Fontana: Jimmie Johnson preview

Team Lowe's looking for two in a row at California. Johnson determined for repeat win on home track. FONTANA, Calif. (April 22, 2003) - Team Lowe's Racing's driver Jimmie Johnson is excited to head back to California this weekend to defend ...

Team Lowe's looking for two in a row at California.
Johnson determined for repeat win on home track.

FONTANA, Calif. (April 22, 2003) - Team Lowe's Racing's driver Jimmie Johnson is excited to head back to California this weekend to defend his first Winston Cup Series win at California Speedway. Johnson became the fourth fastest driver to win a Winston Cup race and that victory sparked Team Lowe's on to one of the best rookie seasons in the modern era tying the rookie record for three victories.

Jimmie Johnson on what it meant to win his first race in California

"Last year we were running well and competing for wins, but we didn't expect to win that soon or that early into the season. We had hoped that by the end of the year we were going to be a contender for race wins. But, when it all came together - to win in my home state - it couldn't have gone any better for me. It was such a cool thing to have my friends and family in the stands. Like I said, it couldn't have gone any better."

Johnson on coming back to California as the defending champion

"The only experience I have coming back as defending champion was last year at Dover. We were able to go back to Dover and win a second time. So I sure hope that things go that well for us in California. Our technology has changed so much in the set-ups in the race cars from when we were there last year that nothing will be the same this time. Things change so fast that we're kind of starting over from ground zero again. But I like that race track and Chad (Knaus, crew chief) knows how to set the race car up for there. We're just going to have to find a balance with this new set-up and see what happens. So as much as being the defending champion you'd think would help you and give you and the team the confidence to come back, the car isn't the same. So you've got to go back out and rebuild your race car."

Johnson on what he likes most about California Speedway

"The reason I like it the most is the trophy that's sitting on my mantle. Seriously, Chad (Knaus, crew chief) gives me a great racecar for a mile and a half and up (track sizes). He gives me a great racecar everywhere. But it seems like a mile and a half and two-mile race tracks - from Vegas to Michigan - we're always competitive. When you're out there running fast and passing good cars and racing for the lead each week on this style of track, you look forward to those on the schedule. California is one of those tracks and we took the last trophy home from there so we're really pumped about going back. Trophies are what we're after."

Johnson on the pressure of racing in his home state

"There is so much pressure every week and so much on the line that it's not going to be too different than a normal weekend, I don't think. The great thing, obviously, is that we ran well there before and we run well on the bigger tracks. We really run well everywhere, but we should be right where we left off last year - competing for the pole and for the win."

Johnson on California getting a second event

"Growing up on the west coast, Indy car racing, off-road racing and motocross racing were the big things. I never was that interested in NASCAR until I got older, simply because they don't have a lot of races out on the west coast. There is a huge fan base out there that wants it. I'm glad to hear that California is being considered as an option."

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts
* Johnson ranks fourth in the Winston Cup Series championship standings, 179 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.

* Johnson has five top-10 finishes (Daytona - 3rd, Rockingham - 8th, Bristol - 8th, Texas - 8th, and Martinsville - 9th).

* Johnson's win at California last season made him the fourth fastest driver in Winston Cup history to get a victory.

* California Speedway is considered Johnson's home track because it is merely a two-hour drive to his hometown of El Cajon, Calif., near San Diego.

* Johnson is one of only three drivers to rank in NASCAR's top-10 the entire season. Johnson has been in the top-10 for 42 consecutive weeks.

* Johnson scored the second most points on superspeedways in 2002 with 3,813 points. He was 32 points behind teammate and part car owner, Jeff Gordon.

* On superspeedways last season, Johnson had three wins, three poles, six top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. He also led 13 races for 837 laps or 1,128.502 miles.

Jimmie Johnson at California Speedway
* In the Winston Cup Series, Johnson has only competed in one race
     * NAPA Auto Parts 500 - 2002: started 4th and finished 1st
* In the Busch Series, 31st his average qualifying position and 15th was his average finishing position
     * Auto Club 300 - 2000: started 30th and finished 15th
     * Auto Club 300 - 2001: started 33rd and finished 16th

No. Chassis No. 4874
* This is the same Lowe's Chevy that Johnson raced to an 11th place finish in Las Vegas earlier this season.


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson