Phoenix: Jimmie Johnson preview

Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series travel to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend for Saturday night's seventh race of the 2007 season. It marks the third appearance of the Chevrolet Impala SS "Car of Tomorrow" ...

Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series travel to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend for Saturday night's seventh race of the 2007 season. It marks the third appearance of the Chevrolet Impala SS "Car of Tomorrow" that will race 16 times in 2007 and a majority of races in 2008 races.

Johnson finished 16th at Bristol and first in Martinsville in the previous "Car of Tomorrow" races in 2007. The defending Nextel Cup champion has already won three races in 2007 including Las Vegas and Atlanta in the Monte Carlo. He is third in points trailing leader Jeff Gordon by 181.

DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:

MONTE CARLO VERSUS IMPALA SS: "I have mixed feelings because we've been running good in both cars. At the end of the day, they're going to drop the checkered flag and I want to be the guy getting that checkered flag first. There is always a little doubt in your mind starting the season. But to sit back and watch the effort that's gone into the new car and to keep on top of things with the current car, I'm not surprised. It's just been a lot of work and preparation to keep both cars up front. With the (Monte Carlo), you can be more aggressive, I think. The (Impala SS) seems to need a little bit more finesse. It's got a higher center of gravity, so it isn't as crisp and as racy. I'm looking forward to getting in the car and having some fun here."

DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CHASE YET? "I think as the season wears on, we do. To have the victories that we do right now could be a good advantage for us. It just depends on how the season unfolds. It might be a nice advantage that we have or you never know. Somebody else could go on a tear and it would just be a wash."

DID YOU EVER THINK YOU'D START OFF THIS SEASON THIS GOOD? "No, I really don't try to get ahead of myself -- especially during the off-season and show up at Daytona with the fear of making the race or making the Chase for that matter. And I think our team does that as well. We try to refocus and not take things for granted. So winning was good. We're relaxed. We're thinking, we can win. Now to get three of them like we have means we really have held on to that momentum and speed that we had and we just happen to be taking advantage of that right now."

WHAT IS IT ABOUT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS THAT MAKES IT SO DOMINANT?

"I just think that Rick (Hendrick) has done a great job of assembling people who are really focused and dedicated to the sport. We might not have the speed all year long and we may even have a down year, but over time, the commitment that Rick has and the organization has in running up front, we seem to find our way back. I'm proud to be a part of it. It's really about the people at Hendrick Motorsports that make it happen."

NOTES

Chassis

* Johnson will race chassis 407 this weekend at Phoenix. This car started 20th and finished first at Martinsville. Chassis 419 will serve as a backup car and has not raced.

Phoenix International Raceway

* In seven starts at Phoenix, Johnson has completed all 2,187 laps. He owns an average starting spot of 15.1 and average finish of 7.7. He has led 113 laps at Phoenix. -- 20th best all time.

-credit: hm

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