WS: Iowa: Richard Johns preview

NASCAR Camping World Driver Richard Johns Used To 'Quick Learning Curve' Sadler-Hamilton Racing Pilot Will Make First Iowa Speedway Start This Weekend, Will Carry Freedom Is Not Free Veteran's Help Organization on No. 59 Dodge NASHVILLE, TN...

NASCAR Camping World Driver Richard Johns Used To 'Quick Learning Curve'

Sadler-Hamilton Racing Pilot Will Make First Iowa Speedway Start This Weekend, Will Carry Freedom Is Not Free Veteran's Help Organization on No. 59 Dodge

NASHVILLE, TN (May 12, 2008) -- When Richard Johns steers his No 59 Freedom Is Not Free Dodge Charger on to Iowa Speedway this weekend, it will be the first time the Sadler-Hamilton Racing driver will compete at the gleaming new race track. While a lack throw some drivers for a loop, Johns is used to having a 'quick learning curve.'

"I got a lot of experience going to new, high-speed race tracks in the NASCAR Busch Series last year," said Johns. "It was pretty much the same thing every week as I'd have to learn the track and race with just one day of practice. That's what we're going to have to do at Iowa. I've seen the track on television and it's very impressive. A lot of people say it is a lot like a big Richmond and I feel like I did a good job in the Busch race there last year. If Iowa is as they say, a big Richmond, then I think we're going to do very well."

Johns carried the momentum of 15 NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide) Series starts last year into the NASCAR Camping World East Series season opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway April 19. There, the 26-year-old racer turned in an impressive performance qualifying 15th and racing from the back of the pack to as high as fourth before late-race tire woes resulted in a still solid 13th-place series debut.

In fact, the Greenville performance was impressive enough for Sadler-Hamilton owner and teammate Bobby Hamilton, Jr. to withdraw his entry from the Iowa event and let Johns be the sole carrier of the Sadler-Hamilton banner.

"The main reason I raced in the Greenville race was so we'd have two teams to bounce things off of," said Hamilton, Jr. in announcing his Iowa scratch. "As it turns out, Richard didn't need anything from me. He had one of the best cars out there. Because Richard did so well, there's really no reason for me to carry the No. 95 Sadler-Hamilton car to the next race at Iowa. Richard's got it covered. I'd just be in the way interfering with those guys taking care of business and without me there, the guys can concentrate 100 percent on Richard and the No. 59 car. I just want Richard to be comfortable and get full advantage of everything we can give him at Iowa."

"Hearing Bobby, Jr. say that kind of stuff makes me feel pretty good," said Johns. "I knew in the back in my mind that I could run well in this series and then to go to Greenville and run as well as we did just proved it to a lot of people. It really solidified my confidence. It's a shame we didn't get the kind of finish we deserved, but you can be sure we impressed a lot of people and they knew we were there. Everybody now knows that they are going to have to compete really well if they are going to beat the Sadler-Hamilton bunch."

Given the pre-entry for the Camping World East-West Division showdown is reportedly going to draw upwards of 60 entries this weekend, Johns knows the Iowa event is going to be one of the most hotly contested on the schedule this season.

"There's a lot of competition in the Camping World East Series and you pretty much double that when you add the guys from the West Series to the mix like we're going to do at Iowa," said Johns. "I've heard there's something like 55 entries for the race. This is a big deal. You know just about every car is capable of running well or winning. It's not going to be a cakewalk for anyone to win. You are definitely going to have to compete to the best of your ability because everyone you are racing is so good in these type of cars."

Johns will also carry a special sponsor into the Iowa race -- Freedom Is Not Free -- a group that aids families of wounded and deceased American military personnel.

"I got involved with Freedom Is Not Free awhile back," said Johns. "They are doing everything they can to help the all too often forgotten casualties of our freedom, the wounded veterans, their families, and the families of the individuals who gave their lives for our freedom. Anything we can do with our racing program to bring attention to their efforts is a benefit. There's a lot of worthy causes out there, but taking care of our wounded veterans and broken families is something all Americans should be involved in."

Richard Johns will take the green flag in the U.S. Cellular 200 NASCAR Camping World Series race Sunday, May 18 at 4 p.m. Central Time.

-credit: s-h racing

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Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Richard Johns