Pocono II: Jimmie Johnson preview

Johnson hopes to continue hot streak at Pocono Raceway LONG POND, Penn. (July 22, 2003) - Team Lowe's Racing is coming off two amazing weeks of racing, earning a win last week at New Hampshire International Speedway and a third place finish at...

Johnson hopes to continue hot streak at Pocono Raceway

LONG POND, Penn. (July 22, 2003) - Team Lowe's Racing is coming off two amazing weeks of racing, earning a win last week at New Hampshire International Speedway and a third place finish at Chicagoland Speedway two weeks ago. Question is, can they continue this hot streak and gain more ground on the overall points leader? Crew chief Chad Knaus and the rest of Team Lowe's think they can and are excited to prove it this week in their return to Pocono Raceway, site of Team Lowe's first pole of the season.

Team Lowe's driver Jimmie Johnson is looking forward to the challenges Pocono offers a driver, with its distinctly different turns and shifting points, but he also wants to finish the race stronger than his 12th-place finish in June.

Jimmie Johnson on the Pocono race this weekend

"We're going to go to Pocono and see if we can do it (win) again. Last weekend (at NHIS) was a real good weekend for us. Obviously that is a tough race track and we're real proud of what we were able to do there. Pocono has been a good track for us and hopefully we'll go up there and have a good run."

Do you consider yourself a contender for the championship at this point?
"Yeah, I definitely think we are. We're a little further behind than where we'd ideally want to be, but we feel very good right now."

How will you attack Pocono? Will you use your road course driving skills?
"Luckily, this will be my fourth time there in my career and I know the track well now. We can unload off the truck and I'll know what line I need to take and where my shifting and braking points are, so I'm excited to go back. It's one of the tougher places because it does drive like a road course. However, once you get a few experiences there, it really makes a difference. We just hope everything stays together and we have another solid day."

Would you rate Pocono as one of the tougher tracks to learn?
"It's up there, that's for sure. It's also one of those tracks that once you make a lap, you like the track. Casey Mears and some of my other friends that are rookies this year have said the same things I said last year. It's a tough place, but it's a blast. All of the corners are different, there are some bumps, you have to shift and you have a mile-long front straightaway where you really get moving. There are a lot of fun elements to the race track."

Regarding Ricky Rudd and his 700th consecutive career start, is that a big deal?
"Wow, I definitely think so. That's a lot of races. I remember being a kid and watching him race the No. 15 Wrangler car and a variety of different race cars. That is a lot of racing. I respect him for what he has been able to accomplish and how many years he's stuck to the sport. I'm sure he's been through thick and thin, and to still walk through the garage with a smile on his face like he does, that says a lot about him."

Do you think anybody in the garage right now will eventually match that number of consecutive starts?
"I'm so early in my career, I don't even know how many years that number would take. I would imagine it's quite a few. And I would say in this day and age, and with the stresses and pressures of our sport, it would be hard for anyone to reach that number."

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts

* Johnson ranks fifth in the Winston Cup Series championship standings, 419 points behind leader Matt Kenseth and just 43 out of the fourth place overall.

* Johnson has two wins (Lowe's Motor Speedway and New Hampshire International Speedway), four top-five (Daytona - 3rd, Lowe's Motor Speedway - 1st, Chicagoland - 3rd and New Hampshire - 1st) and eight top-10 finishes (Daytona - 3rd, Rockingham - 8th, Bristol - 8th, Texas - 8th, Martinsville - 9th, Lowe's Motor Speedway - 1st, Chicagoland - 3rd and New Hampshire - 1st).

* Johnson has led in nine out of the 19 races this season (Daytona, Las Vegas, Talladega, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Dover, Pocono, Pepsi 400, Chicagoland and New Hampshire)

* Johnson has been in the top 10 in NASCAR Winston Cup points for 52 consecutive weeks, the longest current streak in Winston Cup.

* Johnson won his first pole position of 2003 at Pocono Raceway.

* Johnson is only the seventh driver in Winston Cup history to win a race starting from 35th or worse.

* Johnson has five career Winston Cup victories, tying him for 58th on the all-time NASCAR win list.

* Johnson won 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 Pocono Raceway

No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Fast Facts

* Team Lowe's Racing will bring car 4866

* This is the same Lowe's Monte Carlo that Johnson captured the June pole with at Pocono and drove to a 12th-place finish. Johnson also drove this Chevy to 3rd and 15th-place finishes at Pocono last season.

Broadcast Schedule

* Qualifying - Friday, July 25 at 3:05 p.m. (ET) on SPEED; 3 p.m. (ET) on MRN

* Race - Sunday, July 27 at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on TNT; 12:30 p.m. (ET) on MRN

-hm/tlr-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus