Charlotte II: Jimmie Johnson preview

This weekend Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 travel to Lowe's Motor Speedway for Saturday night's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. The race near Charlotte, N.C. marks the fifth of ten 2006 "Chase for the Championship" races. Johnson is...

This weekend Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 travel to Lowe's Motor Speedway for Saturday night's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. The race near Charlotte, N.C. marks the fifth of ten 2006 "Chase for the Championship" races. Johnson is 8th in the points, 156 behind leader Jeff Burton.

Johnson has won five points races and two non-points races at Lowe's. His No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet will carry a special paint scheme this weekend commemorating Lowe's 60th anniversary. Last weekend Johnson battled for the lead until a final lap wreck left him with a 24th-place finish. On Monday Johnson tested the "Car of Tomorrow" at Talladega.

Johnson will also drive the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Busch car in Friday night's race. Johnson finished 7th at Lowe's on May 27 and 21st at California Speedway on Sept. 2 in his only other Busch Series appearances in 2006.

DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:

ON HIS EXPECTATIONS GOING TO LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY: "My expectations are high. I'm looking forward to the race. We're going to run the Busch car and the Cup car, so I'll get a lot of extra time on the track with the Busch car that weekend. I'm real curious, and I'm sure everyone is, as to how the track is going to be. We've had some time and some other things have gone on at the track. Is the track going to be as tough to get a hold of when the sun's out or not? I think those are questions we're going to have answered here shortly. But I'm excited for it. In May we ran well and finished second to (Kasey Kahne) and won the All-Star event. We're taking back the car that won the All-Star event, so I feel very good about those things. We ran that car last at Kansas and had an awesome race with it. So I feel good about it. I'm excited about it."

WHAT IS MOOD OF THE TEAM AFTER TALLADEGA? "Well, we were definitely disappointed. We felt like we had a chance to close up a lot on the points in the championship battle and we hate that an opportunity passed us by. I'm definitely happy for the No. 25 team and for those guys to win a race. I actually feel it was a racing incident on the race track. I hate that we missed an opportunity, but I don't feel it was an intentional situation. It was just kind of a racing deal. So, we go on. What else can we do?"

ANY THOUGHTS TO STAY IN LINE RUN SECOND AT TALLADEGA? "No, I knew that the points, that it was going to be a great day. I really felt like sitting in second spot was the prime position. And sitting in that position at the end of the race, I mean you've got victory written all over it. So I really felt like the way the draft started and everybody was single file at the top of the race track, I was just sitting there drooling (laughs) waiting for my chance on the white flag lap. And everything led into the right scenario for me to get to victory lane and that's what my eyes were on. And I didn't do anything risky. I didn't do anything that put me in jeopardy. I got hit from behind. I wouldn't change anything that I did. Obviously, looking back, somebody was going to make a run. The No. 25 was going to try to get behind me and I would have ended up third or try to win the race. I really felt the worst I was going to be was third, but felt the chances were in my favor to win and unfortunately I didn't make it back to the start/finish line."

HOW DO YOU THINK THE CAR OF TOMORROW IS GOING TO WORK OUT?

"Well the test was interesting to know that we had the one and only car, which is NASCAR's plan where you only need one kind of car to take to all the tracks. I was anxious to get on the track to see how it drove and what it would be like. Once we got out there and got the plate and the gearing situated, the car really drove well; and we got a package at the end of the day, which was a lot like the racing that we have now. So I was encouraged with that. It's definitely a different race car. It drafts differently. It does require different things that what our current car does. For me, it was an educational day and a successful test overall for NASCAR."

Race Notes

Lowe's Motor Speedway

* Johnson has completed 3.406 of 3,548 laps in his ten starts at Lowe's. He has an average starting position of 8.0 and an average finish of 6.2. He has led 884 laps in nine of his ten races. He owns two poles and five victories at in point's races at Lowe's.

Chase

* Johnson is one of three drivers to participate in all three "Chase" battles. He finished second in the 2004 "Chase" and fifth last year. This will be Johnson's fifth consecutive season finishing in the top ten in points.

* Johnson owns six "Chase" victories -- the most of any driver -- and led 539 laps but suffered five finishes outside the top 30 in his 23 career "Chase" races.

Year

* Johnson was the point leader after all but four races in the 26-race regular season.

Lowe's May Race

* Johnson started third but spent the first half of the race running with the leaders but never showing just how good the Lowe's car was on the new pavement at the 1.5-mile oval he has dominated in recent history. Then when the sun began to sink behind the front stretch grandstand and the lights grew brighter at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Johnson came to life. He began picking off the leaders even taking the lead briefly in the final laps but eventually Kasey Kahne pulled away and took the checkered flag before Johnson could catch the second-year driver. Johnson finished second.

-credit: hms/lowes

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne