Jimmie Johnson closed out the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 at Iowa Speedway in fifth place, the best finish of his NTT IndyCar Series career to date.
Johnson proved his prowess for oval racing by wrangling a sixth-place finish in the XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing in sixth place and running toward the front of the field all day. Johnson likewise proved himself a force to be reckoned with at the Indianapolis 500 in May, earning Rookie of the Year honors and leading two laps during the pit cycle.
“This is a really special day for me, for everybody that’s been on this journey with me in the IndyCar Series,” Johnson told NBC’s Nate Ryan.
“It took me getting on the ovals to get my best finishes, and I’m so happy that I get to do it here today.”
When asked about the late-race battle that saw some close moments with Marcus Ericsson, Johnson wasn’t worried.
“I race my teammates with the most respect I possibly can,” Johnson reiterated.
“Every race I’ve been in, I’ve just given way. That was really the first time that I’ve fought for position and it’s because I felt like I should’ve been up there passing the No. 9 car… today I had it in me, I raced everybody clean and hard and just had an awesome day.”
Coming to this weekend’s (July 23-24) Iowa doubleheader, Johnson made waves by quickly adapting to Iowa’s tight turns and abrasive surface, running a much higher line than the rest of the pack and making several bold moves through the field. Johnson’s climb through the ranks may have lost momentum in the race’s final quarter, but 11th is still leagues above Johnson’s normal result,
Come Sunday, Johnson once again turned on the jets and made his presence undeniable.
Starting in 13th, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion advanced to seventh by lap 68 and to fourth by lap 91.
Coming to the race’s closing laps, Johnson was breathing down the neck of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Ericsson, who was running in fifth place.
Johnson shoved his way by Ericsson entering turn 1 with eight laps remaining and spent no more than half a lap working to defend from Ericsson before scooting away to collect a fifth-place result.
Johnson, who has performed markedly well on ovals this season, will have another shot to light some fireworks within the field when the NTT IndyCar Series visits World Wide Technology Raceway on Saturday, Aug. 20, for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500.
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