"The element of truly having a conversation with someone and understanding how tight the car might be, or how uncomfortable you might be [with the handling], that element is so vital," Johnson said. "And when somebody is in North Carolina and the others are at the track, it's impossible to get that pulled together."
By Mark Ashenfelter
As Matt Kenseth sat down in the media center at Pocono Raceway, it was mentioned that the room had recently been repainted. Kenseth replied that he wasn't familiar enough with the room to notice.
With just three top-5s and 10 top-10s in 29 starts at NASCAR's most distinct track, he wasn't joking. Still looking for the win that would lock him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Kenseth knows he won't be among the favorites come Sunday afternoon.
In three Pocono starts with Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth hasn't finished better than 22nd. The good news is that he's a solid fourth in points and a strong candidate to make the Chase on points assuming five other winless drivers this season don't notch a victory in the next six weeks.
Kenseth thinks all of JGR has picked up the pace of late, but that's no guarantee things will go his way at Pocono. Some races he's run well here, but circumstances have led to a mediocre finish. Other times, he just hasn't been competitive on the 2.5-mile triangular layout.
"I guess naturally you're better at some places than others. Maybe it's the track you struggle a little bit more at or you've got to work harder at or your feedback is not as good or whatever," Kenseth said. "I feel like when our cars run good, all three [JGR teams] seem to run pretty good no matter what the track is. We seem to be able to help each other and feed off each other and get running better."
It's been a frustrating season for JGR as Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have just one win apiece. Hamlin is without crew chief Darian Grubb this weekend as he begins serving a six-race suspension following a violation at Indianapolis.
The JGR trio finished second, third and fourth at Indy, and Kenseth sees things continuing to trend in the right direction.
"I think whenever you run good really anywhere except maybe a superspeedway, it gives you confidence going into next week even if it's a totally different kind of racetrack," Kenseth said. "I feel like at Loudon all three of us had top-5 cars, and we all ran well at Kentucky. We all ran well last weekend, and those are all very different racetracks. So it gives you some hope that in general and on average you're getting your stuff better, and it's getting faster, and we seem to be gaining on it toward the right time of the year."
By Mark Ashenfelter