pcloudy.png
Thursday June 20th, 2019 5:51PM

Can Hendrick fix aero issues Johnson found at Vegas?

By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service

AVONDALE, Ariz. – During the opening laps of last Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson looked like the driver who has won 83 races and a record-tying seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships.

Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was running in the top five, suggesting that Johnson and crew chief Kevin Meendering might have a car capable of challenging for the win.

But as Johnson lost positions, the handling of his Chevy got positively evil and revealed a problem Hendrick has to solve to make its cars consistently competitive.

“We were very aggressive with the set-up of our car,” Johnson said on Friday afternoon at ISM Raceway before qualifying 15th for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500. “I think once we took consistent air off the top of it, it just started bouncing and went haywire. That thing was bouncing all over the place once I got to like 15th or 20th on the track.”

The challenge is to find a setup that is fast in clean air without being out of control in the dirty air a car encounters mid-pack. At Las Vegas, Johnson finished 19th, the first car one lap down.

“As hard as we try, when the car’s performance is based on over-body downforce, you are never going to change the fact that the leader has better air. I don’t think it matters how big the spoiler is which throws air up higher and then you’ve got these (front drag) ducts that throws it out wider.”

“The way we create downforce is tough. It’s tough to have that consistent downforce in traffic. It’s just the way it is.”

To win a record eighth championship, Johnson and his team will have to master the idiosyncrasies of the new rules package. In the past, the ability to adapt to new challenges has been one of Hendrick’s hallmarks.

“I’ll race whatever they bring,” Johnson said. “I’m here to figure out whatever the rules package is, and I’ve been doing this long enough to have a lot of downforce, no downforce, a lot of power, no power. We have not gotten off to the start that we expected to.”

“Atlanta (a 24th-place result), was pretty rough for us. Vegas we had a lot more speed in the car, but when I lost track position as the race wore on, my car was pretty evil to drive. We are learning each and every step. We have been off to a good start here in Phoenix. I know it’s way different than that other package, but we’re learning as we go, and we just have to do a better job and get better.”

Logano Says Comfort Level With New Rules Is Still Miles Away

The start of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season has brought a smorgasbord of new competition configurations matched widely different surfaces at dramatically different tracks.

Team Penske has gotten the early upper hand with the new rules, with Brad Keselowski winning at Atlanta, Joey Logano following with a victory at Las Vegas and Ryan Blaney snaring the pole position for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway.

But Logano believes confidence in the new package is still a relatively distant goal.

“Probably not until we get to the track the second time,” said Logano, who was fastest in Saturday’s final practice with a lap at 137.794 mph. “I think we won’t take off as far off, like even when you go to maybe a Texas for the first time, it won’t be as far off as when we went to Atlanta the first time.”

“But when you go to Texas the second time, you’re going to pretty much have a really good idea of what you need, especially after you go through a race once and you realize, ‘OK, this is most important. I need this in my car.’”

Fords Dominate Happy Hour On Eve Of First “Short-Track” Race

Joey Logano topped Saturday’s final practice at ISM Raceway, running 137.794 mph on his sixth lap in the session. Team Penske teammate and pole winner Ryan Blaney was second fastest at 137.221 mph.

With nine-time Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick third and Aric Almirola and Brad Keselowski fifth and sixth, respectively, Ford drivers occupied five of the top six positions on the speed chart. Kyle Busch was the only interloper, posting the fourth quickest lap (136.431 mph) in the sessions best Toyota.

Despite suffering from a lingering cold, Jimmie Johnson was seventh in the fastest Chevrolet.

Though ISM Raceway is a mile long, drivers routinely refer to it as a short track because of the way their cars drive on the relatively flat configuration. Phoenix is the first race of the season that will feature engines that can generate 750 horsepower, thanks to wider openings in the tapered spacers that limit airflow to the power plants.

