Jimmie Johnson Fans!
Team 48 Martinsville Speedway Preview
Jimmie Johnson and Team 48 race at Martinsville Speedway Sunday for the sixth of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' 10-race "Chase For The Championship." Johnson's victory Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway clinched the manufacturer's title for Chevrolet and moved him to eighth in the driver's race. Johnson trails leader Kurt Busch by 227 points. Johnson finished fourth in the first race at Martinsville in April leading 103 laps - the most of any driver. The Lowe's team tested at Phoenix International Raceway on Monday and Tuesday.
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON 2004 CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES: "We still have hopes but it's out of our control. It's going to require the No. 8 and the No. 97 to have some bad luck. Right now, with a lot of the drivers having one bad race, maybe a top five is a realistic goal that we can control as a team by our performances on the race track. We need to finish as high as we can in points and do the best we can. If these guys bobble up front, then we have a chance. But with two bad races like we've had, I don't think it's in our control."
JOHNSON'S PREDICTIONS: "In the short format, I think all 10 drivers stand a chance. That's what is so dangerous about the perspective I take on the championship with a 10-race shootout. All the teams are capable of putting together 10 races. That's a short program for what we're used to doing. Now that it's looking like a three-man race, I stack the odds in Jeff's hands. The man has so much experience and knows how to win championships. He's had that pressure on him. He's got four of those trophies already. If you look at what he did tonight and what the team did, they were able to rally back from two incidents and finish second. Those guys know how to do it and if I was in Vegas, I'd put some money on them."
JOHNSON ON CHEVROLET MANUFACTURERS TITLE: "It's been a very special ride for me with Chevrolet. When I was 16 years old, they took a chance with me and put me in their off-road program and have really guided my career and helped me meet the right people and bring me though the ranks. They helped me get involved with Herzog Motorsports and they brought my name to Rick's attention. They've really helped me out in so many ways it's hard to explain. Last year I think I won their 400th win and that was very special for me with the history I've had with Chevrolet. And then to be able to win the race and clinch the Manufacturers' Cup for them this year is just really cool for me. I remember being the young guy under the umbrella and watching all these marks be taken by guys like Jeff Gordon and numerous other top-notch guys and it's pretty cool to know I'm in that company now."
CREW CHIEF CHAD KNAUS ON KEEPING THE TEAM FOCUSED? "These guys are very focused and determined. It's not been an issue to keep them motivated. But yeah, we've had some problems and crashed and blown engines, but we know week in and week out we run competitively."
CHASSIS INFORMATION - Team Lowe's Racing will bring car No. 4877 to Martinsville this weekend. This chassis finished fourth at the first race. It finished second and 36th at Richmond this season as well as 10th at Dover last month.
STATS & FACTS
Johnson has competed in five races at Martinsville Speedway, scoring four top-10 finishes. He has an 11.2 average finish at Martinsville and ranks second among the top-10 drivers. Johnson finished second in this race one year ago and fourth in April.
"Chase For The Championship"
Johnson has an 18.2 average finish in the first five races of NASCAR Nextel Cup "Chase For The Championship."
Changing "Chase" Spots
Only Johnson moved up a position in the "Chase For The Championship" after Saturday's race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Johnson moved from eighth to ninth.
Johnson has scored five victories and 16 top-five finishes this season, one more top five than Dale Earnhardt Jr. Johnson owns five victories in 2004 equaling Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Johnson's victory at Lowe's Motor Speedway was the 18th victory for Chevrolet. Dodge has nine and Ford has four. Chevrolet has clinched the 2004 Manufacturer's Championship, the 28th time they have won the manufacturer's championship.
Sunday's race marks Johnson 107th career start in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. He has a top-10 finish at every track in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series.
All 11 of Johnson's career victories came on superspeedways.
Moving Up The Chart
Johnson's 11 career victories tie him for 46th best in NASCAR history. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman also own 11 victories.
Johnson owns seven career poles including one in May 2004 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
MOST RECENT 2004 RACE - LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY - Jimmie Johnson started eighth and worked on his car's handling in the early portion of the 500-mile race. He mounted a charge with 60 laps remaining before taking over the lead for good with 16 laps remaining. Johnson became the sixth driver to sweep both races at the Charlotte-area track and the first since Dale Earnhardt in 1986. Johnson moved to eighth in the "Chase For The Championship" trailing Kurt Busch by 227 points.
MOST RECENT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY RACE - Johnson started eighth and finished fourth leading 103 laps - the most of any driver. Team Lowe's overcame a broken jack early in the race then battled hard at the end of the race to hang on for fourth place. Johnson led with less than 75 laps remaining, but during a caution he stayed on the track while the rest of the leaders came for new tires. Those new tires allowed three cars to pass Johnson in the closing laps.
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