Bristol: Jimmie Johnson preview

Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series visit Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for the debut of the No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS (Car of Tomorrow.) The Lowe's team tested the Impala SS three weeks ago in Bristol. Johnson hopes...

Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series visit Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for the debut of the No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS (Car of Tomorrow.) The Lowe's team tested the Impala SS three weeks ago in Bristol. Johnson hopes to drive the new car to his third consecutive victory equaling his sweep of Lowe's Motor Speedway, Martinsville and Atlanta in the fall of 2004. Johnson's 24th career victory at Las Vegas on March 11 then 25th career victory last weekend at Atlanta moved him into a tie for 23rd with Joe Weatherly and Jim Paschal for most victories since 1949. Tony Stewart, Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, Bill Elliott and Jeff Gordon are the only active drivers with more victories.

DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:

THE REST OF THE SEASON: "Well right now it's easy to feel good about things and there's no doubt that the championship is what's on our minds. I think when you come into the sport you focus on victories and top 10s and now the Chase is a big mark for the teams to make. But after you win a championship I think it changes you a little bit and that's what you really focus on and what you want to do again and again. Race wins are very, very important and an important step of that but since we came into '07 and the team meetings and discussions, everything we've talked about is trying to win another championship. Right now things are going well. We're doing the right things but it's just way too early to get excited. We've got to stay focused on the goals and that is making the Chase and then once we are in the Chase deal with the circumstances at that point. I feel confident that we're off to a good start."

ON CAR OF TOMORROW AS THE GREAT EQUALIZER: "There's certainly been an effort to control the bodies and chassis and find things out. I don't think we'll have a true feeling of that until a year or two gets under our belts with the car. Right now it's a rat race to figure out what that car wants and the first team that finds it is going to have a nice advantage. I think in the beginning it's not going to seem that way but over time I know NASCAR - we all know it's NASCAR's vision to bring more parity to the sport - actually, we're pretty equal as it is and I don't know how we're going to make it more equal out there. So we'll just have to learn with the car and try to help get things sorted out for '08."

HOW DOES THE NEW CAR COMPARE WITH THE CURRENT CAR? "The only comparison I have is Bristol. I have not been on a mile-and-a-half track to compare the downforce of the car but we were slower in the Car of Tomorrow and we had tight situation that we couldn't get out of the car. That part was frustrating and then the stuff we use to set the cars up is totally different. Springs don't do what they used to; the main focus is to keep the splitter on the ground and maintain the perfect attitude around the race track. So rear spring changes that you may make will twist the car and change the splitter height and you now have a packer that's a very stiff - it's almost like coil binding - you put packers in the front shocks to keep the splitter from hitting the ground. And there really isn't any give in that. So once you hit the packer the front-end shoots up the track. So we just need to figure out how to make it work and it's going to take some time. Bristol is true challenge to that car. It's a rough track and a tough place to set a race car up."

CHAD KNAUS:

ON BRISTOL: It doesn't matter what car we're taking. To go to Bristol you're always on pins and needles wondering what's going to happen; what the outcome of the race is going to be. Our team at Hendrick Motorsports has done a phenomenal job with Jim Long and Rex Stump preparing our Impala SS for competition. We went to the test at Bristol and we actually had one of our best tests ever. I'm really excited about going there for the first time and think that we've got a shot at having a very successful race."

NOTES

Chassis

* Johnson will drive chassis 413 at Bristol this weekend. Chassis 419 will serve as the backup. Since this is the debut of the Impala SS neither has raced.

Bristol Motor Speedway

* In 10 starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, Johnson has completed 4,858 of 5,000 laps. He owns an average starting spot of 19.2 and average finish of 15.5.He has led 29 laps at Atlanta.

-credit: hm

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin