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Johnson Not Fan Of Kenseth’s Down Low Moves

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 30 2014

Jimmie Johnson had to overcome blocking actions at Charlotte Motor Speedway last Sunday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

DOVER, Del.– When Jimmie Johnson chased down Matt Kenseth in the final laps of Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, the defending Sprint Cup champion wasn’t exactly shocked when the driver of the No. 20 Toyota threw a block in an attempt to retain the lead.

He was, however, slightly surprised that Kenseth nearly drove him to the apron as the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet scored the winning pass.

Kensethsaid Friday at Dover International Speedway he was simply trying to slow Johnson’s momentum.

It turns out the maneuver didn’t work after Johnson motored away for the win.

“I hadn’t been run down the straightaway low like that before, but once we got low enough where I kind of knew ‘this is about as far as I want to go,’ Matt kind of held his line at that point,” said Johnson, who added that he’s fine with blocking everywhere on the race track except on corner entry. “We were about off the track, but again its racing. It’s the end of the (Coca-Cola) 600, it’s the end of the race and you expect people to race you real hard.

“I wasn’t totally shocked and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to go by the No. 20 car. There was no way that was going to happen.”

Joey Logano will tie a NASCAR Nationwide Series record if he’s the first driver to see the checkered flag in Saturday’s Buckle Up 200. The Middletown, Conn. native has visited victory lane in each of his four most-recent starts in NASCAR’s junior circuit at the one-mile oval.

“This has been a great race track for me,” Logano said. “It is one of my favorite race tracks because of the success here. To be in that group of guys that have won five races at a row at a race track with Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Busch and Jack Ingram, it would be an honor to be there.

“This is definitely my favorite track and it is close to home for me. I grew up in Connecticut and we aren’t too far down the road from there. This is a neat place to run at.”

Five days after soldiering through 400 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon said his aching back is feeling much better.

Unlike last weekend when he had Regan Smith on standby as a relief driver, Gordon indicated he’s good to go for Sunday’s 400 lap race in Dover.

“I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent, but I’m back closer to normal which is (back) aggravation. I’m still feeling some effects of last week but I’m not feeling any sharp pains. So that’s good.

“I got a lot of rest and ice this week. I was pretty sore on Tuesday after the long 600. But that’s not unusual. So I feel good for this weekend.”

Ward Burton, the 2002 Daytona champion, played the role of proud father in the Dover International Speedway media center Friday morning as his son Jeb Burton, officially unveiled Richmond, Va.-based Estes Express Lines as the new sponsor of his No. 13 Toyota Tundra in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series.

The second generation has struggled to maintain corporate sponsorship throughout his brief NASCAR career. The deal with Estes seemed to offer a fresh breath of air as Burton addressed the press.

“Everything happens for a reason,” said the 21-year-old Jeb Burton, who posted two top 10 finishes in the first four Truck Series races this season. “We’re trying to be patient, keep building and get better each week. And, hopefully, our results will start picking up and things will move a little bit faster now.

An avid runner, Johnson is a regular on the jogging trails and paths around NASCAR tracks each weekend.

The six-time Sprint Cup champion said he’s figured out how to cope with eager fans who want a piece of his time while he’s out on foot.

“Most of them have got to catch me first and they’re usually not sober enough or in shape enough to do that,” Johnson said with a laugh. “I’ll get up early at sunrise, that’s usually the most fun. You run up and down Talladega Blvd. Texas is good for it. There’s a variety of tracks where an early morning run is more entertaining than it is a workout.

“You see people halfway in their tents and still passed out in lawn chairs and all kinds of good things. In the afternoons, I’ll run this afternoon, usually people see me coming, they think; and as they go by they’ll say, ‘Hey Jimmie, is that you?’ And I’ll wave and give them a thumbs-up or something and keep on digging. Guys on bikes and golf carts can run you down. But they’re usually pretty good about it.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 30 2014
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