Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Jimmie Johnson on New Hampshire: 'It starts with qualifying....it's tough to pass'

Jimmie Johnson (5/1) last won at Loudon in 2010
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 9, 2013) – “There goes my hero. Watch him as he goes. There goes my hero. He’s ordinary.” The lyrics to the Foo Fighters song “My Hero” fit the people who will be recognized at this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Those heroes aren’t the ones driving racecars. They are the people who risk their lives every day when called upon to help when a disaster or emergency occurs. They are our country’s first responders.

The NASCAR community comes together this weekend to host those in the New England area who were first on the scene when called upon last April during the Boston Marathon bombing. Jimmie Johnson met several of the survivors from that day at a special luncheon two weeks ago that included bombing survivors and several other champions from Boston’s famed sports teams. At the luncheon, Johnson noted that, in tough times, sports often serve as a diversion, something to take our minds off of our day-to-day problems.

The five-time champion and the rest of the NASCAR circuit will serve as that diversion this weekend when they travel to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Johnson has three wins at the mile oval, his most recent coming in the July race in 2010. He also is coming off an historic sweep of the season’s Sprint Cup events at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and is also leading the driver point standings. His four wins this season currently make him the top seed for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Matt Kenseth also has four wins but Johnson wins the tiebreaker with a next-best finish of second to Kenseth’s next-best finish of sixth.

So while Johnson tries to be a hero on the racetrack, attempting to make it to victory lane two consecutive weeks, the sport remembers and honors those who are the real heroes – ordinary people who do extraordinary things when disaster strikes.

Johnson’s New Hampshire Quick Stats:
Three wins (July and September 2003, July 2010).
Eight top-five finishes (36.4 percent) and 15 top-10s (68.2 percent) in 22 starts.
Average start of 11.1 and average finish of 9.5.
Completed 6,407 of 6,475 laps (98.9 percent) and led 321.
Sprint Cup’s third-best driver rating (105.8 average of a possible 150 points).
Sprint Cup’s second-best in fastest laps run (405).
Sprint Cup’s second-best in most laps in the top-15 with 3,936 (82.6 percent).
Sprint Cup’s second-best in quality passes with 536.


What do you need to do to run well at New Hampshire?

“It starts with qualifying. Getting a good starting spot is really important and not just because of pit-stall selection. It’s tough to pass there and starting in the back just makes your day that much tougher. Track position is key. And the car drives differently depending on where you are. Once you get up front, it’s a whole different ball game than when you’re in traffic. You need the car to turn a specific way when you are back there. So, really, having a good race strategy and staying up front are important for a good finish.”

How big is it to get this win and tie Matt Kenseth for four wins on the season?
“Yeah, every point counts, without a doubt. Clearly locking in, I think three wins locked us into the Chase. Clearly we’ve got nothing to worry about from that standpoint. Now, it’s trying to get each and every point we can to carry in. Happy to get four wins and, hopefully, we can get a couple more and get ahead of him (Matt Kenseth).”

- True Speed Communication for Team Lowe’s Racing

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