WDUN will carry live MRN radio coverage of Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ticket Guardian 500 from ISM Raceway beginning at 2:30 on WDUN 102.9 FM, AM 550 or streaming live on AccessWDUN.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
ISM Raceway – Avondale, AZ
TicketGuardian 500 – March 10, 2019

Sunday’s Starting Lineup

1. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 141.287 mph.
2. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 140.171 mph.
3. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 140.007 mph.
4. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 139.855 mph.
5. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 139.849 mph.
6. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 139.768 mph.
7. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 139.567 mph.
8. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 139.411 mph.
9. (19) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 139.206 mph.
10. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 138.991 mph.
11. (8) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 138.846 mph.
12. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 138.664 mph.
13. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 138.867 mph.
14. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 138.803 mph.
15. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 138.803 mph.
16. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 138.766 mph.
17. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 138.739 mph.
18. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 138.696 mph.
19. (17) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 138.520 mph.
20. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 138.435 mph.
21. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 138.329 mph.
22. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 137.452 mph.
23. (43) Darrell Wallace, Jr., Chevrolet, 136.939 mph.
24. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 136.830 mph.
25. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 136.804 mph.
26. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 136.560 mph.
27. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 136.514 mph.
28. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 136.472 mph.
29. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 136.457 mph.
30. (36) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 136.307 mph.
31. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 134.786 mph.
32. (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 134.444 mph.
33. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 133.388 mph.
34. (51) Cody Ware #, Chevrolet, 129.636 mph.
35. (77) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 125.672 mph.
36. (52) Bayley Currey(i), Ford, 0.000 mph.

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, Monster Cup
  • Associated Tags: nascar, motorsports, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Asphalt, Motorsports Live On WDUN, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
After women play and kids compete, Masters comes into view
Only when Nick Faldo took a break after playing nine holes Sunday at Augusta National did he look different.
8:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
Swanson, catcher's interference call help Braves top Marlins
Dansby Swanson hit a game-ending single against a five-man infield and the Atlanta Braves, helped by a catcher's interference call, beat the Miami Marlins 4-3
5:25PM ( 4 hours ago )
Kyle Busch rebounds for Cup Series victory at Bristol
It came down to a call not to pit that gave Kyle Busch the win on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
5:08PM ( 5 hours ago )
Updated
Sports
Sato victorious in near-flawless performance at Barber
Takuma Sato drove flawlessly – almost – to win the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and throw his name firmly into the NTT IndyCar Series championship conversation.
8:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
Blaney hopes to transform early season speed into wins
The speed has been present nearly every race. There is no disputing that, as Ryan Blaney has had a fast car capable of contending in all seven Monster Energy NASCAR...
8:00AM ( 1 day ago )
Chase Elliott scores NASCAR Cup Series pole at Bristol
Forget about the superspeedways. Chase Elliott roared to his first pole of the season Friday, capturing the No. 1 starting spot for Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
10:10PM ( 2 days ago )
NASCAR News
PODCAST: Hard Left Turn - Denny Hamlin tames Texas
Denny Hamlin bounced back from a pair of pit road penalties to score his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
11:00PM ( 5 days ago )
Denny Hamlin's Texas victory was quite the feat
Conventional wisdom suggests one pit road penalty can be overcome, but two pit road penalties is something a driver and team generally cannot recover from...
5:46PM ( 6 days ago )
All four Stewart-Haas cars finish strong at Texas
Stewart-Haas Racing enjoyed its best results of 2019. For the second race this season — and the second time on an intermediate track — all four SHR Fords finished in the top 10.
6:00AM ( 6 days ago )
Monster Cup
Around The Track Results and Points Standings Page
The latest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series race results.
By AccessWDUN
7:11PM ( 3 hours ago )
Kyle Busch rebounds for Cup Series victory at Bristol
It came down to a call not to pit that gave Kyle Busch the win on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Updated
5:08PM ( 5 hours ago )
Daniel Hemric has family ties to the hardwood
Many NASCAR competitors can trace their racing roots to family members, those from a generation or so removed who raced on either the local or national stage.
By Kenny Bruce-NASCAR Wire Service
6:00AM ( 16 hours ago )
Bell rings up Bristol win for Xfinity Dash 4 Cash bonus
Christopher Bell earned his first career Bristol Motor Speedway victory and a $100,000 bonus with the Xfinity Series win Saturday.
By Kenny Bruce-NASCAR Wire Service
3:53PM ( 1 day ago )
Blaney hopes to transform early season speed into wins
The speed has been present nearly every race. There is no disputing that, as Ryan Blaney has had a fast car capable of contending in all seven Monster Energy NASCAR...
By Jordan Bianchi-NASCAR Wire Service
8:00AM ( 1 day ago )