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Johnson, Lowe's team steadies for Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 7, 2008) – On paper, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, might have a statistical advantage heading into Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Phoenix International Raceway.

The reigning two-time Sprint Cup champion also is the two-time defending race winner at the one-mile oval. In 10 starts at Phoenix, Johnson has two wins, five top-five finishes and eight top-10s.

But none of that puts Johnson at ease in the desert.

“You just never know what’s going to happen,” said Johnson, who leads Carl Edwards by 106 points in the championship standings. “There are still 400 miles at Homestead-Miami Speedway and 300 at Phoenix.  A lot can happen.

“The comfort margin has closed up even more,” Johnson added. “So it’s still a race. We have to go to Phoenix.  My goal is to outrun those guys.  My goal’s to win the race, try to lead the most laps, gain points on those guys so that we go to Homestead with as many points as we can. That’s truthfully the goal. I hope it works that way. No telling if it will. But that’s what we’re working on.”

Johnson’ team has kept that goal in mind and turned in a top-15 finish despite going a lap down during the last two Sprint Cup events. At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Johnson’s Lowe’s team rallied back to finish second. Last weekend, he crossed the stripe 15th.

“This team is great at trying to come back,” Johnson said. “We never quit. I think that really pays off. At the end of races we make our car better. We had to do that again at Texas. It wasn’t the performance we hoped for, but we did what we could, and we finished okay.”

Johnson will line up for this weekend’s 312-mile event driving Chassis No. 48-520, which is the same car the No. 48 team took to Victory Lane at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in September and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in October.