Friday, November 1, 2013
Jimmie Johnson comfortable at TMS
By Richard Durrett
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Almost from the moment Jimmie Johnson first arrived at Texas Motor Speedway more than a decade ago, he looked comfortable racing around the 1.5-mile oval.
While other drivers needed a ton of laps to figure things out, Johnson and his team quickly discovered a setup that worked, and despite changes to the track's surface, they've made contending at TMS almost automatic. He looks to continue that run in the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday as he attempts to win a sixth championship.
He's got two wins and 15 top-10 finishes in 20 career starts, including nine top-5s. Johnson hasn't started worse than 18th at TMS, and that was back in 2005, when he finished third. Both of Johnson's victories came by winning one-on-one duels. He beat Matt Kenseth in 2007 on his way to a title and Brad Keselowski in this race last year.
"It's a good track," Johnson said. "I feel like we have to work hard for it, which is fine. It never comes easy here. That's one aspect of this track is that you've got to roll your sleeves up and go to work, and that's something our team is really good at."
Johnson is once again in the middle of a championship chase. He's tied with Kenseth on top of the Chase standings with three races to go and will be competing Sunday at a track that he likes. He said Friday that he enjoys the surface and "character" of the track and that he knows all the bumps and dips.
"The driver has more confidence," Johnson said about the track's surface. "The tire-asphalt combination, the way it works, we can slide the car without big penalty or consequence. Some of the newer asphalt, you get a little slip in the tire and it's gone and around and you can't drive the same."