Long Pond: Jimmie Johnson preview

Team Lowe's Racing building momentum after second win; test session has Team Lowe's feeling good about this weekend. POCONO, Penn. (June 4, 2002) -- Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Chevrolet, is continuing...

Team Lowe's Racing building momentum after second win; test session has Team Lowe's feeling good about this weekend.

POCONO, Penn. (June 4, 2002) -- Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Chevrolet, is continuing to build momentum heading into June following a victory in last Sunday's MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. Team Lowe's Racing has dominated the last two points races and NASCAR's all-star event, The Winston. Johnson has lead the most laps in all three events and posted a win, one top-five and three top-10 finishes.

Just prior to winning the race at Dover, Johnson and the crew had a two-day test session at Pocono Raceway. While testing times were not available, Team Lowe's crew chief Chad Knaus believes that Johnson more than held his own for his first time on the Pocono racetrack.

If history is any indication of how well Team Lowe's will fair this weekend, it should post a strong result. On racetracks 1.5 miles and greater, Team Lowe's is qualifying on average in the 8th position and averaging a 6th-place finish, including three pole positions (Daytona, Talladega and Lowe's Motor Speedway) and a win at California Speedway.

With a victory last Sunday, Johnson jumped three places to second overall in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship standings, 136 points behind leader Sterling Marlin. Johnson built his lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year competition to 26 points.

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts

* Ranks second in the Winston Cup Series Championship standings

* Leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year competition by 26 points (203-177)

* Has won two NASCAR Winston Cup races this season (California and Dover)

* Is tied with three other drivers for most Winston Cup race wins (two) this season

* Has two wins, three top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 13 races

* Has been the highest finishing rookie eight times including seven of the last eight races

* The nine top-10 finishes are the most in the Winston Cup Series (Las Vegas - 6th, Atlanta - 3rd, Darlington - 6th, Bristol - 7th, Texas - 6th, Talladega - 7th, California - 1st, Lowe's Motor Speedway - 7th and Dover - 1st)

* Has three Bud Pole positions this season, the most in NASCAR Winston Cup - , Daytona, Talladega and Lowe's Motor Speedway

* Is the Winston Cup leader in miles and laps lead

* Only the third rookie in history to win the Daytona 500 pole

* Only the second rookie in history to win a pole at Talladega Superspeedway

* Holds the NWC qualifying record at Lowe's Motor Speedway

* Has led five Winston Cup Series races this season (Las Vegas, Talladega, California, Lowe's Motor Speedway and Dover)

* Only one of two drivers this season to win both a pole and a race (Ward Burton)

* Won his first Winston Cup race of his career at California Speedway, his home racetrack

* Won the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series event at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001

Jimmie Johnson at Pocono Raceway

* This will be Johnson's first NASCAR race at Pocono Raceway

No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Fast Facts

* Team Lowe's Racing will bring car 4856

* This is the same race car that Johnson captured pole positions this season at Daytona and Talladega. Johnson drove the race car to 15th and 7th place finishes respectfully at those racetracks.

Jimmie Johnson on Pocono Raceway

"Team Lowe's is really looking forward to racing at Pocono following are test session there last week. Obviously, this will be my first race there, but we're confident that we can have success on that racetrack. Pocono Raceway will be a tough test for us, but we have the tools in place to run well there. The track demands a lot from the race car with a combination of speed and handling. History has shown that Hendrick Motorsports has a strong speedway package and Chad (Knaus) and the crew have proven they know how to build an ideal Lowe's Chevy for this type of racetrack.

"It is going to be a good challenge competing with drivers like Ricky Rudd, Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace who have all had success on this racetrack. Rudd had an unbelievable run there last season taking the pole and winning the race. Elliott and Wallace really know how to get around Pocono with four wins apiece. If we can stay out of trouble, have strong pit stops like last week and be on the lead lap in the last segment of the race, we'll be in good shape to post a strong finish."

Johnson on winning at Dover International Speedway

"It's amazing! It's hard to believe that we're having this kind of success so early in the season. Coming into the race I was telling Chad (Knaus) and the team that Dover was one of my favorite racetracks to compete on. I've had experience racing there in ASA and we raced four times there during the Busch Series. Friday and Saturday's practice sessions allowed me to get a feel for the track in a Winston Cup car and also allowed for me to learn how some of the drivers, who have had success there in the past, like Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd and Jeff (Gordon) got around the track. That was extremely helpful and I was able to apply what I'd learned during practice into the race."

Johnson on the season thus far

"Three poles and two wins this early in the season is incredible. I'm very thankful for all the support from Hendrick Motorsports, Lowe's and the entire No. 48 crew. They continue to provide us with the necessary tools to compete at a high level. Right now it's clicking and I wish we could bottle it up and store it for a hundred years and just keep doing this forever. We're going to enjoy the wave while it's here.

"Within the next month we'll be racing on a few tracks that I have little experience on, like Pocono and Sears Point. We'll need to stay focused and continue to learn each week. There will be a time when the going will be rough, you can count on that, but we are still a rookie team learning the best way to compete in the most competitive racing series out there. If we stay within our means, continue to learn and don't try to do too much, I'm confident that we'll continue to be successful."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Rusty Wallace , Sterling Marlin , Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports