Homestead: Jimmy Johnson preview

Jimmie Johnson and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series travel to Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sunday's final race in the 10-race 2007 "Chase for the Nextel Cup." After posting his 33rd career victory at Phoenix, Johnson leads teammate Jeff Gordon by 86...

Jimmie Johnson and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series travel to Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sunday's final race in the 10-race 2007 "Chase for the Nextel Cup." After posting his 33rd career victory at Phoenix, Johnson leads teammate Jeff Gordon by 86 points. Johnson is aiming for his fifth consecutive victory and 11th this season, but if he finishes 18th or better he clinches his second consecutive NASCAR Nextel Cup title.

Johnson has won 11 of the 39 "Chase" races since NASCAR created the new format four years ago.

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON HOMESTEAD STRATEGY: "No matter what happens, we know the Nextel Cup trophy will be at Hendrick Motorsports and that's a great thing for our organization. The lead that we have, it's a nice, comfortable position to be in. But we've got to go down there and run 400 miles. That's bottom line. If we don't run the full distance of the race then we're in trouble. The lead takes some pressure off, but we're going to go down there and try to keep it simple like we've done. Go out there, run our race, do our thing. I'm just trying to keep it simple and not get caught up in things. Last week was a good example of disappearing and going on vacation for a couple days. Not reading or seeing any highlights on TV, nothing, I was completely out of the loop. I hope I can do that this week. Show up, keep it simple, and get in the race car and go. I don't want to act like it's our championship yet. We have a nice margin in the points right now. But 400 miles, that's my goal. I have to run 400 more miles, and we'll get nuts after that."

ON JEFF GORDON COMPARISONS: "Well, first of all, he would say it too; I don't want to be called the next Jeff Gordon. I'm Jimmie Johnson. I've always done it my way. You talk to him, you look at our driving styles and anything we do, we're on opposite ends. We do have some common interests. We've been close friends, but I'm not Jeff Gordon. He has, I think when businessmen or yourself maybe with your career, you look at the guy that gave you that first chance. It wasn't really my first chance, but it was my chance, it was my shot, it was Jeff. And Jeff was put in a position by Rick to say I want this guy to drive our race cars. They were talking about the fourth team and what was going on. And Rick came to Jeff and said you believe him that much, put some skin in the game. Let's start up this team, and put some partners in it and get Jimmie Johnson and put him in the car. So I look at that and he gave me my shot. For him to be as open and honest about what things take place on track, and what to expect off the track and business and fans and sponsorship side, he has been a big part of my success. And I'd say, keeping me between the lines. I've still got to get in the car and do my things. I still have to bond with my team and do all the things that take place. But he's got to understand the parameters of the sport so I didn't get off track to make any mistakes."

CREW CHIEF CHAD KNAUS: "The thing I'm proudest of if you look over our history as a team is we've been able to battle for the championship every year. The thing that is the coolest about it is we haven't battled the same team. We've battled, the 17, the 97, the 24. Everybody's had their turn out there, and we've been the team that's been the most consistent and been able to battle for the championship every year. I love that. I love that we've got staying power. We can continue to do that. That's got a lot to do with guys back at the shop. They continuously work. And evolve with what we've got. They talk about how I like to learn new things, but we have 560 people all trying to figure out the next new thing. I can't rate myself. I don't know where I stand. I think there are a lot of guys that are a lot smarter than I am. There are engineers out there, chemical engineers, flow dynamists, and a lot of people that know a lot. I've been fortunate to work with Rick Hendrick and learn the most valuable thing you can learn, and that is simply use the people you've got. Use the people you've got to the best of your ability, and the success will come. As long as the people have something at stake, you'll end up with a better product. And since 2005, I tried to live by that and work by that daily. And it's obviously working."

NOTES CHASSIS

* Johnson will race chassis 363 in Homestead. This chassis owns victories at Atlanta in October, California in September and Las Vegas in 2007. Chassis 359 will serve as the backup and won at Atlanta in March and Indianapolis.

-credit: hm

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