California native Jimmie Johnson ready to tackle Sears Point Raceway. SONOMA, Calif. - The sky has been the limit for Jimmie Johnson in his rookie season on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit, and there's no sign that he's going to slow down...
California native Jimmie Johnson ready to tackle Sears Point Raceway.
SONOMA, Calif. - The sky has been the limit for Jimmie Johnson in his rookie season on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit, and there's no sign that he's going to slow down any time soon.
Johnson, who drives the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet for Rick Hendrick/Jeff Gordon, has shocked the NASCAR world during his rookie campaign. It all started at the Daytona 500 when he qualified on the pole, and it peaked with victories in Fontana (Calif.) and Dover (Del.).
It has all been a whirlwind for Johnson, who was toiling in the Busch Grand National Series one year ago before Gordon handpicked him for the No. 48 ride. He now sits in the top five in points entering the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Sears Point Raceway, June 20-23.
"I could get greedy and say I want to win every race but what I am doing already is pretty incredible," said Johnson. "I'm just trying to stay as consistent as I can on the track."
Johnson, who is battling Ryan Newman for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award, will be one of the young guns when NASCAR visits Sears Point Raceway for the Dodge/Save Mart 350. Johnson tested at Sears Point in April and was the fastest out of six drivers on the 12-turn, 2-mile road course.
"I enjoy road courses and I'm looking forward to coming out to Sears Point for the race," said Johnson, whose background includes off-road racing and supercross. "I enjoy downshifting, braking and the fact that you have to out-think people on a road course. Having Jeff as a coach is going to be pretty good, too. I know he's been pretty good out there."
Gordon has actually won three of the last four events at Sears Point and should be Johnson's best resource. Johnson isn't a total stranger to Sears Point, having attended the Skip Barber Racing School when he was 15 years old. He also competed in a few Sports Car Club of America events on the twisting circuit.
He might not be considered one of the favorites at Sears Point, but, then again, he was an afterthought before Daytona.
"Winning the pole at Daytona was easier than I thought it would be," Johnson chuckled. "I can't take credit for it, though. With all of the resources we have at Hendrick Motorsports, all I had to do was mash the gas. But, seriously, the Winston Cup has been the toughest thing I've ever done. You don't realize it until you get out on the track with those guys each week."
Johnson raced in the Busch Series for two years before elevating to Cup, taking eighth place in the standings in 2001 driving for Herzog Motorsports. He placed an impressive 10th in his rookie year in 2000. It was Johnson's effort that caught the eye of Hendrick and Gordon, who were looking for a young talent.
"Jeff is a great security net for me to fall back on," Johnson said. "The reason I have been so successful is because of the type of person that Jeff is. He is secure with the driver that he is and with what he's accomplished. He's willing to tell me what I need to do to get to that level. At the same time, we've been able to form a good friendship. I feel I've got the best of both worlds."