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After a heart-breaking finish last weekend at Michigan, Jimmie Johnson is hoping to turn his luck around under the bright lights at Bristol Motor Speedway. Johnson will be taking on the half mile track, which is known for its high banking, in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet dubbed “White Lightning.” With the Chase quickly approaching, taking a victory lap at Bristol will give Johnson a needed boost in the driver’s standings, where he is currently sitting fourth after a 27th place finish at Michigan.
With the track changes made since the March race at Bristol, what do you expect the racing to be like?
“I don’t know what to expect. We have had grinding done at some tracks and we bought into a theory that it would do something; then it did the complete opposite. I don’t know what to expect until I really get on the track. I heard that where they ground the track was slick. We will just have to see over all the laps and, once we get into the race, what really happens there. Bristol went out on a limb here. It’s not about the drivers, it’s about the fans. We will see if they make everybody happy.”
What toll does Bristol take on drivers and their equipment?
“There are a lot of G-forces, and a lot of vertical loading with the high banks there. It’s easy to over-abuse a tire and slow the car down, eventually blowing the right-front and having a bigger issue. There is a fine balance you need to find between driving the car hard enough versus overdriving it. The equipment today is so strong that it’s tough to really break something from a suspension aspect or the engine. The tires – you can really run the tire off the car there.”
Due to the fact Bristol has the potential to be so different following the grinding of the track, do you think this race will be a “wild card” in terms of how the Chase will play out?
“Yeah, it can and that has always been a big concern about Bristol. For me, the reason I have always focused so hard to collect a lot of points early in the Chase is because Bristol has not been a strong track for me in years past. I have always been concerned about Bristol, and then also Richmond. When you are on a short track, anything can happen. I have watched a lot of guys have miserable nights in Richmond trying to make the Chase. I want to lock in before then, that’s the goal.”