Darlington: Jimmie Johnson preview

Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series travel to Darlington Raceway this weekend for Saturday's eleventh race of the 2007 season and the fifth race for the Impala SS "Car of Tomorrow." Johnson owns four and his Hendrick ...

Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series travel to Darlington Raceway this weekend for Saturday's eleventh race of the 2007 season and the fifth race for the Impala SS "Car of Tomorrow." Johnson owns four and his Hendrick Motorsports team owns seven victories in the first ten races including a sweep of the four "Car of Tomorrow" races. After last weekend's victory at Richmond, Johnson is second in points trailing leader Jeff Gordon by 211 points. It was his 27th career victory, putting him in sole possession of 22nd place on the all-time victory list. Johnson owns two victories at Darlington.

DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:

DARLINGTON: "Darlington is one of the most challenging tracks in NASCAR, and I love it. It has everything you want in a track. Everyone knows its history, plus it's such a challenge to run well. The race starting out in daylight and ending at night only adds to it. When I started my career I said Darlington is one of the places where I would really like to win and that hasn't changed."

SURPRISE AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS' COT SUCCESS: "In some ways I am surprised that we've been able to win as many races as we have. We've had a lot of great competition from other teams but we put a lot into the current car, our restrictor plate programs and also into the "Car of Tomorrow." So I am surprised to see, at the end of the day, Hendrick is still at the front and we're taking trophies. I've been real proud of my team. Our pit stops just get stronger throughout the day, Chad's amazing with strategy and not getting us into a hole, and we keep making the car better. We've done a great job finishing races and I think that's why, as a whole, Hendrick has been getting to victory lane so much."

ON WHY HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAS WON SEVEN OF EIGHT RACES: "We're not exactly sure ourselves. We put a lot of hard work into everything and we're happy to see it working as it is right now. You think back to Roush and what they did a year or so ago and then times change and it's tough to stay on top. We're motivated because we're afraid times will change and think we'll get caught behind. This is what Rick Hendrick visualized when he started the first two-car team. You may remember comments 'We don't want to unravel this thing. We've worked too hard to put it together to get to this point.' Rick really has been driving that and us working together and us doing all these things. You just can't wave a magic wand over it and get it working. All 560 employees have to buy into it and drivers and crew chiefs probably lead the brigade. We've had tense moments racing with Jeff (Gordon), Kyle (Busch) and Casey (Mears) but still the drivers and crew chiefs have shown the company that we need to keep pulling the same direction and it keeps working."

CREW CHIEF CHAD KNAUS ON DARLINGTON: "I think Darlington is going to throw a bunch of challenges out there for everybody. It's going to be unique. It's a tire that we haven't raced with at that track before. Obviously we have a different race car that hasn't raced there before. But we are very, very proud we've got the drivers that know how to go out there and race that kind of race. Darlington is probably Jimmie's strongest race track just because it suits his driving style so well. Jeff is a great driver at that race track. The key to that place is going to be to go out there run the entire fuel run and keeping the car out of the wall. I know that sounds very old fashioned but that's kind of the way it is. You've got to keep the car out of the wall and you've got to keep the car underneath you."

NOTES

Chassis

* Johnson will drive chassis 413 at Darlington. This car finished 16th at Bristol. Backup chassis 419 has yet to race.

Darlington Raceway

* In eight starts, Johnson has completed 2,715 of 2,717 laps. He owns an average starting spot of 9.4 and average finish of 7.2. He has led 363 laps at Darlington.

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports