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Jimmie Johnson rails against shortened practice sessions: 'Not long enough'

JHby:Jonathan Howard04/13/24


Jimmie Johnson Texas
Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Seven-time is still having trouble trying to control this Next Gen car. Jimmie Johnson credits that in part to short practice sessions. NASCAR only has about 20 minutes of practice for drivers and teams, if they have practice at all anymore.

Since the COVID season in 2020, practice has been shortened. It’s been done to save money, at least that has been the best explanation. However, drivers and team owners are starting to get a little weary about this way of doing things.

Jimmie Johnson hit the wall in practice and while his team is working to get his car repaired, he didn’t post a qualifying lap. For a seven-time winner at Texas, it won’t be much fun trying to work through the field.

“Yeah without a doubt,” Johnson said about wanting longer practices, via Stephen Stumpf of Frontstretch. “The practices are not long enough to make a meaningful change to the car. It’s tough to develop – and I certainly understand and appreciate the effort for cost savings. … And it’s just really tough with how little track time there is for all teams to benefit [from] that. Because when you unload, that’s what you have.

“So, the bigger teams with more resources and, really resources far and wide, to unload on is where it’s at, and it affects the smaller teams that don’t have the access that they need that are trying to feed their pipeline and make good decisions, it’s just continues to make that a more challenging dynamic. And you think of new teams, new drivers , there’s just a lot of layers there that I think more track time would benefit.

“It doesn’t need to be like it once was where you have four hours of track time, but double the track time now if it was 40 minutes, 45 minutes, I think you could really help the field in its entirety be more efficient with their spending,” Johnson continued. “Because right now, you’re just throwing darts hoping you’re spending the right way on different things.”

NASCAR team owners are being more open about “cost savings.” It has gone too far in most cases. Jimmie Johnson and even Denny Hamlin have commented this year about these measures. While it was necessary a few years ago, things aren’t the same as they were in 2020.

Teams are starting to push back against NASCAR recently. The engine debate has raged on. Then there is the debate over tires. Short practices are going to be the next topic of discussion this season.

Johnson wasn’t the only driver with issues. Practice was a bit treacherous for the Cup Series. It isn’t as hot as last year, but it’s hot in Texas today. High 70s, and much hotter on the track. Kyle Busch found himself spinning around and into the wall harder than Johnson did.