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Johnson to make 300th Cup start at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 23, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson will record his 300th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start when he takes the green flag on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. The race will start at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.

Johnson’s accomplishments in his first 299 starts are almost unprecedented in the history of the sport. Since making his debut in 2001, he has won a historic four consecutive championships (2006-2009) and collected 50 victories. He ranks tied for 10th all-time in wins with NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Junior Johnson and nominee Ned Jarrett. Of the 12 drivers who also have recorded 50 victories only three have done it faster than Johnson; teammate Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, (232 races), Darrell Waltrip (278) and David Pearson (293).

“I can’t believe it’ll be my 300th start this weekend,” said the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. “It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was climbing in a Cup car for the first time. It’s been a pretty amazing ride so far, and I still can’t believe I get to drive racecars for a living. It’s pretty cool. I’m also very proud of my team and what we’ve done together and also what I’ve accomplished as a driver. We’ve had a lot of pretty cool stuff happen to us in 300 starts. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead for this team. I know we have a lot of racing left in us.”

In his 299 starts, the 34 year-old El Cajon, Calif., native has tallied 122 top-five finishes, 186 top-10s, 123 pole positions and last week at Texas Motor Speedway he surpassed 10,000 laps led. Going into this weekend’s 500-mile event at Talladega Superspeedway, Johnson has led 10,037 laps total during his career.

Johnson’s win percentage is 16.7, which ranks him fifth all-time behind Herb Thomas (21.1 percent), Tim Flock (20.9), David Pearson (18.3) and Richard Petty (16.9). Johnson’s resume includes victories at every type of track (superspeedways, intermediate and short tracks) but road courses. The Sprint Cup Series will visit Infineon Raceway on June 20 and Wakins Glen (N.Y.) International on Aug. 8.

By the Numbers
Highlights from Johnson’s career:

1 His first start was a rough one. On October 7, 2001, at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson wrecked, finishing 39th.

13 At Auto Club Speedway on April 28, 2002, Johnson picked up his first victory in his 13th race, second-quickest among drivers with 50 wins. Lee Petty, who captured his first victory in his fifth start, is the only member of the “50 Wins Club” to nab his first victory faster.

51 Johnson won NASCAR’s longest race – the 600-mile event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway – for the first time, on May 25, 2003. He won this event three times, from 2003-05.

118 On April 17, 2005, at Texas, Johnson finished third, collecting his 13th consecutive top-10 finish, the longest such streak of his career.

148 To start a dream season, Johnson won the Daytona 500 on Feb. 19, 2006. He would go on to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, the Brickyard 400 and his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship that season.

218 Johnson wins four consecutive races. His fourth straight came at Phoenix International Raceway, on Nov. 11, 2007. 

251 On Oct. 19, 2008, Johnson won at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and led 339 laps – the highest single-race laps led mark of his career.

296 Johnson won his 50th race, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on March 21, 2010, a milestone that further solidified his place among the all-time greats.