FORT WORTH, TX – 2019 has been a struggle for HMS. That comes after a struggling season in 2018 too. But, after the west coast swing, everyone warned that they’d need to get back to the east coast shops to make adjustments.
Texas would be the real race to see how much everyone has learned thus far. If that is indeed true, then HMS could have a rebounding season after all.
Jimmie Johnson led more laps on Sunday than he did all of last year in a fifth place effort in his No. 48 Chevrolet. He led 60 laps in all in Sunday’s race and earned his third top 10 of the season.
I wrote earlier in the week on how after Johnson’s struggling day in Martinsville, then this may be who he really is now. If he couldn’t perform at Texas, a track that he’s had so much success at in the past, then they’d be toast.
He leaves with some momentum now.
“We are definitely moving in the right direction,” said an elated Johnson after just his seventh top five finish in his last 79 races. “Car was good in clean air and had a lot of speed in it, so I think we have found kind of center for our cars and what has to happen. It was a little evil in traffic, and I had a heck of a time on green flag restarts, but really worked hard to get it up underneath me and tightening the car up a little bit for us to race. Ended up having great pace and decent drivability, so are working in the right direction. I am just so proud of everybody on this Ally team. We’ve had a lot of pressure on us, and everyone has stepped up and getting it done.”
Johnson, was fastest in practice on Friday and ended a 96 race pole drought in earning the Busch Pole Award for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. In Saturday’s lone practice session of the day, he was fifth in the session on single lap runs but fastest on the 10 lap, 15 lap and 20 lap averages too.
He wasn’t the only driver that was strong either.
Second year driver William Byron finished sixth in his No. 24 Chevrolet for his first top 10 result of the year. Byron, started second and led 15 laps himself.
Chase Elliott led 35 laps but finished 13th in his No. 9 Chevrolet.
Alex Bowman had some speed on Friday but when he crashed in qualifying, his whole weekend changed. He’d bring his No. 88 Chevrolet home 18th.
While they didn’t win, they did combine to lead 110 laps and put two cars in the top six. That’s a strong start.