Johnson Shoots For Three Peat

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Jimmie Johnson's quest for a third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title officially begins Sunday in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Since hitting his stride in the mid-summer Stretch of the season, Johnson brings a full steam of momentum and confidence into his bid for another championship.

“I certainly feel good about things," said Johnson, who will start Sunday's race in the third position. "The last three or four months we’ve been making a lot of progress here the last two weeks. At Brickyard we were able to show that when we get it right, we can go out and race for these wins and in some cases, do it in a dominating fashion."

"So the million-dollar question is can we do it during this final 10 (races) and over a long enough period of time during this final 10 to be the champions. I feel good about where we’re at. I’m excited about what we’ve learned as a company and as the No. 48 car and the strength we have as the No. 48 team and the confidence we all have in one another."

Running without problems over the course of the ten race Chase stretch is important. But so is winning as the competition has increased and Johnson thinks it will take some time before the title picture really comes into focus.

“It could be, but I still feel we won’t know what is needed until the fifth, sixth, or seventh race in," he said. "You just don’t know. If you look at ’06, Talladega, we all thought I was out of it. We came back. Last year, we wouldn’t have had a chance with that. You needed a 4.8 or 4.9 average to win the deal. So it depends on the other 11 guys and the types of starts they get off to in the Chase and where that stuff all falls into place."

"We’re all preparing for the worst. I think we’re all talking about how you need to win races. Chances are, that’s going to be the case, especially with so many guys running well. But again, we just don’t know.”

One thing Johnson has in his favor over many of this year's title contenders is the experience of having chased - and won - a title in the current format.

“I feel that my experience does help me," he said. "I feel that it helps me focus on the right things since we have pulled off a championship. If I look at ’06 to ’07, I worried about a lot of things in ’06. In ’07, I had a better idea of the important things to worry about. I just focused on those and gave myself a break, mentally, through the Chase."

"Where in ’06, I was just freaking out about everything. And I hope that experience will carry into this season’s Chase and give me an advantage and mainly give me some relief from my own head and the things I worry about trying to do something special in our sport. Those guys have the pressure of winning their first. I hope there is something there. Only time will tell."

That time starts Sunday.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2008

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