Daytona 500: Jimmie Johnson preview

The season-opening Daytona 500 takes place Sunday night at Daytona International Speedway. But first, the starting line up must be set with Thursday afternoon's 150-mile qualifying events. Team Lowe's Racing driver Jimmie Johnson will line up ...

The season-opening Daytona 500 takes place Sunday night at Daytona International Speedway. But first, the starting line up must be set with Thursday afternoon's 150-mile qualifying events.

Team Lowe's Racing driver Jimmie Johnson will line up third in the first of two 60-lap duels.

The reigning Sprint Cup Series champion hopes to grab his second victory at the famed 2.5-mile oval when he takes the green flag Sunday. He took top honors in the 2006 event.

JIMMIE JOHNSON:

IS IT TRUE THERE'S NEVER ANY EQUALITY AT DAYTONA? "I don't know. The longer I go, I don't know. I kind of went through a deal where I made a bunch of mistakes then I was in a sweet spot for a while and won a couple of plate races and now I can't finish in the top-10 and I don't know why.

"Here handling is much more important than Talladega and I think starting position is going to be much more important than what we've seen in the past. With the race starting during the daylight hours, you might remember last year's race got so spread out. I think the car can carry you through a lot of the experience here especially if it's one of the top two or three cars."

HAS THE 'NO TESTING' POLICY HAD A BIG EFFECT SO FAR WITH THE SHOOTOUT AND QUALIFYING? "No, the Shootout was just hard racing. It was just guys racing hard for every inch. In the 500, you won't see people racing that hard that early. I think in the daytime it's going to be single file. But once things close up at night, it's going to be a lot like Saturday's race."

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT YOU COME OUT AND ARE AS GOOD AS CAN BE RIGHT AWAY VERSUS WORKING UP TO THAT? "It makes it so much easier if you can come out organized and at the pace that you need to. As we all know it's hard to stay on top for a long period of time so if you can start peaking California, Richmond those tracks there I think that at that moment you have a lot of things working in your direction. It doesn't guarantee the championship but you have a lot of things going your way and the last two years we've had that fortune. I hope that we can be in that situation again, but so much changes in a short period of time. You always have to be on your toes and I think that's where Chad (Knaus) and I work so well together. The tires are changing from track to track. We all know this year there's still going to be plenty of changes that come along. It's just so tough to stay on top of it and it just boils down to the people you surround yourself with. That's where I think we've done a very good job."

RACE NOTES

Daytona International Speedway

* Johnson has made 14 Cup Series starts at Daytona International Speedway, collecting one win (Feb. 2006), five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. * He has completed 98.8% (2409 of 2439) of competition laps at the 2.5-mile track and has led 59. * Johnson has an average start and finish of 10.1 and 13.9.

Chassis

* Johnson will pilot chassis No.482 in Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500. He last drove that chassis to a 23rd-place finish in last July's Daytona event. * Backup chassis No. 474 started on the pole in the 2008 Daytona 500. Johnson finished 27th in that event.

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson