Phoenix: Jimmie Johnson preview

Johnson looking to extend his top-five streak in the "Valley of the Sun" AVONDALE, Ariz. (Oct. 29, 2003) -- With three consecutive top-fives and four top-10s in the last four races, Team Lowe's Racing heads west to the "Valley of the Sun"...

Johnson looking to extend his top-five streak in the "Valley of the Sun"

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Oct. 29, 2003) -- With three consecutive top-fives and four top-10s in the last four races, Team Lowe's Racing heads west to the "Valley of the Sun" riding a wave of momentum that they hope carries them up the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings.

With the Winston Cup championship all but decided, the battle for second place is heating up. In the last month, Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson has steadily climbed his way to fourth overall and moved to within just eight points of second place. With only three races remaining in the 2003 season, he'll look to continue his charge up the standings with a strong finish in this weekend's Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Phoenix International Raceway

"I'm really looking forward to going back to Phoenix. Typically, flat tracks don't fit my style. In fact, it's just one of three tracks in the series where I haven't posted a career top-10 (Infineon and Richmond are the other two). However if our performance at New Hampshire, a similar style track, was any indication of what we can accomplish, then we should be able to cross Phoenix off that list this weekend.

"I'm certainly glad that Jeff (Gordon) tested there recently. At most of the tracks we run on, the veteran drivers are at an advantage because of their experience. If we utilize the knowledge that the No. 24 team got out of its test, I expect us to be in good shape on Sunday."

Jimmie Johnson on his performance the last few weeks

"The last four races or so have really given this team the confidence it needs heading down the stretch. Matt (Kenseth) has all but sewn up the championship, so the real battle is for second place. With only three races left, we still have some fight left in us. I'm confident that we can ride the momentum we've built over the last month to finish the season on a high note."

Jimmie Johnson on the "Racing for Relief" program

"We launched this program a few weeks ago at Dover and were able to raise nearly $70,000 for the American Red Cross and the hurricane Isabel relief efforts. This week the program will support the relief efforts for those affected by the California wildfires. As a Southern California native, this disaster hits close to home, and Racing for Relief allows me the opportunity to pitch in and lend a hand by doing what I do best -- driving."

Chad Knaus on racing at Phoenix International Raceway

"Phoenix is going to be tough. The No. 24 was there testing recently, so that will help us not walk into the weekend blind, but you just don't know what you have to deal with until you get your driver out there in your race car.

"I would also say that Phoenix wasn't one of our strongest tracks last season. We had to use a provisional to qualify, but we raced well and were able to crack the top-15. But it's also similar to New Hampshire, and we all know how well Jimmie ran at New Hampshire this year."

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts

* Johnson ranks fourth in the Winston Cup Series championship standings, just eight points out of second.

* Johnson has three wins (Lowe's Motor Speedway and two wins at New Hampshire International Speedway), 11 top-five (Daytona -- 3rd, Lowe's Motor Speedway -- 1st, Chicagoland -- 3rd, New Hampshire -- 1st, Watkins Glen -- 3rd, Bristol -- 5th, Darlington -- 3rd, New Hampshire -- 1st, Lowe's Motor Speedway -- 3rd, Martinsville -- 2nd and Atlanta -- 3rd), 17 top-10 finishes (Daytona -- 3rd, Rockingham -- 8th, Bristol -- 8th, Texas -- 8th, Martinsville -- 9th, Lowe's Motor Speedway -- 1st, Chicagoland -- 3rd, New Hampshire -- 1st, Watkins Glen -- 4th, Bristol -- 5th, Darlington -- 3rd, New Hampshire -- 1st, Dover -- 8th, Kansas -- 7th, Lowe's Motor Speedway -- 3rd, Martinsville -- 2nd and Atlanta -- 3rd).

* Johnson has led in 15 out of the 32 races this season (Daytona, Las Vegas, Talladega, Lowe's, Dover, Pocono, Pepsi 400, Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Michigan, Darlington, New Hampshire, Talladega, Kansas and Lowe's Motor Speedway).

* Johnson is the only driver to be ranked in the top-10 all season and has been in the top-10 for 66 consecutive weeks dating back to March of 2002, the longest streak in Winston Cup.

* Johnson has won two pole positions in 2003 (Pocono and Kansas).

* Johnson has six career Winston Cup victories and six career Winston Cup pole positions.

* Johnson won the 2003 The Winston all-star event at Lowe's Motor Speedway, taking home the largest purse in its 19-year history, $1 million.

Jimmie Johnson at Phoenix International Raceway

* Johnson has competed in one Winston Cup race at PIR, qualifying 37th and finishing 15th in last year's event.

* In two Busch Series races, 5th was his average qualifying position and 35th was his average finishing position

No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Fast Facts

* Team Lowe's Racing will bring car 4847.

* This is the same Lowe's Chevy that Johnson drove to victory lane twice this season at New Hampshire.

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