Jimmie Johnson Takes Atlanta, Posts Back-to-Back Wins
- Mar 19, 2007
- 48 Team
ATLANTA (March 19, 2007) – Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus star in a Kobalt Tools commercial airing frequently during NASCAR race broadcasts this season. On Sunday, the pair starred in the Kobalt Tools 500 victory lane ceremony at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
They got there by Knaus making a chassis adjustment on the final stop of the race, enabling Johnson to make a dramatic pass of Tony Stewart with two laps remaining to secure his second consecutive victory in the 2007 Nextel Cup season.
“We just had a great race car,” said Johnson, who celebrated back-to-back victories for the second time in his career.
“We did the right things to get the car hooked up for that short run. Our car was real good on the long runs but a lacked a little on the short runs. But Chad Knaus got me the right adjustment there. It was a great day for this Kobalt Tools/Lowe’s Monte Carlo.”
Johnson seemed to be the dominate car on Sunday, leading more than 140 laps. But he was third when the race restarted with just 11 laps remaining. When the green flag dropped, Johnson drove past Matt Kenseth for second place then started tracking down leader Stewart.
With five laps to go, Johnson ran side-by-side with Stewart. Even while racing each other, the two drivers turned in the fastest times of all the racers on the track. With two laps remaining Johnson dove under Stewart in turn one and then the pair nearly collided coming off turn two with Stewart brushing the wall.
Johnson pulled away winning by several car lengths. Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Juan Montoya rounded out the top-five finishers.
Johnson said his Lowe’s Monte Carlo featuring the black and silver Kobalt Tools paint scheme was as good as it looked on the track.
“It really was,” said Johnson, who notched the 151st Nextel Cup victory for Hendrick Motorsports. “There were times when we weren’t as strong as we needed to be on the short runs. Tony (Stewart) and some of the other guys had us by a little bit. But at the end of the runs we were spot on.”
“I can’t thank all of my Lowe’s guys for all the hard work and the solid pit stops.”
Johnson looks more and more like he will have a chance to repeat as Nextel Cup champion in 2007. Sunday’s victory moves Johnson to fourth in the season points race, just 28 points behind leader Mark Martin. After finishing 39th at Daytona, he’s rallied for a third-place finish at California Speedway and victories at Las Vegas and Atlanta.
“We are thinking championship already,” Johnson said. “But first we are thinking about making the Chase. We are doing that right now—we just need to keep it up for a few months.”
The victory is the 25th of Johnson’s career. It moves him into a tie for 23rd with Joe Weatherly and Jim Paschal for victories since 1949. Stewart, Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, Bill Elliott and Jeff Gordon are the only active drivers with more victories.
It was Johnson’s second victory at Atlanta and marked the seventh time in eight races he has logged a top-six finish at the 1.5-mile oval in Hampton, Ga.
In the fall of 2004, Johnson won three consecutive races—at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Martinsville and Atlanta. He have a chance to equal that mark when he and his Lowe’s team travel to Bristol Motor Speedway for Sunday’s first short-track race of the season.
It also marks the debut of the Impala SS Car of Tomorrow in Nextel Cup competition.