Chase Seed No. 3: Jimmie Johnson
September 11, 2008 | 9:18 A.M. EST
Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team.
The two-time champion has put together one of his trademark late regular-season runs to come into the Chase with a great deal of momentum and is squarely in the title picture again this year.
"Momentum is certainly something we are looking at and trying to carry, but more than anything, I think we are just confident in our stops and what I'm doing on the track and the way we can adjust on the car," Johnson said after his fourth regular season win of the year last weekend in Richmond.
Confidence along with that momentum is something Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus are not lacking as they get ready to start what they hope will be the third straight Chase to end in a title.
"I'm trying to show up at [Loudon] scared, worried about 11 other guys and worried about doing my part," Johnson said. "I have confidence in what my abilities are and what my team is capable of and the packages we have put together in the last five or six months, short track, big track, all of it."
He starts the playoff race 40 points behind leader Kyle Busch and trailing second seed Carl Edwards by only ten. But Johnson feels this will be more than a three driver race to the title.
"With the way the pack is running, especially the 99 [Edwards] and the 18 [Busch], you can't show up and run at 80 percent and just hope at top-10 is going to get the job done," he said. "You have to show up and bring your A game each week. I feel confident that we are there now and that we can run with these guys."
There is no denying that with the experience of winning the title two years straight under the Chase format, Johnson and company are poised to help him become the first driver to win three consecutive championships since Cale Yarborough in 1976-1978.
We're doing all the things right," Johnson said. "That doesn't guarantee us anything going into the Chase. We've got to show up and put in ten good ones.
"They're all looking pretty good right now. We won on a big track last week. We won this week.
"These guys on this Lowe's Impala have been working their butts off and I can't thank them enough."