BRISTOL, Tenn. – Jimmie Johnson has big expectations for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Bristol Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet returns as the defending champion of last season’s spring race at the .553-mile oval. In that March 2010 event, he led 84 laps and beat Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch by a fraction of a second.
“I’m just excited to go back,” Johnson said. “I think we were in position in the fall race to fight for the win and race with Kyle (Busch, eventual race winner). I feel good, and I’m looking forward to going back. We’re sitting decent in the points, but a good run at Bristol would move us in the right direction.”
Along with his March 2010 victory, his first at the Tennessee short track, Johnson has earned four top-five finishes and nine top-10s during his last 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol. Johnson enters Sunday’s race ranked 12th in the driver standings, and he’s looking forward to the familiarity of Bristol. Despite all the updates recently made to tracks in the Cup circuit, Bristol has remained relatively unchanged – a quality Johnson finds beneficial when it comes to car development.
“Fortunately the short track stuff doesn’t change,” Johnson said. “Guys joke around that their Bristol setups that they’re running today is what they ran in the ‘90s with the old, old car. Some tracks, especially where downforce isn’t involved, there’s very little change over the years; there’s more change due to tires and the evolution of the tire than much of anything else.”
Johnson says his strategy is to just “run well” this weekend, something he and the No. 48 team have been focused on during the off week as they prepared Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-592. This is the same car that Johnson drove to a runner-up finish at Kansas Speedway in October 2010. The team’s concept of hard work falls in line with what Johnson considers his life philosophy:
“I guess my philosophy would be to always give 100 percent,” Johnson said. “That’s one thing I’ve had to do through my career before I had the success. I had to apply myself, it seemed like more than others, to get the results and I am glad that happened because I have a better work ethic today from it.”
Pre-race coverage of the Cup event begins Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX, and the race starts at 1 p.m.