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“Start spreading the news. I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it. New York, New York.” Like the familiar refrain made famous by Frank Sinatra, Jimmie Johnson would sure like to be a part of something in New York this weekend – victory lane. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits its second and final road course of the season at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International this weekend.
Johnson has never won at the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course. It is one of five of the 23 tracks that the Sprint Cup Series visits where Johnson has yet to win. Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the others.
He does have six-top 10 finishes in 11 starts at the track in the sport’s top series. He also has competed there in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, when he famously went off course in 2000, as well as with the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series for Bob Stallings Racing in 2010.
While his numbers are respectable at the facility – he even earned the pole position in 2009 – he’d certainly “like to wake in that city” to find he’s “king of the hill, top of the heap,” like the song says. To do that, however, he’ll need to be ahead of 42 other competitors Sunday coming off the final turn at the New York State track, where anything can happen and usually does.
Here are some of Jimmie Johnson's thoughts heading into the weekend...
What are the differences between Sonoma and Watkins Glen?
“Really the speed. Watkins Glen is a much more ‘flowy’ racetrack. The speeds are a lot higher not only on the straights but through the corners, as well. Downforce, brakes – those come into play a lot more than what we see at Sonoma.”
What is it going to take to get that first victory at Watkins Glen?
“I have knocked on the door a little bit and I’ve been a top-five, top-three guy there. I just have never been the heat there. I’ve never been the dominant car. I hope to change that. I really enjoy the racetrack. If we can run in the top-five like we seem to do there, that will be a nice day for the points, but I’m itching to have that dominant car and get up there and race with Juan (Pablo Montoya) and the No. 9 (Marcos Ambrose) and, hopefully, have a shot at winning that thing.”