SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (Sept. 29, 2010) -- Merriam-Webster's definition of domination: supremacy or preeminence over another; exercise of mastery or ruling power. Auto Club Speedway's definition of domination: NASCAR driver...
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (Sept. 29, 2010) -- Merriam-Webster's definition of domination: supremacy or preeminence over another; exercise of mastery or ruling power. Auto Club Speedway's definition of domination: NASCAR driver and California native Jimmie Johnson.
"I don't know if it's that I'm that good, said Johnson. "I think we've just figured that track out. It suits my driving style and that (Crew Chief) Chad (Knaus) and the guys do a good job getting the car where I like it driving wise."
In October 2009, as Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet passed by the flag stand taking the checkered flag, the record books at Auto Club Speedway were rewritten as the El Cajon native won his third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500, making him Auto Club Speedway's winningest Cup driver with four victories in total. The victory, the 45th of Johnson's career at the time, also moved Johnson into first place in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Six races later, Johnson was crowned Champion for an unprecedented fourth straight time.
And now, as the NASCAR heavyweights roar back into Auto Club Speedway for the playoffs -- The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup -- the Pepsi MAX 400 on October 10, one simple question is on everyone's mind. "Can anyone beat Jimmie Johnson at Auto Club Speedway in October?"
February at Auto Club Speedway belongs to others. Matt Kenseth has won three of the last five February races and finished 7th this year. Jeff Gordon has two seconds and a third in the last five February races. Johnson won in Feb. 2010 but absolutely owns his home track in October.
In last year's October spectacle, Johnson eked out a 1.603-second victory over Gordon. In 2008 he won the race and won the pole, becoming the first NASCAR Sprint Cup driver to win both in the same weekend at Auto Club Speedway. And in 2007, he was first to cross the line ahead of Carl Edwards. Now it's back to his "home track" to attempt to add to his trophy case in front of his "home fans."
"It definitely makes it more special to win in front of the California fans," shared Johnson. "It was very special that I got my first NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Auto Club Speedway. There was so much pressure for us to show that we could win in the Lowe's Chevy and to have that validation come at what I consider my home track definitely ranks up there as a big moment in my career."
Johnson went on to say, "It's also cool rolling into the track each time. I think there are a few more 48 flags than at most other tracks.
"I'm excited to go back. We have our Jimmie Johnson Foundation major fund raiser that takes place in my hometown, the area of my hometown I should say. We do a lot of great things, raise some money for a variety of things. I'm very excited to go back although there is a lot of work for me going home for the golf tournament and the dinner that is beforehand.
"But I really enjoy the race track. I enjoy the weather, the atmosphere, In-N-Out Burger, Mexican restaurants I am fond of in the area. It is always good to go home. There is a certain feeling about it. I won my first and my 48th race at Auto Club Speedway. There are a lot of cool things about that race track for me."