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Jimmie Johnson enters the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth as the defending winner – from the pole position – on the heels of last weekend’s race win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway – also from the pole position. Johnson is first in the driver standings, six points ahead of second-place Brad Keselowski.
Another first from first this weekend would certainly add to a season that has already produced the latest handful of career highlights for Johnson, who started the year with his second victory in the Daytona 500, the sport’s biggest race. And after Sunday’s win at Martinsville, he may need to take out a deed on the track as he now owns the record for most wins among active drivers at the .526- mile oval.
Texas has been good to the five-time Sprint Cup champion. He owns the sport’s second-best driver rating at the 1.5-mile oval (103.5 average of a possible 150 points) and has two wins (November 2012 and 2007). However, the track has certainly produced its share of drama for Johnson and Team Lowe’s Racing. A lap-three accident in 2009 nearly took him out of the running for the championship but was averted thanks to an incredible repair job by the No. 48 crew to get him back on track and on his way to the title. Last year’s dramatic battle to the finish with Keselowski provided a thrilling end to Johnson’s race win, but Keselowski eventually won the championship trophy two weeks later.
There’s sure to be more drama in this weekend’s 334-lap event as everything is big in Texas, as the saying goes. Johnson and his team just hope the drama is another first from first that leaves him in first place in the standings. Here's what he had to say heading into Texas:
Do you feel good about where you are going into Texas?
“Yeah, I feel good about it. We ran really well at Vegas, and California didn’t go as well as we wanted, but it’s a much different racetrack than what we have at Texas. I would say that Texas and Vegas are closer together than Texas and California. We’ll go there and see. We’re still learning this car on the big tracks. At Fontana, we were certainly trying some things, and are smarter leaving there, and I know that these guys will work hard and give me a great car this coming race.”
How does Texas rank for you compared to the other 1.5-mile tracks?
“Well, the surface is a little bit older than places like Charlotte, Michigan and Kansas. I think you will see a lot of four-tire calls and that could make a difference in the race. It’s a fast track and it’s going to be challenging to keep the car underneath you and not get yourself in trouble. I really like the track. I think it’s really going to be another great race.”