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With Quicken Loans serving as the title sponsor for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Jimmie Johnson may want to get a loan on some good luck.
The request isn’t without reason. Johnson and Team Lowe’s Racing have experienced some frustrating finishes at the 2-mile oval. Michigan has been a thorn in the side of Johnson and the No. 48 over the years. It is one of only five tracks on the circuit where Johnson never has celebrated one of his 63 victories. Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International are the others.
In this race last year, Johnson nearly ran out of gas but managed to pull off a fifth-place finish. But that was followed by a DNF (did not finish) in August. In June 2011, the No. 48 machine broke loose on lap eight. While Johnson saved the car from hitting the wall, a part broke, forcing Johnson to enter pit road for lengthy repairs. He never was able to recover due to long green-flag runs in the race.
While Johnson earned a respectable sixth place in June 2010, August wasn’t as kind. Overcoming early pit road issues, Johnson was in contention but took on four tires on the final stop while most of the field stayed out or took fuel, relegating him to a 12th-place finish.
In 2009, fuel was the issue. Johnson dominated the June race by leading 146 of 200 laps, but ran out of gas after taking the white flag and finished 22nd. He led 133 laps in the August race but again ran out of fuel during the final two laps and finished 33rd.
He may have a little more confidence this weekend, coming off a dominating win last Sunday at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, stretching his lead in the driver standings to 51 points over second-place Carl Edwards. But it’s not surprising that Johnson wouldn’t mind a little loan on some good luck at Michigan.
What are you thought’s about racing at Michigan this weekend?
“The Michigan track surface has had summer and winter on it, and we’ll see how much grip is just in the surface. I would assume we’ll go as fast as we did (last year) if not faster; and with the flatter track, I think the Gen-6 car will outperform the Gen-5. The question really comes down to how much grip is still in the asphalt. I would assume it’s going to be high. On fresh repaves, the grip is always at its highest. I’m not exactly sure how that will play out, but I’m happy that a summer and a winter have been on the track. It will make the racing wider for us, and that’s what we’re all hoping for. We’ve had weird things happen at Michigan, but one of these times it (a win) will happen for us; and I hope it’s this year.”
Are you doing anything special for Father’s Day?
“They’ll have the ‘Father’s Day Olympics’ again, so I’ll be out there with (daughter) Evie. MRO (Motor Reaching Outreach) puts it on, and we’ll be out there for that. Last year, she really didn’t understand the relay races and what was going on, but this year she’ll be much more involved, and it’ll be fun!”