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Will Irish Eyes Be Smiling?

It could be said Irish eyes have been smiling on Jimmie Johnson and Team Lowe’s Racing as the No. 48 team has compiled three top-10 finishes in the first three races of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. While a little Irish luck never hurt anyone, hard work and determination are the real reasons the No. 48 team has turned in consistent performances that have led to Johnson currently leading the driver’s point standings.

However, a notoriously challenging track lies ahead for Johnson as the series travels to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and the tight confines of its .533-mile high-banked concrete oval. The driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS has a March 2010 win at the track, which has since undergone a new configuration, but he has struggled on the track in the past.

Bristol ranks in the bottom four tracks for Johnson in NASCAR’s driver rating system. But lately, the five-time Sprint Cup champion seems to have found his groove, notching five consecutive top-10 finishes starting with his 2010 win.

With one short track in the books with the new sixth-generation car introduced at the start of the season – Phoenix International Raceway, where Johnson finished third – Bristol will provide a different kind of challenge. And while there are sure to be many race fans clad in green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day during Sunday’s Food City 500, Johnson hopes all of those “Irish” eyes will be smiling down on him in victory lane. Here's what he had to say:

What are your thoughts on this weekend’s race at Bristol?

“I think the mechanical aspects will help the cars at Bristol. The last time there, we were very curious about the grinding and what would happen and what wouldn’t. The track just changed in some ways and we will just go back and get in a rhythm and see what happens. For the longest time, we were not competitive at that track and now we’re in the mix and I’m really happy about that.”

Crew chief Chad Knaus also remarked on the trip to Bristol:

How would you size up your expectations for Sunday’s Food City 500?

“I’m looking forward to going to Bristol. We’ve had a lot of solid performances there, lately. The new track configuration is going to lend itself to some superior racing and the tire Goodyear is bringing is impeccable. I’m really looking forward to getting the Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS on track at Bristol.”

Race Statistics

  • One win (March 2010) in 22 starts.
  • One pole (August 2010).
  • Seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10s in 22 starts.
  • Average start is 15.9 and average finish is 14.
  • One DNF (“did not finish” – August 2005).
  • Sprint Cup’s sixth-best driver rating (93.8 average of a possible 150 points).
TAGS: 48 Nation

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1
#24
Jeff Gordon
717
2
#88
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
-24
3
#2
Brad Keselowski
-51
5
#48
Jimmie Johnson
-89
Indy
Started: 11th
Finished: 14th
Pocono
Sunday, August 3rd
1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
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