Johnson looks to continue plate dominance today at ‘Dega

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Jimmie Johnson missed out on an opportunity to take the lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup last weekend at Charlotte, but today’s race at Talladega Superspeedway could be another chance for him to do just that.

The five-time Cup champion, who sits four points behind Matt Kenseth going into today’s Camping World RV Sales 500, has been the class of the field at restrictor plate tracks this season. In February, he made a late charge to win his second Daytona 500, then finished fifth at ‘Dega in the spring before adding another triumph at Daytona in July.

It’s a much different string of results than the ones he had at plate tracks last year; he crashed out of the two Daytona events, lost an engine in the spring race at ‘Dega, and finished 17th in the fall race there.

Today’s race also marks a critical point in the Chase. In the past, Johnson has maintained that the true championship contenders will become clear following ‘Dega, and this week, he repeated the sentiment.

“I hope this trend of top 5 finishes stays alive in Talladega,” Johnson said. “That’s what we’re going to need. After Talladega, at that point, you can really race individuals [in the Chase].

“I think up until Talladega, you’re still racing the field and anything can happen and anybody has a chance. But leaving Talladega, you can really narrow in on who is left and what that spread is in points.”

Plate racing may be known for its variability, but as the Chase contenders prepare to face their biggest challenge of the post-season, Johnson is becoming as close to bankable as you can get in this particular discipline. Let’s see if his luck holds today.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.