By admin | May 23, 2010
By Richard Allen
After a couple of not so Jimmie Johnson like performances over the last few weeks some racing followers began to speculate that the four time consecutive champion had lost his edge after NASCAR removed the rear wing from the Car of Tomorrow and replaced it with a blade spoiler.
Johnson ran poorly at Darlington and eventually ended his night with a hard crash. That resulted in a 36th place finish after not leading a single lap.
The Darlington run came on the heels of a 31st place finish in Talladega and a 10th in Richmond. Johnson crashed in Talladega and was never a real contender for the win in Richmond.
Could it have been that crew chief Chad Knaus and his driver had lost their edge when that wing went away?
Well, the last two weeks have gone a long way toward ending that talk. In Dover, Johnson led a dominating 225 laps of the 400 lap event. He finished 16th after being punished for speeding on pit road during the last pit stop of the day. The #48 car looked like a sure winner until that penalty.
On Saturday in the Sprint All Star Race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a track on which Johnson has had tremendous success, the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet looked very much like its old self again by leading big chunks of the race.
A pit stop just before the final ten lap segment put Johnson back to 3rd place. From there, as is so often the case, cars were unable to make many moves in the so called â€˜dirty airâ€™ which prevented him from moving to the front. Eventually, the driver of the Loweâ€™s car would spin through the infield grass and drop from contention. However, no one left CMS thinking the Johnson/Knaus team had lost their edge.
So no, Jimmie Johnson was not just winging it. He has looked every bit as strong over the last two weeks with the spoiler as he ever did with the wing. The only difference could be that his horseshoe may have fallen out of hisâ€¦ well, you know.
Still, look for this team to dominate in the 600 miler on Memorial Day weekend.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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