This weekend Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 travel to New Hampshire International Speedway for Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. The NHIS race marks the first of ten "Chase for the Championship" races. Johnson starts the ...
This weekend Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 travel to New Hampshire International Speedway for Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. The NHIS race marks the first of ten "Chase for the Championship" races. Johnson starts the "Chase" five points behind Matt Kenseth.
DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:
ON THE CHASE FINALLY BEGINNING: "It is here and it is going to be exciting. There are 10 really great teams, 10 great drivers. I am just focused on that 10-car battle. I have a great race team. I couldn't be more proud of what they have done all year. We have been well prepared and really shown a lot of strength. If you look at this team's month of August, this has been by far our best August. I know we haven't been winning races or leading a lot of laps, but as I look back we are a heck of a lot better than we were in past years and are a much better race team. We are smarter than we were and a stronger race team. These final 10 races are a totally different animal than the first 26. It is time to get out there and go after it."
CHANCES: "I think I have at least as good or even better chance to win a championship now as I ever have. So does everyone else. When you re-rack this thing and there are only 45 points between first and tenth, everybody has a shot. It will come down to who can deal with everything and have the best car. If you get off to a slow start in the Chase, if you aren't a strong team, the pressure of the Chase can knock the wind out of your sails and hurt you. The champion has had a bad race. The goal is to not have a bad race. If you have one at New Hampshire, then you have to have nine perfect ones after that. That's what it boils down to. This year, I think, has a stronger more competitive top-10 than before. Maybe that mindset won't work and you need to focus on having all top-10s or top-5s.
ON HAVING HMS TEAMMATES KYLE BUSCH AND JEFF GORDON IN THE CHASE: "I think it will help us. I am sure the intensity is going to ramp up, and guys might keep things a little closer to their vest. We do a great job of communicating, so I don't see that as a problem. We are going to be racing really, really hard. The thing I am so excited for is for Rick (Hendrick). He has given so much to this sport and to his organization we want to get him a championship."
CHASE WILDCARDS? "If there is one wild card or a race to worry about it would be Talladega. We just need to get out of there clean. Next I would say New Hampshire and Phoenix would be the weaker tracks for us. But every place else are good places for this No. 48 team. I can't wait to get to Martinsville. It is a tough track on some guys but it is a good track for me and the No. 24. I am just looking forward to it."
Race Notes New Hampshire
Johnson has completed all 2,615 laps in his nine starts at NHIS. He has an average starting position and finishing position of 8.7 -- the best of all drivers with multiple starts. He has led 73 laps in three of his nine races. Johnson has posted top 15 finishes in all nine of his starts at NHIS, the only driver to do so.