Darlington: Jimmie Johnson preview

Darlington hits at the right time for Team Lowe's. This weekend a great opportunity for Johnson to end his top-10 drought DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 13, 2003) - Team Lowe's Racing driver Jimmie Johnson could not think of a better place to compete...

Darlington hits at the right time for Team Lowe's.
This weekend a great opportunity for Johnson to end his top-10 drought

DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 13, 2003) - Team Lowe's Racing driver Jimmie Johnson could not think of a better place to compete at this weekend than Darlington Raceway. Considered by many veteran drivers as one of the toughest tracks to race on in the Winston Cup Series, Darlington, where Johnson posted two top-10 finishes last season, is a place that has quickly become one of his favorite tracks.

Johnson is coming off of two consecutive races where he was running in the top-10 almost the entire afternoon until late race incidents cost him a top-10 finish. Darlington just might be the place to put Team Lowe's back on track.

Jimmie Johnson on the history and tradition of Darlington Raceway

"It takes a while to sink in and understand what Darlington is about. But the one thing that's self-explanatory is when you get out on the race track and you hear all the different things about the "Lady in Black" and how you've got to watch yourself or she'll jump up and bite you. You hear it for so long and you start to believe it. But as soon as you turn a lap out there, the respect the track demands is instilled in your mind right away. It is just intimating and a crazy track to get around.

"Darlington is a track that I love to race on. I've always had good runs there. Regardless of what happens, I don't think Darlington will be dropped from the schedule for reasons seen by NASCAR and others out there. They might need to move some dates around. I'm just one of the circus clowns that shows up for the show every week. I go wherever they tell me. I enjoy racing there. I enjoy the racetrack and I look forward to having a good day there on Sunday. One of my goals for the year is to try to win a race there. I really want to bring home a trophy from Darlington some day."

Johnson on learning about Darlington from Jeff Gordon

"It's very hard to communicate verbally where you are. I've been able to follow him in both races there last year, both racing with him and being around him to see things. But I think the thing that's helped me the most is being in his race car. He's been there for so many years and has won so many times, that it's a place he's perfected the set-up for. I think there's more of a direct effect from that.

"We've talked about some different things about the race track and it's characteristics that have been helpful, but it's more the race car I'm climbing into. That place eats tires so fast. Regardless of how good or bad a driver you are, if the car won't save the tires, you won't be around at the end of the race.

"I guess it's really hard to equate that stuff (driving Jeff's line). I guess I really don't pay too much attention to it. I just follow him because I know he's the best. I just learn from that. It probably is more from that but I probably just don't recognize it at much, I guess."

Chad Knaus on Darlington Raceway

"Darlington is considered a veterans track, a track that takes years of experience to learn how to run well. It is especially important to learn how to take care of your equipment and learning to negotiate the famed turn two, the turn where the wall actually juts out. Taking all of those things into consideration, you would think that Team Lowe's Racing would be at a huge disadvantage with only two races there under our belts. But fortunately for us, Darlington is a place our driver has been able to adapt to and post two awesome finishes.

"Darlington is also the toughest racetrack in the Winston Cup series on tires. I think it's even harder on them than Rockingham. Just like 'The Rock', Darlington's surface is made from sand that contains seashells in it, so the asphalt just wears down the tires in a hurry."

-hm/lowes-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus