Johns Posts 20th-Place Finish In NASCAR Camping World East Division Event At Nashville NASHVILLE, TN (July 21, 2008) -- A 20th-place finish proved to be a disappointment for Richard Johns in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Series East Division...
Johns Posts 20th-Place Finish In NASCAR Camping World East Division Event At Nashville
NASHVILLE, TN (July 21, 2008) -- A 20th-place finish proved to be a disappointment for Richard Johns in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Series East Division Strutmasters.com 150 at the half-mile Music City Motorplex oval at Nashville.
"The testing we did at Nashville the week before really paid off," stated Johns, driver of the No. 59 Medical Billing Solutions Dodge Charger fielded by Sadler-Hamilton Racing. "That was the first time we tested before a race this season, something the best teams in the series do all the time. They test a lot and it pays off for them. It did for us too. I wish would could have had a better finish, but we had the best performance we had since the opening race of the season at Greenville. We just deserved a better result."
Johns, a veteran of 15 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts in 2007, was making his third Camping World start this season at Nashville Saturday. The 26-year-old Cornelius, NC driver showed early on that his Sadler-Hamilton Dodge was going to be one of the cars to beat at the famed Tennessee State Fairgrounds half-mile oval.
"We had a good car right off the truck," said Johns. "We were second quickest in the first practice and we were sixth in the second practice. We qualified 11th, in large part because we didn't have a very good qualifying draw and the cars that went later in the session got helped a lot by better track conditions."
At the drop of the green flag, Johns quickly steered his way into the Top-10 and stayed there throughout the first 100 circuits of the 150-lap race. Then the wheels started to come off thanks in large part to an incident not of his making.
"The car was handling good at the start of the race and biggest thing about racingatNashvilleis taking care of your tires," Johns stated. "I was just saving my tires and the plan was to ride until Lap 100 or so and then race to the finish. The plan was working until one of the cars behind us got turned around and he came up after he wrecked and ran into the front of our car. We had nothing to do with his wreck and I have no idea why he did that. After that, the car got really tight. I think the contact might have bent a spindle or something in the front suspension. Either way, the car never was the same after that. There was just no reason for him to do that."
Now battling a wounded race car, Johns was still able to stay in the Top-10 and was just 35 laps from the finish when trouble found him again.
"We were just trying to ride out the race, but we were still in the top-10," Johns said. "My right rear tire was pretty much gone and I got a little loose up off of Turn 4. Somebody got into my left rear and we got turned into the fence. Then we got tagged by another car. We were all running in a tight pack and there was just no room for error."
Johns' Sadler-Hamilton crew was able to make repairs to the car and return him to the track, but the car was too badly damaged and Johns decided to call it a night completing 130 laps and finishing 20th.
"We went back out and made a couple of laps," said Johns. "The car was pretty badly damaged and it wasn't the smartest thing to be out there. There was no point continuing as slow as we were and as out of control as the car was. The last thing we wanted to do it ruin somebody else's day, so we just parked it about 15 laps from the finish."
Johns, who doubles as a NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series team engineer, will now take a couple of weeks off to work the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and the Nationwide race in Montreal in that capacity the next two weeks. He hopes to return to the driver's seat in an American Speed Association late model stock car event at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday, August 9.
"We'll know in the next couple of days if we are going to do that event," Johns stated. "We just have to find out if the rules and our late model match up. If they do, we'll be there."