Daytona Shootout: Jimmie Johnson preview

Team 48 Bud Shootout/Qualifying Preview The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season begins Saturday night, Feb. 9, with the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, followed by qualifying on Sunday for the Feb. 17 Daytona 500. Series champion ...

Team 48 Bud Shootout/Qualifying Preview

The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season begins Saturday night, Feb. 9, with the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, followed by qualifying on Sunday for the Feb. 17 Daytona 500.

Series champion Jimmie Johnson is looking to earn his second checkered flag in the non-points race. The 2005 Shootout winner and driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet has never finished outside the top-10 in this event. The 23-driver field will draw for starting positions on Thursday night.

DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON:

BUD SHOOTOUT: "I'm looking forward to getting back on the track in race conditions. We've made a lot of laps in testing the past few weeks, but there's no comparison to being out there in the battle. It's going to be interesting to see how the cars handle in a big pack. I think it will be a good show for the fans.

"Being in the shootout is a definite plus as far as letting us be among the first to see how this new car design is going to react in a race at Daytona. Plus, it's just a 'no-holds-barred' great race for the fans and the drivers. Having your first race of the season be a non-points race is a great way to get back in the groove without the added pressure of knowing points are on the line."

LOOKING AHEAD: "We've all enjoyed celebrating the championship, but that's over and done with. It's a new year, a new season, and a whole new set of challenges. When you're the ones on top of the hill, everybody's looking to knock you off. As a team, we kind of like the view from up here, so we've got the same focus and drive we had before that first championship ever came along.

"This sport is unforgiving. Guys who are too busy looking back at what they've accomplished are the guys who are going to get their butts handed to them. We don't intend to be those guys."

OFF SEASON: "The off season was pretty hectic, but we had a lot of fun. Some of my friends ask me why, after a 38-race season, I don't just go home and sit on the couch for awhile. If you're fortunate enough to win a championship, it gives you the opportunity to go places and do things a lot of people don't get the chance to do. I'm trying to take it all in and make the most of it, and hopefully help some people along the way.

"This past weekend, I left California (Speedway) after testing and headed to Phoenix. My buddy Nick (Lachey) and I held our first Super Skins celebrity golf tournament on Saturday. We had a blast and raised some money for some great charities. When you're having fun and doing some good at the same time, it's hard to question why you're not sitting at home."

QUALIFYING: "It would be a real honor to win the pole for the 50th running of the Daytona 500. Any time you have success at Daytona, it's special. This place just has so much history and so many legends have competed here, it's humbling to have your name mentioned in the same breath as those drivers.

"It was such an incredible rush to win my first Cup series pole at Daytona (in 2002). Being a rookie, it was a lot to wrap your head around. All the media, the cameras, the excitement and the prestige -- it was a lot to take in, but I loved every second of it.

"If we aren't fortunate enough to win the pole, I just hope for a good starting spot for the Twin 150's. The Hendrick engine department has done an amazing job with the restrictor-plate program, so I'm confident we can start near the front."

Race Notes

Chassis

* Team Lowe's Racing will take chassis 48413 to the Bud Shootout this weekend. Jimmie Johnson finished 16th with this chassis in the very first car of tomorrow race at Bristol Motor Speedway in March, 2007, and third at Darlington Raceway in May.

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson