Johnson Wants Road Course Win
August 10, 2008 | 10:58 A.M. EST
Johnson has prepared and tested for Sunday's second road race of the season and is hoping it pays off with a trip to victory lane at the historic, 2.45-mile course.
"I really hope so," he said. "We’ve made a lot of testing and put a lot of work toward it to come out here and compete and try to run the Nationwide race. We qualified well at Sonoma, but didn’t race (well); we led at the beginning, but just didn’t race in traffic like we wanted to."
Johnson also realizes that with five races to go until the start of this year's Chase, every week is important.
"I feel like what we’ve been learning on the ovals is going to help us with the Chase," Johnson said. "This race here is very important for the points, but it’s more of a personal challenge for me and Chad (Knaus) than it is a race that we’re looking at to help us down the road."
"The points are very important. We want to get out of here with a good finish, but when I wake up in the morning in the bus and look in the mirror, this is my challenge. I want to win on a road course. And this is the last chance I have this year to do it. So that’s really what it boils down to.”
Winning on a road course in one of NASCAR's top divisions has been a goal of Johnson's for some time and he hopes it comes on Sunday.
“It’s going to mean a lot to me," he said. "Through life, you set out challenges that you want to conquer and beat and I’ve been very fortunate to achieve a lot in this sport and win the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard twice now. Other tracks have been difficult on me, like Richmond. I never thought I would win at Richmond but I finally conquered that track. It would be extremely satisfying. It’s something that I want to do."
Johnson has been in several other road racing machines in various circuits and series to not only learn about the process for his Cup racing but because it's something he truly enjoys.
"I really enjoy road course racing," he said. "I love racing in the Grand Am Series. I can see, way out in the future some day if I’m not racing Cup full time that I would love to run in the Grand Am Series on in some type of road course racing series. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is another big goal that I have for myself. So being a good road course racer is important to me."
"The crazy thing is I do a better job in these other vehicles than I do in a Cup car. I just have to figure out how to adapt my skills to this Cup car and do a better job at it.”
One of Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Jeff Gordon, is a four-time Watkins Glen winner and a resource.
"Jeff has been a lot of help," Johnson said. "We don’t test up here, so it’s tough, or at Sonoma anymore, so it’s tough to really look at data. But as much as we can really talk about what our cars are doing and what we’re looking for in the set-ups, we do all we can there."