Driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports:
What are your thoughts going into Michigan?
“We had a really strong car there (at the June race) and I’m excited to go back. Late in the race, I was running down the leaders and I blistered a right-rear tire. But, I understand that a great tire test took place at the track recently and they didn’t see any issues. So I feel like things are fixed and I’m looking forward to going back because I know we’re going to be strong. The way we’ve been running on the ovals, and also with our performance at Michigan in June, even though we blistered a tire, I really feel like I can win there and make that list one shorter for the tracks we haven’t won on. I really feel this is our best chance ever.”
Talk about being the points leader.
“I’m excited to be leading the points. Whoever the team is, I really believe they get some much-needed experience with the pressure of the points lead late in the season. It’s just different than leading at any other point in time. I look forward to the pressure on my team and myself. Every little thing we can do to get prepared for the Chase is helpful. This is another step in that direction. I’m excited about that.”
Source: Jimmie Johnson media