Hendrick Motorsports

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Homestead Finale: Johnson Poised, Leads Standings

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 18, 2006) - Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe’s Monte Carlo SS Hendrick Motorsports team have done everything they need to do this season to get to this point—one race away from winning the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.

If Johnson finishes 12th or better in Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he will be the 2006 champion and team owner Rick Hendrick will win his sixth owner’s title. Chad Knaus is poised to capture his first award as the championship-winning crew chief.

If he leads one lap and finishes 13th or leads the most laps and finishes 15th, Johnson will stand holding the NEXTEL Cup, regardless of how the four other eligible drivers perform.

Johnson and the team have finished first or second in the last five races, vaulting them from eighth in the standings to the lead they currently hold.  Setting the stage for this final battle, they have scored five victories, 13 top-five finishes, 23 top-10 finishes and one pole in the 35 races this season.

“I seriously don’t have any clue what to expect (heading to Homestead),” said Johnson.  “I don’t have any strategy other than go down and finish ahead (of the other four teams).  It’s just simple.  That’s all we’ve done so far through these last few months. So, we will just go down there and do the same thing we’ve been doing.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself, a lot of confidence in the race team, our equipment, and as my mind plays its games on me, I just fall back on the team; Chad Knaus and Rick Hendrick; all aspects of our race team and how strong they are and how they support me.  It helps keep my mind from doing different things to me.  To be honest, we have to just keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing just one more time, and if we are fortunate enough to do that, we’ll be very happy.”

In five previous Homestead starts, Johnson has two top-five (second place both times) and three top-10 finishes which bodes well for him to continue the streak he is on with consistently finishing in the top five.