Jimmie Johnson comes to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway fresh off of his first top-five finish of the season. While the numbers don’t guarantee a jackpot ending to the weekend, Johnson’s odds look good at the 1.5-mile oval.
Johnson will drive his No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet in the eponymously titled race. Continuing to collect points is a priority for Johnson as he finds himself in unfamiliar territory, in 37th position in the driver standings, 71 points out of first place. It’s the first time in Johnson’s full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career that he has found himself this far behind in the point standings two races into the season. (In 2007, he left Daytona in 37th position.)
Johnson and his team will need to focus on the task at hand again this weekend as they try to climb out of the deficit. If last weekend’s rebound and their track record at Las Vegas is any indication, they are well on their way to adding to Johnson’s point total.
Johnson’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway Quick Stats:
· Johnson has four wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, including three consecutive wins (2005-2007) in 10 starts.
· His most recent win came in 2010.
· He has earned four top-five and five top-10 finishes in 10 starts.
· His average start is 15.2 and average finish is 10.6. He has completed 2,688 of 2,691 laps (99.9 percent) and has led 320 laps.
· He has finished every race in which he has competed at the 1.5-mile oval.
· He has the second-highest driver rating. In 14 statistical categories, he is ranked first or second in seven and in the top-five in 12.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, Driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports:
Are you looking forward to Las Vegas?
“I always enjoy Las Vegas. It has been a good track for us, at times. There always seems to be a lot going on. Kobalt Tools is sponsoring the race, so we will have a lot of stuff going on and it will be a busy weekend. I’m enjoying a little down time with the family but am looking forward to getting to Las Vegas and continuing on the good momentum we had at Phoenix.”
You had a good run at Phoenix. How important was that for the team to start collecting points?
“Obviously, it was very important. I’m really proud of the way the Lowe’s team came together. My guys worked hard and we focused on what we needed to do. We had a great car – a car that could win – but we had a little hiccup. We were able to come back from that and were able to pull off a top-five finish. It was exactly what we needed. We just need to keep doing that week after week.”
Do you feel like you are going to have to change any strategies considering how big of a hole you are already in with the points?
“No, no strategy change. The end result is winning races. The worst-case scenario would be fighting for a wild card spot (in the Chase) and that boils down to winning races. It is no different than if we won the Daytona 500. We want to go to the racetrack and perform as well as we can each and every week and win races. That is our agenda.”