Fontana: Jimmie Johnson preview

Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet head to his home state of California for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series event at Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Calif.). The El Cajon-native has collected three wins at the Southern...

Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet head to his home state of California for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series event at Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Calif.).

The El Cajon-native has collected three wins at the Southern California track, including a victory last August, when he led 228 of 250 circuits.

Johnson will be piloting chassis No. 504 this weekend, which Team Lowe's Racing used eight times last season. The car started from the pole four of those eight times, resulting in three wins (Pocono, Indy, Calif. 2) and a runner-up finish (Atl. 2)

JIMMIE JOHNSON:

WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN FROM YOUR GROUP THAT INDICATES YOU WILL GET OFF TO A BETTER START THIS YEAR THAN LAST YEAR? "Daytona is so different than the rest of the races we run. At least last year we could test and we were in Las Vegas and California with the rest of the field. We knew that we weren't up to speed then. We were trying to work on it and correct it then when we knew we were off. This year, we don't have a clue. We haven't tested. My fingers are crossed, but I have to have the mindset that we're going to be off and just go to Fontana and learn from there.

"I think it's going to be a very challenging year for the teams. They're going to have to sacrifice the practice sessions on Friday and the potential for a good qualifying position, which will lead to problems on pit road. Things are a little different in areas that we worked hard to be good at in qualifying so we have track position and so we have a good pit stall. That dynamic is going to change a lot this year."

ON GOING TO CALIFORNIA, DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT IS HOME OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE A SOUTHERN BOY NOW? "Charlotte is home. I've lived there almost as long as I lived in California for that matter. It's where I chose my house and friends and restaurants and that stuff. But California has a special place in my heart; especially El Cajon. It's neat to go back and let my mind go down memory lane and all the experiences that come with it. Maybe some day I can end up back in California when my Cup career is done. But as of now, I've been in Charlotte since 1997 so it's been a while."

ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING SPECIAL BEFORE THE FONTANA RACE?

"We're going to go to the (Habitat for Humanity) houses and just wander around a bit. We'll go to the dealership and see everybody there. We'll spend a day in Southern California before we head up to Fontana."

RACE NOTES

Auto Club Speedway

* Johnson has made 12 Cup Series starts at Auto Club Speedway, posting three wins, eight top-five and eight top-10 finishes.

* He has one pole position there -- Sept. 2007

* Johnson has completed 100% (3005 of 3005) of competition laps at his home track and has led 523.

* Johnson has an average start and finish of 9.8 and 5.9.

Chassis

* Johnson will pilot chassis No. 504 in Sunday's race. This car was used eight times by Team Lowe's Racing in 2008, collecting three wins and a runner-up finish (all from the pole). He last drove that chassis to a 15th-place finish at Homestead.

* Johnson finished second in backup chassis No. 465 at Auto Club Speedway last February.

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson