Same track, but new car for Johnson
May 23, 2013, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com
The six-time winner at the track will pilot a new car in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, because his No. 48 team didn’t have enough time to turn around the vehicle that won the Sprint All-Star Race. His victorious car from last Saturday night was released Tuesday from post-race inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center, and Sprint Cup Series haulers entered the 1.5-mile Charlotte track at 9 a.m. Thursday.
“With check-in today, there’s just not enough time to turn the car around,” Johnson said Thursday. “We have lots to work from, but it’s still a new weekend and the race is much different than before. But we feel like we have a good direction, and we’ll see where things stack up.”
"We feel like we have a good direction, and we’ll see where things stack up."
-- Jimmie Johnson
Johnson last weekend won his second consecutive all-star event, streaking away in the final 10-lap segment. The five-time champion returns to a speedway where he once won five out of six races, but now hasn’t claimed a points victory since 2009. The most recent of his three career victories in the annual spring 600-miler came in 2005.
NASCAR begins inspecting the winning car from the previous weekend at 8 a.m. Tuesday, and the vehicle is typically on the way back to the team by noon that same day. Ideally, Johnson said he would have preferred to use the same car this week, but with opening practice and qualifying for the 600 set for Thursday, his team couldn’t turn it around in time.
“In the old days before, the cars would come home with us, and they wouldn’t go to the tech center until Tuesday,” he said. “We always would ask ourselves a question, even if we didn’t win -- do we want to turn this car around and use it? When we won here and it didn’t go to the tech center, we brought that car back. You know where the gaps are (in what) at that time was the valance, now it’s the splitter. And those heights are so critical. You’ll waste two or three runs on a new tire today, where you could use those runs to really fine-tune you race car. So you’d much rather bring that car back, I think.”
Instead, Johnson will pilot a new chassis. His backup car this weekend won a pair of events last season, on the 1.5-mile Texas track and at Charlotte in the Sprint All-Star Race.
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