CONCORD, N.C. -- Jimmie Johnson is ready for a homecoming this weekend.
As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Auto Club Speedway, the El Cajon, California, native is looking forward to taking on a track at which the No. 48 team has seen its fair share of success.
In his career, Johnson has visited Victory Lane in Fontana, California, an all-time record six times, and his average finish of 7.2 at the track is his best at any venue.
“I think it’s a bit of luck in the sense that there are some tracks that just fit drivers and teams and crew chiefs, and that racetrack has been one for me," he said. "Thankfully, it is my home track and I have been able to enjoy the extreme highs that come with that."
Though the seven-time champion has plenty of experience at the track, this year brings new challenges. With the new rules package in effect, Johnson looked to take the insights from previous tracks as he created his approach to Fontana.
“My mind goes to Atlanta and how important handling was in Atlanta and that will be the case in Fontana,” he explained. “We do have more room to run around there, more lanes and options from that standpoint with really long straightaways, so it could be a pretty exciting race that involves a lot of drafting. I think the longer the straightaway, the better this package will show and the more competitive racing it will put on. California should be a really good test for it.”
Through four races this season, Johnson has earned two top-10 finishes. During the first two stops on the West Coast swing, however, he finished 24th at Atlanta and 19th at Las Vegas.
The driver and his team are looking to build on last weekend's eighth-place result heading into this weekend.
“We have not gotten off to the start that we expected to,” Johnson said. “Atlanta was pretty rough for us. Vegas we had a lot more speed in the car, but when I lost track position as the race wore on my car was pretty evil to drive. We are learning each and every step.”
Moving forward each week with new insights gained from racing the rules package at each track, Johnson's goal remains to return to Victory Lane. Sunday's race at his home track is the next opportunity to do just that.
“We are learning as we go," he said, "and we just have to do a better job and get better.”