Jimmie Johnson and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series travel to Richmond International Raceway this weekend for Saturday night's race -- the final race before the 10-race 2007 "Chase for the Championship." Johnson's fifth victory of the season...
Jimmie Johnson and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series travel to Richmond International Raceway this weekend for Saturday night's race -- the final race before the 10-race 2007 "Chase for the Championship."
Johnson's fifth victory of the season Sunday night at California Speedway was his first since May 6 at Richmond and the 28th of his career tying him with Rex White for the 21st most career victories. Johnson is sixth in points but under the new scoring system that equalizes the points for all 12 "Chase" drivers then adds ten points for each victory, Johnson would start the "Chase" in first with 4,050 points due to his five victories.
The 2006 champion hopes to earn Hendrick Motorsports its sixth victory in the 11th race this season featuring the Chevrolet Impala SS "Car of Tomorrow." Three Hendrick drivers have earned spots in the "Chase."
DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:
THREE HENDRICK DRIVERS IN THE CHASE: "I think this is a great problem. Rick (Hendrick) has three cars capable of winning the championship with Kyle (Busch), myself, and Jeff (Gordon). We're all very strong mentally. We all want to win. We all want to race hard. We all want to be a champion for our own reasons: Kyle wants his first, Jeff wants his fifth. I want my second. When I first think in my mind of who I'm going to have to fight for the championship, I think of my teammates and that's a huge credit to Rick Hendrick Motorsports. There are a lot of other cars out there and it's going to be a long ten races to say the least. But I think my teammates, out of the three of us, we should get it done."
ANY DOUBT YOU WOULD WIN AGAIN? "No, that's not the case. We've been close; we've been running good. I think of Dover, I think of somewhere else in there, Chicago where we were running really good and up front and had problems. So we have been close. It's nice to get the job done and historically we get off to a great start, have a slow summer and finish up strong and it looks like for whatever reason, our cycle is coming back. It's just kind of what happens for us and I don't really know why but I'm glad we are back in victory lane. I didn't think we wouldn't get back in victory lane, but it is nice to get back."
HAVE TEAMS CLOSED THE GAP WITH THE NEW CAR NOW? "Yeah, there are certainly a lot of other teams that have closed the gap. That's really by NASCAR's design. I think we did a very good job of sorting out our cars before the season started and had a little bit of an advantage. But as the year went on, we really haven't had anywhere else to go and we're kind of topped out and finding very small subtle teams where the teams below us have been catching up and if not, better at times. It's by design as NASCAR wants it but the competitor in us, we're like 'well, this isn't any fun, we're tapped out, we're there, and everybody's catching us'."
CREW CHIEF CHAD KNAUS ON RICHMOND: "We are really excited about going back to Richmond, we are taking the same car that we had in the spring at Richmond. We were in Milwaukee last week testing it. For Loudon, we have a brand new Impala SS that we are going to take there that we are really excited about."
CHAD KNAUS ON 48 TEAM RETURNING TO CHASE: "I think it is phenomenal. I think it speaks volumes about this team. The whole 48 team has just been so, so strong since its inception in 2002. We when rolled out, I was very proud of the way Jimmie was able to drive the race car. The team just gelled and it has continued to get bigger, and stronger. For us to be in contention once again at this time is just incredible. It is a great thing for Lowe's, HMS and everyone involved."