HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 3, 2012) – To say restrictor-plate racing hasn’t been kind to Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team this year is an understatement. No place was worse than the 2012 season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Johnson was credited with completing one lap at the 2.5-mile superspeedway after he was involved in an accident not of his own doing. He managed to complete 60 more laps at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in April but with similar results – a No. 48 machine that visited the garage well before the checkered flag.
This Fourth of July weekend, going the distance – the full distance – is tops on the list for the No. 48 team.
The tight packs that characterize plate racing typically lead to feast-or-famine finishes, and Johnson’s record of six finishes of 30th or worse, coupled with10 top-10s in 21 plate races, typifies that. On the plus side, he has visited victory lane at plate tracks three times, including the Daytona 500 in 2006, the sport’s biggest race and his only victory at the “World Center of Racing.”
While Johnson never has won in July at Daytona, his record is somewhat better in the annual midsummer 400-miler. He has an average finish of 15.2 in July compared to 21.0 in the Daytona 500 in February. He has four DNFs (did not finish) at the superspeedway, three of the four occurring in the Daytona 500.
In addition to going the distance in Saturday night’s race, Johnson also will try to go the distance Sunday when he competes in his first triathlon in Charleston, S.C. His first priority, obviously, is Daytona. Regardless of whether he sees Fourth of July-style fireworks from victory lane or from the cockpit of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, the only thing that will matter is that Johnson goes the distance – long enough to see them.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, Driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports:
You really didn’t get to complete a lot of laps in February. Are you going to go back with the same setup, or are you going to do stuff a little bit differently this weekend?
“We are so boxed in, chassis-wise, due to the restrictor-plate rules. Vehicle-wise, it’s very similar. NASCAR has given up a higher pop-off valve due to the higher temperatures we will have there. Really, it’s kind of as is. It has been pretty easy from my standpoint on restrictor-plate tracks anymore because the rules have stayed the same.”
Do you have any special Fourth of July traditions or anything that you normally do?
“No, nothing yet. I think as my daughter gets older and understands the day and the fun we can have with fireworks, I hope Mom will let us have the fireworks. I’m sure we will develop some traditions there. We are on the road so much, and then the Fourth can fall midweek and all that kind of thing that we don’t have any traditions, but certainly respect the day.”
Talk about the event you are doing the day after the Daytona race?
“I’ve got my first triathlon I’m competing in. I won’t get a lot of rest going into it after hopefully winning in Daytona, then working my way over to Charleston for that event. I’m looking forward to it. It’s something I’ve always had in mind, and I’m going to start with the sprint distance and see how that goes and work my way from there. It’s just a great way to keep training fresh and new and fun. We’ve got a big group of guys going to it, so it will be a fun day.”
Source: Jimmie Johnson media