Richmond II: Jimmie Johnson preview

This weekend Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 travel to Richmond International Raceway for Saturday night's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. Johnson trails Matt Kenseth by nine points. It marks the first time in 16 races Johnson has not...

This weekend Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 travel to Richmond International Raceway for Saturday night's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. Johnson trails Matt Kenseth by nine points. It marks the first time in 16 races Johnson has not held the points lead. Johnson, for the third consecutive year, and Kenseth are the only drivers who have clinched places in the 2006 "Chase for the Championship" that begins at New Hampshire International Speedway on Sept. 17.

DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:

RICHMOND: "We want to run good at Richmond. It's not been one of our best tracks, so we've got personal goals that we want to accomplish. We're just going to try to keep this momentum going and carry the same mindset into the final 10 and hopefully do our job."

HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT MATT KENSETH'S MOMENTUM AT THE MOMENT? "Oh, I'm very concerned - not only with Matt's momentum, but you look at the Childress cars and what they've been able to do. There have been a lot of guys earning points over the last 10 races but it's been hard to notice it because the point separation has been so big from first to 11th. But the No. 17 and the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick) and the No. 31 (Jeff Burton) have been doing an awesome job. The No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) has really been earning a lot of points lately. It's going to be interesting Chase. I think it's going to be the best one we've had yet."

ON HAVING A DIFFERENT GROUP OF DRIVERS MAKING THE CHASE THIS YEAR: "I really think we have a lot of great competitors and I believe you'll see a turnaround from year to year of guys not making the Chase. I think you'll see four or five guys that don't come back that find their way into the Chase the following year. There is that much competition. If you add up all the cars that Childress has, and Gibbs, and Hendrick Motorsports, and Roush, you've got about 16 cars. So there's going to be a lot of turnover from year to year, and I think that says a lot for our sport."

DOES IT AFFECT YOU TO RACE AGAINST GUYS THAT HAVE NEVER RACED IN THE CHASE BEFORE? "Not really. I think if you make the Chase, you've shown that you have the ability to race for a championship and that things are working right for you that year. And in a 10-race stretch, everybody has a chance to be a champion."

Race Notes

Johnson has completed 3,169 of 3,593 laps in his nine starts at Richmond International Raceway. He has an average starting position of 14.2 and an average finishing position of 21st. He has led 124 laps in three of the nine races.

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson