Johnson Climbs to the Top

Jimmie Johnson

Johnson survived the wild last lap of Sunday’s second road race of the year to come home third behind winner Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski. (Photo: Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson finds himself back on top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after his third-place finish in Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen.

Johnson survived the wild last lap of Sunday’s second road race of the year to come home third behind winner Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski. With misfortune suffered by other drivers including Dale Earnhardt Jr., who entered Watkins Glen leading the standings, Johnson is back on top of the Sprint Cup Series mountain.

“Excited to be leading the points,” said Johnson. “Whoever the team is, I really believe they get some much-needed experience with the pressure of the points lead late in the season. It's just different than leading at any other point in time. I look forward to the pressure on my team and myself.

“Every little thing we can do to get prepared for the Chase is helpful. This is another step in that direction. Excited about that.”

Johnson wasn’t completely excited about how Sunday’s race finished at Watkins Glen International. The five-time series champion was one of several drivers who felt NASCAR should have thrown a caution flag because of oil on the racetrack.

“Those last two laps were just out of control with the oil down,” said Johnson. “You are studying the road trying to see if you can see an oil trail and there really wasn’t a large visible one to dodge. But you could feel the oil on your tires and slipping and sliding and then guys are spinning all over.

“It was chaos, but I’m glad we got back to the finish line, finished third very solid day for this Lowe’s team. I just can’t thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports enough for their hard work.”

While Johnson contends the situation was not the best considering the conditions, he was still proud of the effort as well as the exciting racing that ended Sunday’s second road course race of the season.

“Those last two laps, next to the last lap was really the most difficult because we were discovering where the oil was,” said Johnson. “The white flag lap I made some good adjustments, except turn 11, to dodge the oil. Slipped pretty bad, almost crashed. The 15 and a few others were coming quick at that point. Just a wild last couple laps.

“In general I thought the racing was really good. Our cars work good around here. Even with the strategy we had today, I had to pass a lot of cars, and seemed like a lot of good racing everywhere.”

So Johnson heads to next week’s Michigan International Speedway return with the number one spot in the standings. He feels the experience of the Watkins Glen weekend as well as June’s run at Sonoma will be beneficial in the No. 48 team’s quest to win a sixth Sprint Cup Series title.

“I'm proud of the last two days I had,” he said. “I feel like Jimmie Johnson with the cars I've had on road courses as of late. You know, just a good couple of days. Happy with the runs.

“Obviously would have liked to have one more position in both of them. We were very, very close. Trying to keep in perspective how far we've come as a team. To run this competitively on road courses is something I'm very proud of.”

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