Post-race at Dover International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson reflected on his third place finish. While none of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers ended up in victory lane, Chase Elliott and Johnson finished second and third respectively.
Moving onto Round 2
Johnson said when they unloaded on Friday, they realized how much speed all the four Hendrick Motorsports cars had.
“As we look back over the summer, it just seems like tracks with more banking, our combination works well, and we were able to exploit that this weekend,” Johnson said.
Qualifying Continues to Be 48’s Achilles Heel
The No. 48 driver said though that he wished their team had qualified better.
“I really think we had a shot at winning the race today, and at times I was better than the 24 and the 18 and was catching there at the end,” he said.
“I just never really had track position to race for the win. I finally got top 3 there on the last run and we were out of laps.”
Charlotte Motor Speedway Next on the Cup Schedule
The most senior driver at HMS said it was a solid day, and he was optimistic about how the team would run at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the Cup Series will be next weekend — the first of three races in the second round of the playoffs. The other two tracks in the second round are Talladega and Kansas.
“Charlotte is a great track for us, as well, and typically when we run well at Dover, it carries over to Charlotte, and we’re optimistic about next week, too.”
After the Dover race concluded, Johnson spoke with his teammate Elliott about the runner up finish. Johnson said he knew he couldn’t make the No. 24 driver feel any better.
“I just wanted to check on him and turn him around where people couldn’t see his face and let him get those few first words and sentences out,” Johnson said.
“I anticipated them being cuss words, and they were. So just trying to be there for him, let him vent, let him get those first few sentences out. I just know from my own experience it’s just nice to kind of vent and get through that. Clearly he didn’t have much to say and he’s pretty bummed out about the situation. So is his team. They’re all gathered down there around the car. But mid‑week I’m sure they’ll work through this and find the silver lining and move on and go to Charlotte. They’re a fantastic race team. Chase is one heck of a driver, and look forward to whenever that celebration does happen.”
Weighing Options and Race Lines
The No. 48 driver said that at Dover, the bottom race line usually prevails.
“I’m not sure, especially on a long run the outside has really ever worked here,” he said.
“The two or three runs before the final one, Kyle was dedicated to it, and I was able to hold him back just running the bottom.”
Johnson said he thinks Elliott weighed his options and knew the bottom is where most of the races have been won, and stuck with that.
“I think he had more trouble with the lap cars that were in front of him,” Johnson noted.
“I think there was some cars fighting to stay on the lead lap that really, I think, hurt the performance of his car, and the 18 had a straightaway of clean air to really chip away at the lead and get to him. I feel like lap traffic probably played a bigger role in it than anything.”