Jimmie Johnson: Four-for-Four at the Desert Mile?

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IApril 15, 2009

PHOENIX - APRIL 22:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet car, has his car worked on in the pit by his crew during the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series SUBWAY Fresh 500 on April 22, 2006 at the Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sure, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team are looking for their fourth-consecutive title in 2009, but the Lowe's Chevy also looks to make race history this weekend by winning four consecutive races at Phoenix International Raceway.

In case you didn't know, Johnson has won the past three races (which also made track history), and looks to extend that streak to four in Saturday night's SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500.

"There's not really anything I can put my finger on," the three-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion said. "I know that's a popular question, wanting to know why a driver does well at a certain track. I think something just clicks with certain drivers at certain places."

There aren't many tracks that Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus haven't "clicked," but PIR has definitely been one of the team's best tracks—gee, isn't every track?

"We've just been able to get the car comfortable for me and I've just been able to get around the track," said Johnson. "During a race, there's a lot that can go on at a short track like Phoenix, and having a good pit stall and good pit stops is important to me."

In 11 career starts at the Desert Mile, Johnson has three wins, six top-fives, nine top-10 finishes, and one pole.

He also leads five pre-race NASCAR Loop Data categories at PIR, including: Driver Rating (122.0), Average Running Position (4.992), Fastest Laps Run (266), Average Green Flag Speed (123.719 MPH), and Laps in the Top 15 (2,383 or 95.4 percent).

His average finish? An impressive 5.5.

Winning four in a row isn't something that would be new for the No. 48 Chevy. In fact, the last driver to do so was Johnson when he won four consecutive races at Lowe's Motor Speedway from 2004-05.

Johnson will look for a solid run this weekend at PIR, hoping to close the gap on Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, who currently leads the series standings.

The gap from first to second currently sits at 162 points.

Gordon, however, has been on fire this season, and visited Victory Lane the last time the cars were on the track two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway.

The win ended a 47-race skid by Gordon and the No. 24 team, as well as a 17-race streak of not winning at TMS.

Johnson finished second at TMS, and looks forward to chasing his teammate.

"I don't really go into a race thinking about stats," Johnson said.

"It is pretty cool that we've had some good runs lately at Phoenix. The last win gave us some good momentum going into (the 2008 season finale) at Homestead. Don't get me wrong, a win is always a big deal and never easy and winning four in a row somewhere like Phoenix would certainly be special, but it's not something that I'm really thinking about a lot."


Next Race: SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500

The Date: Saturday, April 18

The Track: Phoenix International Raceway; One-mile oval

The Time: 8:30 PM ET

The Distance: 500 kilometers/312 laps/312 miles


Radio: MRN (local, KGME-AM 910) and Sirius Satellite

2008 Polesitter: Ryan Newman

2008 Winner: Jimmie Johnson

Schedule: Friday—Practice, 10:10 AM-12 PM; Final Practice, 12:30-2 PM; Qualifying, 4:10 PM