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At Bristol, Johnson wants another top-five finish

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 22, 2007) – Jimmie Johnson will have a short break this week before heading to the newly repaved Bristol Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.

On Tuesday, Johnson posted a third-place finish at Michigan International Speedway, marking the third consecutive top-five result for the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team. Johnson currently sits sixth in the NEXTEL Cup Series standings going into Bristol.

With everyone focused on the looming Chase for the Championship, Johnson admits that the half-mile Bristol bullring will be even more hostile than usual.

“They get more and more intense,” Johnson said of races at Bristol. “A lot of it depends on where you are in the points.  I think it’s a relaxing period of time for the guys in the top five. Everybody near that 12th position in the points, it’s pretty brutal right now getting ready for the Chase.

“Your whole season is based on getting in the Chase.”

Hoping to seal his spot in the championship field, Johnson is looking to overcome the treacherous oval this weekend and land a solid finish in the 10th race for the Chevrolet Impala SS “Car of Tomorrow” this season.

“I love to go watch the races there,” Johnson said of Bristol.  “I think it is a great place for a spectator.  But when you are in the car, you know how you seem to be escaping disaster multiple times each lap.”

Johnson has earned six top-10 finishes in 11 races at Bristol, with an average starting spot of 18th and average finish of 15.5. His career-best result came in August 2004 when the Lowe’s Chevy finished third after leading 20 laps.

“It is a track where when you see it in the rear-view mirror you are relieved that you got out of there,” Johnson said. “It’s a rush to drive the track. No doubt about it. But you are in a different mindset when you have something to lose when you go there verses if you are a fan or have a great position in the points.

“The place can be a lot of fun then.”

The NEXTEL Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway will air live Saturday on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.