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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the Granite State this weekend. New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon has proven to be a tough place at times for Jimmie Johnson. He has three wins, his most recent one coming at the mile oval in July 2010. But prior to that, a 2003 sweep was the last time he visited victory lane there.
Fortunately, Johnson’s last four races at the “Magic Mile” have ended in top-10 runs. At last year’s September race, he missed a shot at the win, earning a runner-up finish. It’s a position he hopes to improve on by one spot during Sunday’s Sylvania 300 after points leader Matt Kenseth won last weekend’s opening Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Johnson was bumped to third in points after his fifth-place finish at Chicagoland, a position he has never occupied entering the second race of the Chase.
The Lowe’s team tested last month at New Hampshire and all indications point to a productive weekend. With Johnson celebrating his 38th birthday Tuesday, it’s time for him to rock it in the Granite State. And there’d be no better gift than celebrating at the New Hampshire track with his fifth win of the season and what would be his 23rd in the history of the Chase.
Here's what Johnson had to say heading into New Hampshire:
What can we expect at New Hampshire?
“We had a great racecar there earlier this year and we’ve tested there, so I’m optimistic going back. The way the race unfolds, it’s definitely a different game when you get into the top-10. Restarts were important and the lane you were in made a difference on how you could pass.”
How do you think the change to the restart rules went the other night at Chicago?
“I think the change is good. I think we need to work on closing up some of the gaps between cars, but I applaud NASCAR for making a change. Something needed to be done.”