LOUDON, N.H. — Denny Hamlin won at his best track in the Chase for the Championship Sunday by leading 193 of 300 laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
With Dover International Speedway up next, now it’s Jimmie Johnson’s turn to feel confident.
But unlike Hamlin, Johnson wouldn’t guarantee a victory after finishing second in the Sylvania 300.
“You’ve still got to go run the race,” he said. “I certainly look at tracks where you want to capitalize. Certainly the 11 (Hamlin) looked at here. You have to have your best days.”
Johnson has a pair of second-place finishes in the first two playoff races, including Sunday at New Hampshire. And with a race at Dover next week, a track where he has six career wins – three of them coming in the Chase.
“You know, when you get to the Chase, you need to execute on your great tracks and get the results you should there, and then on your tracks that aren’t your best, you still have to have good days,” Johnson said.
“Leaving the track that’s been fair for me with above average finish and going to a track that I love next weekend, hope to get a great finish.”
Johnson leads Brad Keselowski by one point in the standings, while Hamlin is third, down by seven.
Defending series champion Tony Stewart is 10 points behind in fourth.
BRINGING THE HEAT: When the pit crews for six race teams had problems leaving Concord, N.C., early Sunday, they got a big assist from the Miami Heat.
All three crews for Richard Childress Racing, two teams for Stewart-Haas Racing and Furniture Row Racing – 67 in all – arrived at New Hampshire Motor Speedway 70 minutes before the start of the Sylvania 300.
“We never broke a sweat about it,” said Mike Dillon, director of competition at RCR. “We had a backup plan. Once we knew another plane would be in (Concord)by 9:30 a.m., we knew we’d be all right.”
The backup was the team jet for the NBA’s Miami Heat. The original charter was grounded with mechanical problems.
Miami Air sent another Boeing 737 from Orlando and it arrived at Concord by 9 a.m. That flight landed at the Laconia Municipal Airport two hours before the scheduled start.
BABY ON BOARD: Nine-day-old Katie Ann Hebert already was at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the second time in her young life Sunday, and if she wants, she can come back anytime for the rest of her life.
Hebert was born in the front parking lot Sept. 14 after her mother, Shawna Arnold, decided she couldn’t make it another 20 minutes to the Concord (N.H.) Hospital.
Her boyfriend Erik Hebert and his mother, all were trying to rush Arnold to the hospital when she started to deliver the baby one week before the track was scheduled to host a busy NASCAR racing weekend. They pulled into the parking lot thinking an ambulance would be close. EMTs were there and the baby was delivered without any complications.
To mark the event, speedway president Jerry Gappens presented Katie a certificate Sunday for two free tickets to every race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the rest of her life.