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Jimmie Johnson used to own Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Not necessarily in the literal sense, but there was a time the 1.5-mile track was dubbed “Jimmie’s House” by many. The key word, however: “was.” From 2003 to 2005, Johnson won five of six races there and, in 2003, threw in the first of his four wins in the Sprint All-Star race. Since 2005, however, the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion appears to have leased his “house” to some other drivers. Since then, his only win came in October 2009. Still, he would go on to win his fourth of five championships the following month.
But things may be looking up for Johnson. He won his fourth All-Star race in May, making him the all-time winningest driver in the non-points event, breaking a tie with Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon. And in the 600-mile event at the track the following weekend, things looked optimistic for another good finish when a battery problem relegated Johnson to a 22nd-place result.
Just three points behind leader Matt Kenseth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Johnson looks to add to his tally of four top-10 finishes and three top-fives in the first four races of NASCAR’s 10-race playoff. A sixth-place finish Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City narrowed the gap to Kenseth, who led off the Chase with two wins. Johnson is looking for his second win in the Chase, as well, to go with his dominating performance Sept. 29 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
A win in Saturday evening’s Bank of America 500 would certainly help Johnson’s Chase chances. It also would bring his win total at Charlotte to seven, making him the all-time winningest driver at the track and breaking a tie with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip. Perhaps the sweetest part of all, Johnson could then regain ownership of what was once “Jimmie’s House.”
Johnson's thoughts about racing at Charlotte this weekend:
“I’m excited to be racing at home in Charlotte this week. It’s just 30 minutes from the house and I can get home quickly and see everybody and sleep in my own bed. But the track has been really good to us over the years and I certainly need another strong performance there, the way things are going in the Chase right now. So, I’m excited to get back. I’ll be around my immediate family and then around my extended family with Hendrick Motorsports and Lowe’s. There will be a lot of Hendrick Motorsports employees there, too. From spring to fall at Charlotte, temperature-wise, usually ends up being about the same. The new cars have evolved some, so I know our setup will be different than what we ran in the spring. So I’m excited about that and I feel that we’re better now. Of course, the whole field is better, too (laughs). I feel good about it. It will be a little bit of a different combination.”