Jimmie Johnson is the likely driver to beat Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte as the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races for 600 miles -- the longest race of the season. Johnson owns five victories at LMS and has not finished outside the...
Jimmie Johnson is the likely driver to beat Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte as the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races for 600 miles -- the longest race of the season. Johnson owns five victories at LMS and has not finished outside the top three in the last eight races there. Johnson finished second in Saturday's All-Star race and is second in the 2007 points race trailing Jeff Gordon by 231 points. Johnson's four victories are the most of any driver in 2007.
Johnson will also drive a Cadillac in Thursday's SCCA SPEED World Challenge sports car race and race in Saturday night's Busch Series race. Johnson's Nextel Cup car will carry a "Power of Pride" paint scheme while Kobalt Tools will be on the Busch car. In addition to driving, Johnson says he won't get far from the television on Sunday -- perhaps auto racing's biggest day -- watching the Formula One race from Monte Carlo in the morning and the Indianapolis 500 in the afternoon before the 5 p.m. start time for the 600.
DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:
CHANCES IN THE 600: "I feel really confident about coming back and what we need to have. Matt Kenseth and the Jeff Gordon both had some trouble in the All-Star race, but I expect them to be two of the favorites for the 600. At the All-Star race it seemed like clean air made a difference being in the first two or three cars but outside of that, when I was running mid-pack, I didn't really have a lot for anyone. The cars were pretty equal through the field. I don't really have a clear favorite going in to it. I think we will have to wait until the weekend and see how things shake out."
HOW MUCH EASIER DOES IT BECOME TO WIN ON A TRACK WHERE YOU'VE WON SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE? "It doesn't really get any easier, but you have a little more confidence coming into the event. You know where you need to be on the race track and the right rhythm and try to hang on to that mentally and apply that each time you come back. So I guess I know where to look. It doesn't mean we're going to go out and run well, but I get excited to come here. When we find the right rhythm and what I need in the car, we know we can sit tight and be confident. Lowe's Motor Speedway has been a great track for us. We look forward to coming to and we've had a lot of success here. I don't know why it's worked or why it's been this way, but hopefully it'll continue and we'll have that same magic we typically have."
BUSCH SERIES RACE: "I am really looking forward to Saturday night. We crashed after 20 laps the last time we raced a Busch car there so we want to do a lot better this time. Hopefully we will have a lot of fun, learn about the track, and bring the Lowe's car to Victory Lane. I enjoy the Busch Series. If you are a race car driver you enjoy racing anything. The more I can race the happier I am."
THURSDAY'S SPEED WORLD CHALLENGE: "I really want to become a better road course driver. When I go to Watkins Glen or Sonoma, I can run in the top 10 and top 5, but not fighting for the win. I want to get more experience in road course cars and Cadillac was nice enough to invite me to participate in the SPEED World Challenge Race. They took me to Sebring and I tested the car there. I also tested it at Lowe's Motor Speedway. It's just been more experience for me in a road course car. I was surprised on how quick and good the production-based car is. The Cadillac is really an impressive car. The other thing is that it really reminded me of a Nextel Cup car. The weight of the vehicle and stopping power and the way you drive it was a lot like a Nextel Cup car. So it was time well spent on my behalf. The standing start is going to be different for me. They have a launch control that I really didn't figure out during the test, so hopefully I can figure out how to utilize it so I can really make it work for me. "
INDIANAPOLIS 500: "I'll be watching Indy on Sunday in the motor home. I have friends who race in the IRL and the Indy 500 is one of the races I remember my family gathering around the television set to watch when I was growing up. Indy is sacred ground for racers. I had a lot of respect for that place, but winning our race there last year made me appreciate Indianapolis even more. Prediction? Well, I'd like to see Helio Castroneves get his third victory but Dan Wheldon is going to be awfully tough to beat on Sunday."
* Johnson will drive chassis 48-363 this weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway while chassis 48-297 will serve as backup. See below for chassis histories.)
Lowe's Motor Speedway
* In eleven points-paying races, Johnson has completed 3,740 of 3,882 laps. He owns an average starting spot of 8.2 and average finish of 5.8. He has five victories and eight consecutive top three finishes. He has led 956 laps at LMS.
* Johnson is the only driver with four victories. Only Jeff Gordon has three victories.
* Chevrolet has won ten of the season's eleven races.
* Hendrick Motorsports has won eight of the season's eleven races including eight of the last nine races.
* Hendrick Motorsports has won all five "Car of Tomorrow "races.
* Johnson has led in seven of 11 races for 529 laps in 2007.