NASCAR: Live from Pocono

Leading a race-high 70 laps at Indianapolis did a lot to bolster Kahne's confidence heading to Pocono, where he won this race a year ago.

"To lead a lot of laps at Indianapolis and run up front throughout the whole race was good for my confidence," Kahne said. "What I liked the most about the entire weekend was the team stepped up. It was the first time of the season we have put a full race together.

"From me driving, to them on pit road, to pit calls, everything about it was right. That is something that we haven't done this year. We haven't even come close to doing that. It was a big weekend for all of us, and we got some momentum out of it, some confidence, I think, on all of our parts. Hopefully, we can carry that into this weekend and especially Sunday."

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Summer swoon for No. 48?

By Mark Ashenfelter

With four Brickyard 400 wins, Jimmie Johnson was among the favorites last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Then they waved the green flag.

While he avoided the wrecked race cars that left him 42nd at both Daytona and Loudon, Johnson was a nonfactor as he finished 14th. Since winning at Michigan in June, he's led just one lap in the last five races, that coming on the road course at Sonoma.

Johnson
Johnson

Johnson is at his best early in the season and during the Chase; one key ingredient is that the Sprint Cup Series season begins and ends at many of the same tracks.

"The summer stretch has been tough on us. It always has," Johnson said Friday at Pocono Raceway. "There have been years that we make it through a little smoother than others. This year has been as inconsistent as probably any of them for us.

"So we certainly want to stop that and start here with a very smooth weekend and successful weekend, and carry that on through The Glen and Bristol, that's a tough track for us. There are still a few challenges ahead. But literally, when the Chase starts, we roll into our 10 best tracks. So we're trying to maintain sanity until then and obviously keep progressing our cars through the end of summer."

Under crew chief Chad Knaus, the No. 48 team has always been ahead of the curve, and that may explain the struggles last week at Indy. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who shares a shop with Johnson's team, was ninth and also an afterthought compared to teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne, who share the other shop at Hendrick Motorsports.

Johnson said his team focused on trying to maximize its speed via its aero package at Indy, while Gordon and Kahne took a different approach. Sure, teams share info, but Johnson said he's not that worried about what worked for his teammates.

"We've built speed in our cars and have won races and championships by a certain mindset. And it's not been by looking and digging through others' information and looking over our shoulder at what somebody else is doing," Johnson said. "It's always about pushing technology and trying to find an advantage.

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