Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Team Lowe's Racing crew are looking for their fourth consecutive Martinsville Speedway Sprint Cup Series race win. In addition to his four wins at the half-mile Virginia track, Johnson has finished 10th or better in...
Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Team Lowe's Racing crew are looking for their fourth consecutive Martinsville Speedway Sprint Cup Series race win. In addition to his four wins at the half-mile Virginia track, Johnson has finished 10th or better in all but one of his 12 Martinsville Cup starts.
Your off week has been busy. You've done some testing, right? "We were supposed to test Kentucky (Speedway), but weather came in, so we went to Rockingham (North Carolina Speedway) on Tuesday.
"Our goal was to go to Kentucky to work on the big track stuff, but the weather messed us up there. We had the tires and the cars ready, and going to a track, period, we felt would be helpful, so we went (to Rockingham) to work through some things. We don't race on a track like that and that track's so old and rough, we're not sure what's really going to apply (to other tracks), but we have a good direction.
"We're going to test again next week and we feel like we learned a little bit (at Rockingham). We'll roll it into the Kentucky test and if the weather works with us, we'll learn a lot there. That's the test session we're really looking forward to. We've got all four days (March 24-27) scheduled, so hopefully we'll get it in. It's all relative to the rain."
If all goes as planned, you'll have been in a race car for seven days in a row by the time the Martinsville race is completed. Does that put a lot of extra strain on you? "This early in the year, no it doesn't. We just came off the off season. I know we only have three of these (scheduled off weekends in the season) a year, so it would be great to take advantage of it and do something else, but we haven't had the runs like we want, so there's only one way to correct that and that's to get out there and start testing and get to work. I'm eager to do it.
"The one component that's difficult is on the crew guys. I feel for them. They've been working their tails off, and then the added testing is even more for them. It's really difficult on them, and I really appreciate their desire and willingness to test and make everything come together."
You seem to have Martinsville figured out. To what do you attribute your ability to get around that race track so well? "There are certain rhythms at Martinsville that I fortunately found and picked up after my first year of being there. My first race, I did not have the rhythm of the track, and there are a lot of components that go into it. There's really, in my opinion, a rhythm that's necessary. I still may struggle, even at the start of practice, to find the rhythm, but once the race starts, it always comes back to me now. I know what I'm looking for, and I know what that rhythm is for the 500 laps we make there, and I can usually get good performances out of it."
Is that information something you share with the other Hendrick drivers, or do you keep that insight to yourself? "It's certainly something we all talk about. Earlier in my career, I was really focused on set braking points and turning points and references around the track. But as I listened to Jeff (Gordon), I realized it wasn't so much set reference points. It's more about a feeling and a rhythm.
"It's something I worked with Kyle Busch on in the past and he's had some great runs there, and Casey (Mears) and I have had those conversations. (Dale Earnhardt) Jr.'s always been good there. That's one of his better tracks. I think he already understands it, but we'll certainly get in there and talk about it all and help each other out."
JOHNSON VICTORY LANES CELEBRATION: Chandra and Jimmie Johnson, along with Pattie and Kyle Petty and Lynda and Richard Petty, will celebrate the first anniversary of Jimmie Johnson's Victory Lanes, a 5,100-square-foot bowling alley at the Victory Junction Gang Camp on Thursday, March 27, from 3 to 5 p.m. ET. A select number of fans can still attend the celebration by purchasing tickets through www.jimmiejohnsonfoundation.org. A limited number of tickets remain, and all proceeds benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp.