Daytona Shootout: Johnson preview

The 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup season begins Saturday night with the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway and then single-lap qualifying on Sunday for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500. Series champion Jimmie Johnson hopes to earn his second...

The 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup season begins Saturday night with the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway and then single-lap qualifying on Sunday for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

Series champion Jimmie Johnson hopes to earn his second checkered flag in the non-points race. The 2005 Shootout winner and driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet said the shootout is NASCAR's version of baseball's opening day. The 21-driver field will draw for starting positions on Friday night.

DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:

BUD SHOOTOUT: "This is NASCAR's version of 'Opening Day.' The last time we raced was in Homestead and that seems like a long time ago. To get out there and start racing again in something as wild and fun as the Shootout is really cool. It's one of the races everyone anticipates. We won this race in 2005. Winning this event is always a great way to start the season."

2007 ATTITUDE? "We are excited. We aren't resting on our laurels. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us. If you look at the history books you will see there aren't a lot of back-to-back champions in our sport. But this team has overcome a lot of hurdles in the last few years and this will be just another challenge for us. I think we have learned a lot in the last few years. We seem to get stronger every year and I expect that to continue this season. We are very optimistic and can't wait to see the green flag drop."

OFF SEASON: "We had a great off-season. We celebrated our championship and did a lot of media work, appearances and took some vacation time. I'm ready to get back at it. The Shootout is a great place to start. This is going to be a fun season. There's going to be a lot of issues to keep the fans interested."

QUALIFYING: "It's important to us. It decides where we will start the Twin 150s. You want to be up front ahead of any trouble that might develop. (Crew Chief) Chad (Knaus) puts a lot of work on our qualifying setups. The driver doesn't play a great role in single lap qualifying, it's more about all the hard work our race team at Hendrick Motorsports puts into the restrictor plate program.

-credit: hm

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