Timing is everything, and so it was with Jimmie Johnson's visit to Philly Thursday. Coming on the heels of a two-week-in-a-row run-in with teammate Jeff Gordon on the track, Johnson had no problem admitting he made a mistake, trying to pick up Gordon in the draft, but changing lanes too soon.
Turn signals? Not on these cars.
Here are some notes from Johnson's session with the media Thursday:
HARD TO SEE
Johnson explained that one of the issues for drivers with these newer cars, combined with the HANS devices the drivers where for safety, is that it is difficult for drivers to see where they are in relation to others cars. The driver sits a little more in the middle of the car, which makes seeing how close you are to other cars more difficult. That means a driver is depending almost solely on the spotter, who stands high above the track. So, if the spotter is just a second off, or if the driver misinterprets what the spotter is saying, that's a formula for an accident.
Johnson had a question and answer session with fans before meeting with the media. One question was, "who is your favorite driver." Being no dummy, Johnson answered, "Jeff Gordon."
Johnson says Mark Martin has had a big positive influence on the Hendrick team. Martin shows up early for meetings, knows what to say and when to say it, and is legendary for keeping in excellent physical condition, an area Johnson says he has improved on greatly since Martin came on board last season.
Johnson, the four-time defending champion, says one challenger is Denny Hamlin. He noted the Gibbs Racing team has an excellent driver-crew chief combination with Mike Ford and Hamlin, with good equipment and enough experience to know how to win, and improve if they are not winning.
OK, on to my top 5 predictions for Richmond:
Last week's picks and finishes:
Jimmie Johnson: 31st after getting caught in accident
Kurt Busch: Solid finish in 8th
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Ended at 13th
Carl Edwards: Hung in there for an 11th
Kevin Harvick: 1st: The exact words were, "has a knack for being there at the end on these tracks.'' So, of course, he wins by about foot on a pass in the final quarter-mile.
1. Denny Hamlin: He always runs well at home and knows how to finish
2. Jeff Burton: Another Virginia guy who wants to do well at home
3. Tony Stewart: Due for a win and he's good on short tracks
4. Jeff Gordon: He's going to win one soon. His car has been too good.
5. Kyle Busch: He's too good not to contend for a win at Richmond.