Want to know even more about Jimmie Johnson and Team 48? See what journalists from around the country are saying about Team Lowe's Racing.
Last week in Bristol, Jimmie Johnson clinched his spot in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup, meaning he can race for one thing over the next two weeks in Atlanta and Richmond: a win. Not only would a win give Team Lowe's Racing even more momentum heading into NASCAR's postseason, it would also give Johnson enough bonus points to start the Chase where he could have the Chase lead before the green flag even dropped in Chicago. As it stands now, Johnson would be in a four-way tie for first with Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart, all who have three wins in 2012.
The 1.5 mile track in Atlanta is one that has been kind to Johnson, although he hasn't visited Victory Lane since 2007, when he swept both events at the track. If nothing else, with much of the Chase schedule made up of mile and a half tracks, it will be important to continue to prove that Team 48 has a machine that's a step above most of the field when the green flag drops.
Here were some of Jimmie Johnson's thoughts heading into this week's race...
Atlanta has a really rough surface and has had a lot of close finishes. Do you have a memorable moment from your three wins?
“I do I remember a really tight battle with Tony Stewart one year. I got by him with a lap or two to go. Probably the most memorable win, must have been 2004. The plane crash was the weekend before in Martinsville. Then we came to the racetrack about as low as you can be emotionally. I ran second and third most of the day and, on the last run, found a way by Mark Martin, who was driving the wheels off his car. I don’t think I have ever driven a racecar that hard. I got by him late in the race and was able to hold him off to win. A very emotional day, not only for me, but for all of Hendrick Motorsports and, more importantly, for Rick and Linda (Hendrick) and the families involved to give them something positive in just the worst week ever.”
What do you like about Atlanta? Do you feel it fits your driving style?
“It does. This car, especially, slides a lot so the tire and the surface, with all the sliding, it wears the tires out quickly. I typically do well on those types of tracks. It took us a little time to sort out the COT (Car of Tomorrow) there and I feel like I have been a lot more competitive over the last trip or two. I’m excited to go back. I think we will have a good shot at winning. It’s a unique track that challenges you, honestly, every foot around the racetrack.”
Talk about qualifying at Atlanta.
“The speeds are high and it’s an evening qualifying session. The track is so rough that, when you tape it up and try to run wide open around that place, the bumps are so big and the car’s sealed off so tight on the ground that you are literally just bottoming out through every swell, every bump, trying to hold it wide open. You’re fighting the wheel and it’s a wild lap. I’m glad you only run one.”