Jimmie Johnson rolls into two weeks of racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway – one of his best tracks – fresh off his Sprint Cup Series-best third victory of the season.
You know what that means.
Time to dust off the many tire tracks left from Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet making repeated trips to the Victory Lane at the Charlotte track.
Johnson is a four-time winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, set for Saturday night, and he has seven Cup series victories at Charlotte Speedway, including four in the Coca-Cola 600, set for May 24.
If his performance at Charlotte wasn’t enough to label him a favorite the next two weekends, Johnson (four) and Kevin Harvick (three) are the only drivers to win the last seven races on 1.5-mile tracks such as Charlotte.
“I’m really looking forward to running at Charlotte with the way we’ve been running on the mile-and-a-halves – I feel really good about it,” Johnson said after his win in the rain-delayed race Saturday night at Kansas Speedway.
“With the way we land in the corners at Charlotte it poses a different kind of challenge for the race team. In that sense, I don’t think we’ve seen anything like Charlotte yet.”
Perhaps not, but the view still has been good for Johnson, who in addition to his win at Kansas also took home victories at Atlanta and Texas this season.
Just 11 races into the season, he is one win short of his 2014 total – a year that was “sub-par” by his team’s standards.
Johnson, who has won six series championships, finished 11th in the series standings in the first season of NASCAR’s new Chase format – his worst performance since becoming a full-time driver in the 2002 season.
Still, four victories and a Chase berth would be the envy of many other teams.
As is his team’s performance on the intermediate tracks, which make up the bulk of the series schedule, including the 10-race Chase.
“On the big tracks, aero, balance, the engine performance, the small details – that’s what separates our team from others,” Johnson said.
“That’s where you find that tenth of a second that puts you in the winner’s circle.”
Don’t expect Johnson and his team to slow down anytime soon. After Charlotte, the series moves to Dover, Del., where Johnson holds the track record for most victories (nine).
“I think who runs well at Charlotte, you can look forward to Dover being a strong race for that team, as well,” Johnson said. “Charlotte has been great to us, and so has Dover, so we’re definitely excited with the success we’ve had on mile-and-a-halves and taking it back home this week.”
Utter: 704- 358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter