Martinsville II: Jimmie Johnson preview

This weekend Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 travel to Martinsville Speedway for Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. The race in southern Virginia marks the sixth of ten 2006 "Chase for the Championship" races. Johnson is seventh...

This weekend Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 travel to Martinsville Speedway for Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. The race in southern Virginia marks the sixth of ten 2006 "Chase for the Championship" races. Johnson is seventh in the points, 146 behind leader Jeff Burton. This is Johnson's 100th consecutive week in the top ten.

DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:

MARTINSVILLE: "I can't wait to get back. That's been a great race track for me. I think it's a chance where I can score some points on some of the guys like Matt Kenseth and maybe (Jeff) Burton - even though Burton has been strong there. I really like the track and I think it's a chance for me to get some points."

DOES THE SITUATION YOU'RE IN RIGHT NOW CAUSE YOU TO TAKE MORE RISKS? "We're in a no-pressure situation. We have nowhere to go but up. And if we were leading the points, we'd be more worried about protecting right now. And we're not in that situation."

IS MARTINSVILLE A WILDCARD? "At Martinsville, you can't get away from anybody. You have a chance to get caught up in somebody else's wreck or somebody else's problem and take you out of a good points day. So I do look at it as a wild card race. I'm excited to go there. We usually run really well at Martinsville."

STRATEGY: "If we can go out and run up front, fight for wins and finish up front like we did (Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway) the rest will fall in place. If we don't get to the championship, I want to finish as high as I can in the points this year. I've got a record of being in the top five every year so far. I want to keep that going. The racer in me, I want to finish as high as I can regardless of the championship."

Race Notes

Martinsville Speedway

Johnson has completed 4,446 of 4,500 laps in his nine starts at Martinsville. He has an average starting position of 13.8 and an average finish of 7.9 -- second only to Jeff Gordon's 7.6 average finish. Johnson has led 366 laps in three of his nine races. He owns a pole (2006) and a victory (Fall 2004) at Martinsville.

Johnson has posted eight consecutive top ten finishes at Martinsville -- the most of any driver.

Chase

Johnson is one of three drivers to participate in all three "Chase" battles. He finished second in the 2004 "Chase" and fifth last year. This will be Johnson's fifth consecutive season finishing in the top ten in points.

Johnson owns six "Chase" victories, the most of any driver, and led 611 laps but suffered five finishes outside the top 30 in his 25 career "Chase" races.

Johnson is the only driver to post four top-ten starts in this season's "Chase."

Martinsville April Race

Johnson looked like the driver to beat in the late going of the 500-lap race. But Stewart made the pass for the lead with just 28 laps remaining. Johnson fell to third when Jeff Gordon slipped by with 18 laps left. Despite some late race cautions and a red flag that stopped the race in the final 10 laps, neither Hendrick Motorsports teammate could challenge Stewart.

-credit: hm

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