After capturing his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 2013, Jimmie Johnson was set on earning a record-tying seventh crown in 2014.
But instead of making history, Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team were unable to hold on to their dominant form. They scored four wins in the spring, but a rough summer ultimately led to a second-round exit in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
When Johnson recalled what went wrong in 2014 to NASCAR AMERICA’s Dave Burns, he noted that several hallmarks of the No. 48’s previous titles were missing.
“There are some things I’m not so proud and [crew chief] Chad [Knaus] is not so proud of,” Johnson said. “The lack of team unity, the lack of a team performing in harmony as we should – those were all strong suits of the 48 and those were the things that led us to our championships…People tried to mimic what we had and what we did.
“We didn’t do that last year and I truly feel within that is where the performance comes.”
For more on Johnson’s thoughts about the upcoming 2015 season, the retirement of Jeff Gordon, and his own “indicators” for when he’ll consider hanging up his helmet, check out his full interview with Burns at the top.
Scott Dixon was fastest on the second day of Indy 500 practice Thursday, turning a lap at 226.102 mph in his No. 9 Dallara-Honda at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Takuma Sato was second, followed by Marco Andretti, Conor Daly and rookie Alex Palou.
The rest of the top 10 were: Colton Herta, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Fernando Alonso and James Davison.
THURSDAY PRACTICE: Click here for Day 2 speeds at Indianapolis
COMBINED SPEEDS: Click here for the overall speeds from the first two days
The session had one incident as Alonso crashed with just less than an hour left in the session. The Arrow McLaren SP driver was optimistic that the car could be repaired without a backup.
Among the other notables on the speed chart Thursday: Ryan Hunter-Reay (11th); Tony Kanaan (14th); Helio Castroneves (16th); Josef Newgarden (18th); Graham Rahal (19th); Will Power (23rd); Alexander Rossi (26th) and defending race winner Simon Pagenaud (27th).
Felix Rosenqvist (24th) and rookie Dalton Kellett turned the most laps (141) around the 2.5-mile oval.
Teams mostly focused on race setup Thursday as they will receive 80 extra horsepower in the “Fast Friday” practice that will feature speeds above 230 mph for qualifying Saturday and Sunday.
The Indy 500 will take place Aug. 23; coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on NBC with the green flag at 2:30 p.m.
HOW TO WATCH THE INDY 500 ON NBC: Details for the Aug. 23 race
DAILY INDY 500 SCHEDULE: Click here for all on-track activity in August at Indy