Las Vegas: Jimmie Johnson preview

Team Lowe's looks to continue hot streak. Johnson betting on another top-10 performance in Vegas. LAS VEGAS (February 27, 2003) - Coming off the heels of two consecutive top-10 finishes, Team Lowe's could not think of a better place to...

Team Lowe's looks to continue hot streak.
Johnson betting on another top-10 performance in Vegas.

LAS VEGAS (February 27, 2003) - Coming off the heels of two consecutive top-10 finishes, Team Lowe's could not think of a better place to race while on this hot streak. Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a welcome site for driver Jimmie Johnson who posted his first career Winston Cup top-10 finish.

The so-called 1.5-mile "Cookie Cutter" tracks like Las Vegas were strengths for Team Lowe's all of last season. In addition to posting a top-10 at Las Vegas, Johnson posted top-10 finishes at Atlanta (3rd), Texas (6th), Chicagoland (4th), Michigan (7th), Kansas (10th), and Miami (8th), to name a few.

Another reason Team Lowe's is excited to return to Las Vegas is the fact that Team Lowe's posted the fastest practice speed during the four-day test session held during the last week of January.

Jimmie Johnson reflects on the first two races of the season

"The main thing for us to do is continue to work hard and try and avoid the peaks and valleys that we had last season. We have a lot of confidence coming into Vegas, especially with the way we tested there a month ago and coming off two top 10 finishes. There are so many races left in the season, but I think we have four or five of the next six on 1.5-mile tracks, which is the type of track that we ran really strong on last season. We just need to continue to build on from last season and translate what we learned then into success this season.

"Last season we left some opportunities for points slip through our fingers, so this season we need to capitalize on the situations that we can and get points. Last week was a perfect example. We had a good race car at the beginning of the race, but it started to get really tight and I couldn't do much with it. Chad and I had talked before the race about taking care of the equipment and saving the tires as best I could for the end of the race. I didn't force things and Chad made a solid call for four tires in the pits and just the right amount of fuel, and with 25 laps to go when the other cars were losing it, we were able to pick-up some late positions and finish with a top-10. To me, that's just showing how Chad and I and the rest of Team Lowe's are growing and learning from last season. That eighth place was my personal best finish at Rockingham, and we were the top Chevrolet on the day. If we can continue to stay hot and run the way we have the last two weeks, things will take care of themselves."

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Las Vegas

"Team Lowe's came off a good race at Rockingham and we're excited to get to Vegas with the new (Chevrolet) body to see how it's all going to shake out. We had a test there that went really well. The car responded as we wanted to things that were familiar. We're hoping it's not going to be a huge difference for us as far as set-up goes and that we can go out there and get some more points.

"During the January test, I thought that the track is really starting to come around. It is starting to develop three grooves, which is going to offer the fans some great racing. More often then not, tracks take a few years to break in and really start to show what type of racing fans can expect to see. Las Vegas is just starting to come around and Sunday's race should be a lot of fun with a lot of opportunities to pass."

Chad Knaus on the 2003 Team Lowe's

"Rockingham showed the character of Team Lowe's. This is a young team that continues to grow each week and come together as a team. We only had one hour of practice last week and we were forced to take our first provision of the season and start 37th for the race, but we were able to come out of there with an eighth place finish. That finish shows how dedicated this crew is to improving and becoming better. Returning for our second season, we'd like to better our finishes at each track from last season and for the second straight week we did just that. These guys worked hard all weekend and stayed on their toes. I'm really proud of these guys, and we're looking for more starting this weekend in Las Vegas."

Chad Knaus on Las Vegas

"Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be a good test for Team Lowe's. Rockingham was a solid test for our intermediate track setups in terms of shocks and springs, but Las Vegas will challenge our horsepower and aerodynamics with the new 2003 Monte Carlo body style. We were the top-finishing Chevrolet in Rockingham and we finished eighth. There were only two Monte Carlo's in the top-15, so we still have a way to go on figuring out this new body style. Fortunately for Team Lowe's, we had a very successful test session at Las Vegas in late January, where we posted the fastest lap time in race trim during the four-day session."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus