Johnson looks to secure second place overall in Miami HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 11, 2003) -- While the 2003 Winston Cup championship has been decided, there is still much at stake heading into the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami...
Johnson looks to secure second place overall in Miami
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 11, 2003) -- While the 2003 Winston Cup championship has been decided, there is still much at stake heading into the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend. Six drivers in NASCAR's Top-10 are separated by a mere 65 points or less. Team Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson controls his own destiny Sunday, and with a strong finish, should claim second-place overall in the final standings. Entering the event, Johnson is 38 points ahead of third place driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 103 points ahead of fellow sophomore driver Ryan Newman and 137 points ahead of his teammate and co-owner of the Lowe's Chevy, Jeff Gordon.
To make the season-finale even more interesting, an extensive reconfiguration of Homestead-Miami Speedway was recently completed. While the actual track length did not change, it significantly varied the banking to 20 degrees, which definitely will increase overall speed on a track that many felt was one of the flattest on the circuit.
Jimmie Johnson Quotes
WHAT KINDS OF SPEEDS ARE YOU EXPECTING AT HOMESTEAD? "Wicked fast (laughs). I'm looking forward to hearing from the Busch guys on what it's like. I'm not really sure. I've heard 188 and 189mph from some people. I think it's going to be pretty quick."
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO STAY IN THE TOP-10 IN THE POINTS FOR SUCH A LONG PERIOD OF TIME? "I think being in the situation I'm in -- driving a Hendrick Motorsports car -- is what has put me in that position. From the competitive side, the first two or three races are key. Luckily we've been able to finish well at Daytona, Rockingham, Atlanta and Vegas to open the past two seasons. But mostly just being in great equipment, stuff that doesn't fall apart and that's competitive, is important."
LAST YEAR YOU FELL OFF AT THE END OF THE SEASON BUT THIS YEAR YOU'VE DONE JUST THE OPPOSITE. WHAT KIND OF FOCUS HAS THAT TAKEN?) "I think the majority of it is experience. Last year, none of us had ever been in a situation where there was so much pressure and so much on the line. I don't think we knew how to handle it. During the off-season last year, we tried to learn from our mistakes and recognize some situations that wouldn't get to us this season. We are in a much better mindset this year as a team and I think it shows by our performance down the stretch."
IN YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR 2003, DID YOU SEE YOURSELF BEING ONE OR TWO SHORT STEPS FROM THE NASCAR WINSTON CUP CHAMPIONSHIP? "I had hoped we might be in a position to possibly win it based on our performance last year, but realistically our goal was to finish in the top-three. Luckily, we've given ourselves a chance to achieve that goal this weekend."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOUR TEAM TO FINISH OUT THIS YEAR AND HEAD INTO THE OFF-SEASON ON A HIGH NOTE? "It's so important -- especially when you've got a long one coming up like we do when the bodies have to be cut off of every single car we have and we have to start over again. So there has to be some momentum to get through the winter that's coming up. It's very important."