Article by Jeff Owens, scenedaily.com
Jimmie Johnson admits that he enjoyed watching Kurt Busch's frustrations bubble to the surface Sunday after he beat Busch to win the Food City 500 at Bristol.
Charlotte NSCS Testing Speeds Afternoon Session Day 1
Charlotte NSCS Testing Speeds Morning Session Day 1
“To see him get out and throw stuff at his car, punch his car, it’s comical. I’m glad that we are doing this to these guys,” Johnson says.
Johnson, the defending four-time Cup champion, has left numerous drivers frustrated and demoralized the past four years, and he doesn’t believe that will change with NASCAR’s switch from a wing to a spoiler on its Sprint Cup car.
While drivers such as Carl Edwards admitted to being frustrated with their car during the spoiler test at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday, Johnson didn’t seem the least bit concerned about the change. While most teams were experimenting with the spoiler, adjusting to the increased drag and downforce, Johnson and his team were more concerned about a new tire and finding new setups for a track he has dominated over the years.
“There is nothing big jumping out at us, saying that the spoiler is a lot different,” Johnson says “We’ve just been kind of working on our race car like this was a just a normal test and there wasn’t any change.”
Johnson, who won more races than any driver with the wing, has won three of the five races this season and will be a heavy favorite this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, where he has won six times.
Instead of worrying that the change might take away part of his advantage, Johnson looks at the spoiler as an opportunity for his dominant team to get even better.
“I’m not really worried. I think we’re viewing this as an opportunity,” he says. “We might not be the first team to find the magic the spoiler wants, but we’re usually pretty good at finding stuff in a hurry. The fact that it’s a new element to the car brings a few months worth of opportunities. We saw that with the wing coming along.
“The start of any rules change, you have your largest separation, and as time goes on, the teams that are behind catch up, that’s just part of the NASCAR garage. … In the short term, I think there will be some opportunities, and I think our team will be able to find some things to take advantage of.”
The spoiler has added both drag and downforce to the cars and is expected to make them easier to drive in traffic, especially during side-by-side racing. Johnson believes that favors him.
“I feel I do a very, very good job working through traffic,” Johnson says. “That’s just something I have always done well.
“The longer the races, the more cars I need to pass, the more passing that needs to take place, I do a better job at that. So I’m hopeful this will give me more opportunity in traffic, to get through traffic, than with the other situation.”
That could translate into more wins as Johnson attempts to win a fifth straight championship. It could also help him keep his mental advantage.
“I think we have a small mental advantage [but] that can be very short-lived if we don’t perform. … Right now, we are in a good position,” Johnson says. “Hopefully we can maintain it, especially when the Chase comes around. I felt like last year [that mental advantage] was helpful to us.”
NASCAR adjusts gearing for Charlotte opts for smaller restrictor plates at Talladega