By admin | September 24, 2011
By Richard Allen
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has moved to Loudon, New Hampshire for the 28th race on the 36 race schedule and the second of ten Chase for the Championship playoff races. This is the second visit to this one-mile facility for the series. Ryan Newman led a 1-2 finish by Stewart-Haas Racing at the track back in July.
This time around, Jimmie Johnson will take the win for Hendrick Motorsports on this relatively flat â€˜Magic Mileâ€™.
Johnson managed a 10th place result last week in a somewhat wild and confusing finish at the Chicagoland Speedway. That has him placed 8th in the Sprint Cup standings, 16 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
The #48 HMS team has proven over the past five seasons that they understand how the Chase game is played and they will no doubt realize it is time to make their move. And this track is one on which they can do just that.
Johnson has won three times here and has collected seven top-5s and thirteen top-10s over the course of his career. He was 5th at NHMS this July.
Not only does this driver and team have a good track record at this facility and understand that it is time to make their championship move, but they have shown strength in practice and qualifying.
In an odd quirk, being one of the fastest cars in practice actually worked against Johnson to some degree in Fridayâ€™s qualifying session. The fastest cars in practice are among the last to take their laps in time trials. As it turned out, a brief rain shower passed by the speedway late in the session. Just before Johnson was to take his lap, Juan Pablo Montoya had gone out and posted an adventurous circuit on a track that was likely not dry enough.
Johnson followed Montoya and actually pulled off the track on his â€˜up-to-speedâ€™ lap. There is no way he had full confidence in the grip he would have when he finally went out for a full speed trip. Still, he managed a time that will place him 10th on the starting grid. Not bad for a tentative driver on a track that is slick on its best day.
So, at the end of the day on Sunday(hopefully on Sunday) look for Jimmie Johnson in victory lane. His team knows how to step it up at Chase time, they have a good record at NHMS and the #48 car is fast this weekend.
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