NASCAR Pocono 2013: Jimmie Johnson motivates teams: 'Enjoy the pain. Let it hurt.'

Jared Wickerham

After a slow pit cost Jimmie Johnson a chance to win at Indianapolis, his message to his team was simply, "Enjoy the pain. Let it sit there. Let it hurt. Let it bother you."

A lengthy 17-second pit stop on his final stop of the day cost Jimmie Johnson any chance he had to win last weekend's Brickyard 400. It would have been understandable if he had lashed out at his team.

Instead, he chose his words carefully and chose a different method to motivate.

"I asked them to enjoy the pain," Johnson said Friday at Pocono Raceway. "Let it sit there. Let it hurt. Let it bother you."

Johnson is a believer in the mantra "you win as a team, you lose as a team." And he recognizes it wouldn't be fair for him to criticize his crew after he himself made mistakes at Dover and Kentucky that eliminated almost certain victory.

But he did have a request for his team as it prepared for Sunday's GoBowling.com 400.

"I asked them also to be fearless when they hopped off the wall this weekend and just do their jobs," Johnson said. "The worst thing any of us can do that have to go out and perform is to carry something in the back of your mind mentally.

"That will do more damage than you can ever imagine."

Despite owning four victories and holding a commanding 75-point lead in the standings, Johnson and his No. 48 team have been culpable of not executing this season. In addition to Johnson mistiming restarts at Dover and Kentucky, ill-advised pit strategy at Michigan let another potential win slip away.

And yet Johnson still leads all drivers in laps led (1,093), top 10s (14) and average finishing position (8.4) and is tied with Matt Kenseth for most victories (four).

"I feel like the team, the cars, our racing ability and the things needed to be dominant, it's right there if not a touch ahead of my best year where I think I won 10 races," Johnson said. "The difference is execution.

"We have left races sitting on the table. We have the foundation of (having) our most dominant year, but finishing it off and executing we have given up some races this year. That would be the only difference in it, the only thing that would kind of pull it back down."

Virtually guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, Johnson admits he's relaxed as the regular season winds down. His goal with just six races remaining before the Chase is to accumulate victories and secure the bonus points that go with winning. And beginning this weekend at Pocono, he should be able to do just that.

In the June race on the triangular-shaped track, Johnson was dominant. He started on the pole and led 128 of 160 laps en route to securing the win.

Although he won't have the same car this weekend -- that car was raced at Indy and there wasn't enough turnaround time -- Johnson is fully confident that he can replicate his performance.

If he can complete the Pocono sweep, it will be the second time this season Johnson will have done so, having already won both Daytona races.

"Pocono to me has always been a track that I felt a sweep is possible and easier to have a sweep here than other tracks just due to the calendar," Johnson said. "There is not a lot of time between the first race and the second race ... With the cool temperatures this weekend I'm not sure it's going to be much different than what we had in the spring.

"It would be awesome to have two sweeps in a year if that is possible this weekend."

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NASCAR’s NBC deal makes sense, despite risks

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