This weekend Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 travel to Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. The Talladega race marks the fourth of ten 2006 "Chase for the Championship" races. Johnson is eighth in the...
This weekend Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 travel to Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. The Talladega race marks the fourth of ten 2006 "Chase for the Championship" races. Johnson is eighth in the points, 165 behind leader Jeff Burton. On Sunday at Kansas Speedway Johnson led 105 laps but finished 14th after a late race pit stop and penalty.
Johnson and some "Chase" drivers say Sunday's Talladega race might be the biggest "wildcard" of the ten "Chase races. Johnson won at this track in May and has won two of the three restrictor plate races this season.
DRIVER JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:
TEAM MORALE: "It's way up. We've had great pit stops. All of HMS is very happy to have three cars in the Chase. Jeff (Gordon) has been running very strong and unfortunately has had some bad luck, but everybody is doing great. We have all realized that there are more things to winning a championship than just a strong team and skill and maybe even being a team worthy and deserving of a championship. There's a lot more that goes into it. Luckily we've been together long enough and we know that we're going to win a championship and we certainly hope it's this year. Everybody is excited. We're performing well. We're running fast and we've just got to roll with it."
LUCK TO FINISH AT TALLADEGA: "Certainly. And I get upset about the luck because you can't control it, but at the same time it's what makes our sport exciting and unpredictable. Sometimes you just don't understand why it goes the way it does. As I look back on the year, I've had a lot of things go my way and a lot of great luck. So I'm not complaining but I hate being in this position when we have a team that's capable of winning a championship. We can see it slipping through slowly. We still haven't lost it by any means, but it's going the wrong direction right now."
PREPARING FOR A PLATE RACE: "There's not a lot to do from the driver's standpoint in getting ready for it. It's more on the team's shoulders. From a driver's standpoint, when you get in the draft, then you have to deal with things as they pop up in a split second. It's hard on the team and engineers everybody else."
DRAFT AT TALLADEGA BETWEEN "CHASE" AND NON "CHASE" DRIVERS: "It's tough to say. Everybody starts off with the best intentions. Excitement builds and racing starts and it's tough. Nobody wants to crash. Everybody wants points. Everybody is trying to be smart. We just don't know what to expect with the new paving. I'm sure it's going to involve new setups. There are a lot of question marks. I don't think anyone has a clear strategy going into the race. Everybody wants to give everybody a lot of room and not have any problems out there."
Johnson has completed 1,583 of 1,700 laps in his nine starts at Talladega. He has an average starting position of 7.4 -- the best of any active driver - and an average finish of 20.7 He has led 162 laps in eight of the nine races. He owns three poles and one victory at Talladega.
Johnson is one of three drivers to participate in all three "Chase" battles. He finished second in the 2004 "Chase" and fifth last year. This will be Johnson's fifth consecutive season finishing in the top ten in points.
Johnson owns six "Chase" victories -- the most of any driver -- and led 539 laps but suffered five finishes outside the top 30 in his 23 career "Chase" races.
Johnson was the point leader after all but four races in the 26-race regular season.
Johnson's Lowe's Monte Carlo has been running at the end of all 29 races in 2006. He owns four victories -- tied for second with Kenseth, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart -- trailing only Kasey Kahne's five wins. His 18 top-10 finishes is tied with Kenseth and Burton as the most in 2006.
Johnson has been among the top 10 in points for 98 consecutive races, since March 2004 which is the longest current streak. Johnson is fifth on the consecutive races in the modern era's point's top 10 list. Dale Earnhardt's 174 races tops the list.