Jimmie Johnson will pilot the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Impala SS around Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday, the first 1.5-mile track the team will visit this season. Last March, Johnson finished 29th at Las Vegas. But despite an engine problem that...
Jimmie Johnson will pilot the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Impala SS around Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday, the first 1.5-mile track the team will visit this season.
Last March, Johnson finished 29th at Las Vegas. But despite an engine problem that ended in a 39th-place result at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Johnson had an average finish of 12.4 on 1.5-mile tracks by the end of the year.
In Sunday's race, Team Lowe's Racing will debut a brand new chassis and hopes to start the season's mile-and-a-half competition with a solid top 10 finish.
YOU GO TO VEGAS THIS WEEK, YOUR FIRST 1.5-MILE TRACK. IS IT A PRETTY GOOD BAROMETER ON HOW YOUR 1.5-MILE PROGRAM IS GOING TO BE FOR THE WHOLE YEAR? "I think it is. I think that you know where we need a little bit of work and help on is the high-banked 1.5-mile tracks and Vegas is kind of in that middle stage. Flat tracks like we showed here last fall, big flat tracks we've got a great set up. It's more the Charlotte, Atlanta, Texas-style tracks. So I think Atlanta will be a good yardstick for the No. 48 car. Texas is pretty early if I remember right. Those two tracks in particular are the ones that I feel we need to get better at. If I look at Chicago, we got beat there on the last lap but it was on a restart and I went up and took the lead from the No. 18 so I feel really good about the Vegas, Kansas, Chicago-style tracks. It's just the ones with more banking that we need a little bit more work."
DUE TO THE LACK OF TESTING, WILL THE SAME TEAMS CONTINUE TO BE ON TOP OR WILL THERE BE SOME SURPRISES? "I really think you have to go back to the conclusion of last season and look at the way everybody was running on certain types of tracks and start there. I don't know how much we can all learn without testing. It's going to be a great test to the engineers and the seven-post rigs and all that stuff that we all own and use, but we're always able to go to the track and validate it and see if that stuff has worked or not. So, in my mind, I look at who was strong at these tracks last year."
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
* Johnson has made seven Cup Series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, posting three wins, three top-five and four top-10 finishes.
* Johnson has completed 99.9% (1870 of 1872) of competition laps at the 1.5-mile track and has led 210.
* Johnson has an average start and finish of 16.4 and 9.3.
* Johnson will pilot a brand new chassis, No. 534, in Sunday's race.
* The backup chassis, No. 465, was last driven to a 17th-place finish at Michigan International Speedway in August 2008.