After just five events, Raybestos rookie contender Jimmie Johnson is sitting fifth in the points standings. He also has three top 10s, one top five and a Bud Pole Award, something the driver of the Lowe's Monte Carlo never expected to have ...
After just five events, Raybestos rookie contender Jimmie Johnson is sitting fifth in the points standings. He also has three top 10s, one top five and a Bud Pole Award, something the driver of the Lowe's Monte Carlo never expected to have accomplished by now.
"So far, I've been surprising the heck out of myself that we've been this competitive."
But with his consistent runs early on, its giving Johnson added confidence for the future. "I know we're going to have some tough races and struggles throughout the season at different tracks. But this is really helping myself and the whole team to know that we do have the potential and it is out there for us. So we can get through the hard times a little easier and hope for more good times."
He may be surprising himself by consistently running in the top 10, but he's far from surprising others. His talent is what caught the eye of Jeff Gordon, which then prompted the Hendrick Motorsports driver to add car owner to his long racing resume. At first, Johnson felt tremendous pressure since his teammate/car owner is a four-time Champion.
"I think it's natural to put that pressure on yourself. But everybody involved from Lowe's, to Rick (Hendrick) and Jeff, worked really hard to make sure that I didn't feel any pressure. I did feel a lot of pressure and put a lot on myself but it was comforting to have everybody around me trying to tell you other wise and let you know they're building the team for the future and you don't have to go out and perform first race out. So, there is a lot of added pressure, that's what I'm finding this early season success is helping me with, to deal with that pressure and kind of push it off of my shoulders. And climb in and just drive, do what I've done to get to this point."
So far, Johnson has finished ahead of Gordon in three of the five events.
"If I finish anywhere around Jeff in qualifying or in the race it really helps me know I'm doing what I can. He's the best in the business, the defending Champion, and if I can drive similar equipment to a similar finish, it really helps me out."