Jarit Johnson Finishes ARCA Pocono Event despite Tough Circumstances Jarit Johnson qualified 27th and finished 29th piloting the no. 38 GermaneRED/Germane Tooling Chevy despite tough circumstances that nearly kept him from making Saturday's ARCA...
Jarit Johnson Finishes ARCA Pocono Event despite Tough Circumstances
Jarit Johnson qualified 27th and finished 29th piloting the no. 38 GermaneRED/Germane Tooling Chevy despite tough circumstances that nearly kept him from making Saturday's ARCA RE/MAX Series Pennsylvania 200 at Pocono Raceway. It was Johnson's first-ever time racing at Pocono Speedway, known as the "Tricky Triangle" for its triangle shape and unique 3-turns. In practice on Friday Johnson didn't even make it around the track one full lap before the engine let go ending his chance for any practice time. It was the beginning of a race weekend full of adversity.
With limited time before qualifying, the team spent the next several hours making an engine change. Two-time NASCAR SPRINT Cup Champion and older brother, Jimmie Johnson, was lending a hand to make repairs and could be seen running with the team to push their car out onto the qualifying grid. They had literally less than one-minute to spare before ARCA officials would have eliminated the team from qualifying.
Johnson's first full lap at speed around Pocono Speedway would be his qualifying lap, which would determine making the race or going home. Under the enormous pressure he drove a smooth and fast enough lap for 27th and a guaranteed spot into the race.
"I can't thank the crew guys enough for getting the car back together that fast," said Jarit. "Jimmie came over and was helping us out in his race suit and so were some Hendrick crew guys. They were preparing for their own qualifying run, which was coming up right after mine. They had much more important things to do, so I really am humbled that they would all help us out like they did."
"I'm just glad we made the race and were able to get GermaneRED, which is a new sponsor for me into the show," added Johnson. "I'm also glad we didn't have any effect on the Lowes 48 team's qualifying efforts." (Jimmie Johnson won the pole for Sunday afternoon's Sunoco/Red Cross Sprint Cup 500).
Johnson had to start the Pennsylvania 200 at the end of the field for aborting his original qualifying order. That placed him in 41st place at the start of the race. In the first quarter of the event Johnson was taking his time and made several clean passes while working his way towards the front half of the field. Johnson reported over the radio that his car was beginning to tighten up. Then he felt something hit the bottom of the racecar. Shortly after during a caution Johnson reported something wrong with his car's handling. It was determined he likely had a flat tire. After coming down pit road and losing a lap it was confirmed that Johnson had cut down a right rear tire.
He returned the race and got back on the lead lap by obtaining the lucky dog as the first car one lap down. He was now in 31st position and was again making passes and cleanly and patiently working his way forward. Johnson began to report again that his cars handling was getting tight. Then it became an overwhelming poor handling race car. The team determined something else was wrong and Johnson returned to pit road. A broken part of the right front A-arm was causing Johnson's car to want to turn right. Repairs were made to the car on pit road, but left Johnson 4-laps down. He returned to the track and avoided several late race incidences. Johnson finished the race 29th.
"It wasn't the finish I think we were capable of," said Johnson. "It was just one of those race weekends where things went wrong and we were chasing our tail from the start. But I really liked the track and we were able to get into the race after all that happened and finish it out without any damage."
Johnson had just a one-race deal with Fox Motorsports, a local Pennsylvania team. He'll be returning to his late model racing at Hickory Motor Speedway later this year. Johnson hopes to continue in the ARCA Series in 2009.
"We have some things in the works and hopefully we can get with a team for a full 2009 run in ARCA," said Johnson. "I would love to do it just need to put all the pieces together and it needs to be the right situation."
"I am grateful for GermaneRED/Germane Tooling Group, Blaise Alexander Family Dealerships, and everyone else who supported this event," added Johnson. "We also carried the Jimmie Johnson Foundation on the car this weekend and I hope we raised some awareness to all they are doing."