Jimmie Johnson's hopes of another pair of back-to-back wins in the All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600 went up in smoke late in the NEXTEL challenge after getting involved in a wreck on lap 11. The No. 48 Chevy managed to continue on, but did not have the head of steam it did before the multi-car crash.
Luckily, the bad mojo in All-Star event did not affect Johnson's position in the Cup standings. Johnson currently sits 200 points ahead of where he was this time last season, in second place, and a mere 40 points behind leader Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"I get excited about the 200 points until I realize we have a new points system and it doesn't really matter like it did before," commented Johnson. "Last year, at the beginning of the season, we had some goofy things happening to us late in races. It seemed like I was spinning out every time within three (laps) to go. I had a lot of trouble with that.
"This year, we've just been able to close the deal a lot more. We've been performing a little better and accumulated some points there. But more than anything, we've just been more consistent with our finishes."
Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus plan on bringing the same car back to Charlotte that won this event last year, and led six other events at the Charlotte Speedway. Knaus was the primary reason during the All-Star event that Team 48 decided to park Johnson's ride. He felt that they needed to concentrate on the 600, and not risk bending up a perfectly good race car.
Knaus knows that not everything has ran smoothly for Johnson's team this season, and looks to start improving their game plan, "Oh yeah, there's a lot of stuff. We're still working on the pit crew and getting everybody in place and getting comfortable. I definitely have a lot to work on. I've made some bonehead pit calls this year. I'm trying to get that squared away.
The No. 48 Hendrick team should be stout this weekend. Johnson is on a streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes, and in five races at Lowe's Motor Speedway, he has four top-10 results. Of the eleven point races this year, Johnson has six top-five results, including a win at Darlington Raceway.
This weekend Johnson hopes to join Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth as a multiple race winner this season.