Johnson has a huge weight on his shoulders this weekend as he tries to pilot his No. 48 Chevrolet to victory in his sponsor’s race.
After clinching a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth with his win at Atlanta Motor Speedway last Sunday, one might surmise Jimmie Johnson could race stress free until the opener of NASCAR’s playoffs at Chicagoland Speedway on September 20... Think again.
Johnson has a huge weight on his shoulders this weekend as he tries to pilot his No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet to victory in his sponsor’s race – Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX).
“Driving the Kobalt car for the Kobalt 400 adds some pressure and (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and I really don’t like to see someone else in Victory Lane with our sponsor,” Johnson said. “We have an incredible partnership and I’d love to win it for them this weekend. It would be really special."
The track itself is tough and we haven't had a whole lot of success there lately,
Johnson, who finished a career-worst 11th in the final Sprint Cup points standings last year, has jumped out to a quick start, finishing fifth in the season-opening Daytona 500 before his Atlanta triumph.
His early success likely won’t slow at Las Vegas, where he boasts a track-record four victories.
The six-time premier series champion hasn’t won at the 1.5-mile tri-oval since 2010, but claims a high finish of second and no showing worse than sixth in his last three starts in Sin City.
"I’m certainly excited about going to Las Vegas,” he said. “The track itself is tough and we haven't had a whole lot of success there lately, but I would really like to bring home that cool Kobalt trophy for my sponsor.”
The man that would love to ruin Johnson’s day is defending race winner Brad Keselowski.
Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion, will try to celebrate his 200th career start by taking his No. 2 Ford first to the checkered.
“The last time we were at Las Vegas, our Miller Lite Ford Performance Fusion and Discount Tire Ford Mustang swept the weekend," Keselowski said. "I’d love to do that again, but since we are only running the (Sprint) Cup race we’ll have to do our best to make the most of that one. It is always fun coming out to Las Vegas – the track is great and we draw a great crowd too."
NASCAR Wire Service