Chicagoland: Jimmie Johnson preview

Johnson eager for return to Chicagoland Johnson has one win and two top five finishes in two career races at Chicagoland JOLIET, Ill., (July 8, 2003) - In his rookie season last year, Team Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson returned to Chicagoland...

Johnson eager for return to Chicagoland

Johnson has one win and two top five finishes in two career races at Chicagoland

JOLIET, Ill., (July 8, 2003) - In his rookie season last year, Team Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson returned to Chicagoland Speedway, site of his first NASCAR win, filled with excitement. He was so excited to get back out on the track that on his very first lap in practice he wrecked coming off of turn three and was forced into using its backup car. To add insult to injury, Johnson had only 15 minutes to practice in his new Lowe's Chevy and as a result, took a provisional for the race.

But just when you thought Team Lowe's was going to show its rookie stripes, the team fought back from its 37th-place starting position to capture a top five finish and spark the team to a strong performance during the second half of the season.

Johnson on Chicagoland Speedway

"I think Chicago is going to be a great race for us. Last year we finished in the top five after having to start in the back with our back-up car. Hopefully we won't hit anything in practice or qualifying so we can start with our primary car and have a little track position behind us this year."

Johnson on passing at Chicagoland

"What you find with the new race tracks is that they've done such a good job of building a smooth race track and the quality of the asphalt is so good, that the bottom lane is the fastest way around the track. If you move up at all into the second or third lane, you're just making your distance longer and there's no benefit to that. Hopefully the winters have been hard on the race track. And with all the racing that's gone on there the last couple of years, hopefully we've taken away some of the grip from the bottom lane so that the second lane will start to have at least the same lap time if you move up a little bit. That's the thing we fight with new race tracks. After they are four or five years old, I think you start to see the second groove coming into play. So I'm excited. The track is getting a little bit of age on it and hopefully we'll have multiple grooves."

Johnson on using practice as a tool on new racetrack like Chicagoland

"Even on some of the older surfaces, you won't find a second groove coming into play during Happy Hour. For you to run the longer distance around the track, the bottom groove has got to be pretty slick and you usually don't see that until you get into the race on Sunday. The Busch race (on Saturday) really finally does in the bottom groove and greases it up enough that the second groove starts to come in, but we don't see it until Sunday."

Johnson on being a role model for youth

"When I started racing as a kid, I never thought I'd be in a role model situation. That's not what I aspired to be. I aspired to be the best racer possible. But that comes with the territory as you become older and you're in front of the camera. It's not anything I thought would happen, but it's there. It's an element that exists. It's a responsibility that I've taken on and hope to do a good job at because there are a lot of kids out there and it's something that means something to me as well."

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts

Johnson ranks sixth in the Winston Cup Series championship standings, 472 points behind leader Matt Kenseth and just 75 points out of the top five.

Chicagoland Speedway is the site of Johnson's first NASCAR victory (2001 Busch race).

Johnson has one win (Lowe's Motor Speedway), two top-five (Daytona - 3rd and Lowe's Motor Speedway - 1st) and six top-10 finishes (Daytona - 3rd, Rockingham - 8th, Bristol - 8th, Texas - 8th, Martinsville - 9th and Lowe's Motor Speedway - 1st).

Johnson has led in seven out of the 16 races this season (Daytona 500, Las Vegas, Talladega, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Dover, Pocono and Pepsi 400)

Johnson has been in the top 10 in NASCAR Winston Cup points for 50 consecutive weeks, the longest current streak in Winston Cup.

Johnson won his first pole position of 2003 at Pocono Raceway.

Johnson has four career Winston Cup victories, tying him for 63rd on the all-time NASCAR win list.

Johnson won The Winston all-star event at Lowe's Motor Speedway, taking home the largest purse in its 19-year history, $1 million.

Jimmie Johnson at Chicagoland Speedway

In Winston Cup, Johnson has raced only once at Chicagoland (started 37th and finished 4th).

In the Busch Grand National Series, Johnson raced only once at Chicagoland (started 6th and finished 1st).

No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Fast Facts

Team Lowe's Racing will bring Chevy 4874
This is the same Lowe's Monte Carlo that Johnson drove in the Las Vegas and California races this season. This Lowe's Chevy was just built this season.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson