Jimmie Johnson had a great start to the 2016 season. In the first 10 races, he had two wins and six top-10s. However, in the next nine leading up to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Johnson had a slew of bad runs that resulted in three DNFs due to wrecks, and only one top-10 finish. Johnson may have found a shift in momentum following a third-place finish in the Brickyard 400, though.
Johnson’s race wasn’t all roses as he had to fight through issues during the day. The No. 48 team led by crew chief Chad Knaus started 13th at Indy, and ran outside the top-10 for a portion of the event. Johnson eventually made his way inside the top-10, but a pit road speeding penalty early in the race put the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet back in the running order.
“We’ve been working really hard to get our cars where they need to be,” Johnson said. “We’re still not happy, but we’re getting closer. I’m very proud of the effort today. Unfortunately a mistake on my part in that second segment, trying to get in the pits I got dinged for speeding and then rallied from like 24th back. So, I’m just very proud of this race team and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and I’m very proud to run this red car and represent all the men and women who work in Lowe’s stores all around the country. We got third but I wish we would have gotten a win.
“Well I think we were definitely a top five car,” he explained. “I got into the top five and then I got caught speeding on pit road. I’ve got to look and see exactly what happened. I think I might have been released a little bit early into a segment to speed into my pit box and we got dinged on that. Unfortunate there, but these guys kept their heads down, worked hard, we got very lucky with the caution after we pitted so we could get the wave by. From that point on we have had a great car they were just mired in traffic trying to get back. I had a little bit of motivation and was able to get three or four spots there at the end.”
Johnson’s top-five finish was his first top-10 finish since the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend. It’s been a rough string of races for Johnson, but he hasn’t been the only Hendrick Motorsports driver struggling. Over the past three races before the Brickyard, no Hendrick driver has finished in the top-10. Though he was the only Hendrick driver to place inside the top-10 at Indy, the finish could be a turning point for the four-car team.