In his past six starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Jimmie Johnson has only claimed one top-10 finish – a fifth last spring. Needless to say, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet is hoping for some success this weekend.
To be successful, the first step is qualifying. Well drivers can make their way to the front with ease on the restrictor plate tracks, qualifying is important for having a good pit stall selection.
“I don’t know what is going to exactly happen,” Johnson commented. “But to win the pole, you’re going to have to go out there and race. And the run that you can get on a group that it a football-field-or-two ahead of you, is so dramatic that I even think that a 10 or 12-car line won’t be as fast as somebody who falls way back in the pack and has a chance over a lap or two to pull up into the pack. So that’s what every driver is going to try to do. And setting that up is going to be tough because one, everybody is going to be trying it; and two, if you see someone behind you coming, why are you going to stay on the gas to help them? So, bailing out of the gas, breaking up the pack, and things like that are all possible.”
Johnson says as a result, the format has him asking himself a lot of questions as to what to do during hte qualifying session tomorrow – do you push it in qualifying to qualify well, or do not risk it and then risk tying to draft through the pack on Sunday.
The risk seems huge for Sunday due to the type of package that the drivers are faced with now in being in big packs and having to be aggressive to keep their position to be in contention near the end of the race. However, sometimes being there is tougher than it seems as a result of Talladega being wide with three, sometimes four lanes available.
“There’s much more of a revolving door from the front positions on back that there are more opportunities to go forward and also to come back,” he commented.
Back in the spring of 2011, Johnson was able to make it work as he won the race in a four-wide dash to the checkered flag line. As Johnson continues to search for his win to lock into the Chase, perhaps this weekend could be what he needs.