Richmond II: Jimmie Johnson preview

After dominating last week's Sprint Cup event at Auto Club Speedway and picking up his third win of the season, Jimmie Johnson turns his focus to Richmond International Raceway, site of the last event before the 10-race Chase for the Championship...

After dominating last week's Sprint Cup event at Auto Club Speedway and picking up his third win of the season, Jimmie Johnson turns his focus to Richmond International Raceway, site of the last event before the 10-race Chase for the Championship begins.

The southern California win allowed Johnson to break a tie with Mark Martin for 17th-place on NASCAR's All-Time Wins list with 36 victories.

Johnson swept Richmond last season with wins at the spring and fall events, but is looking to redeem himself after an 11-car accident relegated him to a 30th-place finish in May.


With Johnson clinching a spot in the Chase for the Championship at California, he is officially competing for his third consecutive Sprint Cup Series Championship. The only other driver in NASCAR's history to accomplish that feat is Cale Yarborough.

This is the fifth year Johnson has made the field for the Chase. He and Matt Kenseth, who is not locked in yet, are the only two drivers who have been in the Chase each year since its inception.


For the second year in a row, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Golf Tournament and Dinner Auction raised over $500,000. Proceeds will benefit the San Diego area, including San Diego Habitat for Humanity, which is building four homes on newly-named and formed Foundation Lane. Johnson and his wife Chandra also passed the keys to the first homeowner, an El Cajon resident and employee of the city's police department.


Johnson's Helmet of Hope, which he wore during his winning performance at Auto Club Speedway, was one of many items for bid at the JJF dinner auction. The helmet was purchased for $18,000 and contributed to the $150,000 raised at the auction.


WHAT MAKES RICHMOND UNIQUE FOR YOU? "I guess it's one of the very few d-shaped, .75-mile ovals that we have. They've done an amazing job with the transitions into the corners so you can run side-by-side. Yes, you're a little tight especially off of (turn) two but it's kind of what a d-shaped race track will deal. They've done a great job working this track and it's always been one of my favorites and for fans and drivers for years."

THEY HAVEN'T PAVED THE TRACK IN FOUR YEARS, DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT'S GOING TO BE ANY ADVANTAGE OR DISADVANTAGE? "I think that for our cars the older the surface the better. The track is really holding up well, there aren't a lot of bumps. Doesn't seem like the asphalt is pulling apart, but the asphalt is losing grip and I think that's a good thing for our stock cars. It allows a second and third lane to come into play and be useful to put on great racing. I think this track has held up over time, they just need to leave it alone. It's done a great job for us."

ON YOUR VICTORY AT CALIFORNIA AND HOW IT RELATES TO ENTERING THE CHASE: "I'm just not sure how it's going to shake out. The weak spot for us has been the 1.5-mile and two-mile tracks, and the Chase is full of those. In our results at the start of the season and early summer, there were some flashes of hope in there, but we weren't where we needed to be.

"Just before Chicago there were a couple of races where we were competitive and running well. I think Michigan was really the first sign that we were working in the right direction. We've been getting better each week, and this car is still so finicky. The second Michigan we got a little more aggressive with the setup of the car thinking we could get away from it, and it turned away from us and was loose and got into bad position there. The last couple races for us have been odd tracks for us and crashing and all that stuff.

"I'm happy to win and win on a big track, because of the bulk of the races are on these big downforce tracks, and I feel like we're doing the right things to have a fighting chance at the championship and that's really all we can ask for."


Richmond International Raceway

* Johnson has made 13 Cup Series starts at Richmond International Raceway, posting two wins, three top-five and three top-10 finishes.

* He has won two pole positions there -- Sept. 2002 and Sept. 2007

* Johnson has completed 91.6% (4768 of 5203) of competition laps at the .75-mile oval and has led 337. * Johnson has an average start and finish of 12.6 and 18.8.


* Johnson will pilot brand new chassis No. 520 in Saturday night's Sprint Cup event at Richmond.

* The backup chassis, No. 424, has two Richmond wins on its resume, May and Sept. 2007.

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson , Cale Yarborough