UNDER THE HOOD

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BBQ

Kansas City is a barbecue town. Locals will steer folks to Gates, or Arthur Bryant’s on their first visit, and then on to one of the smaller establishments, like L.C.’s, Woodyard, or Oklahoma Joe’s. But barbecue (aka “BBQ”) for Jimmie Johnson this weekend may stand for something else – “Better Be Quick.”

The five-time champion certainly had that covered last weekend at Dover (Del.) International Speedway as he dominated at the Monster Mile to record his fifth win of the season, his first in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and his 23rd win in the Chase’s 10-year history. The win, coupled with two top-five finishes in the first two events of NASCAR’s playoffs this year – fifth at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., and fourth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon – has moved him into second in the point standings, just eight behind leader Matt Kenseth.

Johnson is hoping to continue that streak at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, just west of the Missouri-Kansas state line. It just so happens to be one of Johnson’s best tracks. In 14 races there, he has finished outside the top-10 only twice – 14th in 2006 and 32nd in 2004 after he was collected in an accident. He has won twice and has finished in the top-three six times.

While the stats look good, that doesn’t always guarantee a good finish. But Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team know a visit to victory lane would certainly help their chances at a sixth championship, or “Six Pack” as they’ve titled their quest, but they know this week they “Better Be Quick.”

Here’s what Johnson had to say heading into Kansas:

What makes Kansas unique of all the 1.5-mile tracks?

“Well, it’s been resurfaced recently and the right tire, the tire has changed again. There will be a lot going into the test session on Thursday to understand the tire to get the most out of it. I know it’s not really relative to racing and the race itself, but I’m just impressed what that area has done around the racetrack, the sports venues that are there and the retail stuff. I think we all look at that example and say, ‘Why don’t we have more of that? This works so well.’ Our sport is really the centerpiece of what goes on around there. I enjoy going to the track. There are certainly challenges with the newer surface and the new tire we will have. We will just have to get out there and see.” 

Talking about repaves, do you think the track has seasoned a little bit?

“I know tire wear was really low. Goodyear and NASCAR didn’t like the fact there wasn’t any tire wear and that is why they tested a couple of times and having this test day for us. They are trying to create the right tire fall-off so we can have that side-by-side racing that is everybody’s goal.”

Kansas Race Statistics:

  • Two wins (September 2008 and October 2011).
  • Three poles (October 2003, September 2007 and 2008).
  • Six top-five finishes (42.9 percent) and 12 top-10s (85.7 percent) in 14 starts.
  • Average start of 11.4 and average finish of 7.6.
  • Sprint Cup’s best driver rating (119.1 average of a possible 150 points).
  • Sprint Cup’s best average running position (7.4).

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1
#24
Jeff Gordon
297
2
#20
Matt Kenseth
-1
3
#99
Carl Edwards
-19
5
#48
Jimmie Johnson
-27
Darlington
Started: 26th
Finished: 3rd
Richmond
Saturday, April 26th
7 p.m. ET on FOX
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