Johnson out for three in a row at Dover DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 28, 2003) -- Winning three races at any one track over the course of a career in NASCAR Winston Cup competition is impressive. In fact, winning three races, period, is impressive...
Johnson out for three in a row at Dover
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 28, 2003) -- Winning three races at any one track over the course of a career in NASCAR Winston Cup competition is impressive. In fact, winning three races, period, is impressive these days given the closeness of today's competition in America's No. 1 motorsports series.
But winning three consecutive events at one track?
It's improbable, to say the least. Yet, that's the threshold where Jimmie Johnson finds himself, going into Sunday's MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Even more impressive: Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) is in only his second NASCAR Winston Cup season. He did the Dover Double as a rookie, en route to a three-win year (the other win was at California Speedway) and a fifth-place finish in the 2002 NASCAR Top 10.
Three drivers have won three consecutive Dover races: David Pearson (fall of 1972 and both '73 races); Rusty Wallace (fall of '93 and both '94 races) and Jeff Gordon (fall of '95 and both '96 races).
"We're looking forward to going to Dover," Johnson said, "but the mindset of the team is to not let the pressure of trying to win again get to us. Right now, we're just looking for solid finishes every week. That's how we're approaching it."
Johnson is coming off another "double" -- he swept The Winston and the Coca-Cola 600 the last two weekends at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The latter was his first series victory of the year (The Winston is an all-star/non-points event) and the fourth of his career.
Johnson became the fifth driver to sweep The Winston and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same year; Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison ('91), Dale Earnhardt ('93) and Gordon ('97) were the others.
In the process, he advanced to fifth place in the NASCAR Top 10.
A wondrous two weeks was punctuated by the word Monday that Lowe's, the primary sponsor for Johnson's car, has signed a five-year contract extension with the No. 48's co-owners Rick Hendrick and Gordon. Hendrick Motorsports also extended the contracts of Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus for at least another five years. The Johnson-Knaus partnership is generally regarded as one of the best in all of NASCAR, and one that has made the 27-year-old Johnson perhaps the most visible of the younger drivers gaining attention in NASCAR Winston Cup.
"We're taking the same car that won both events [at Dover] last year," Johnson said, "and we're hoping it will put us in victory lane again."