Besides Daytona, the Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Concord, North Carolina, is possibly the most famous track in NASCAR. Majority of the teams are based in the area, hosts three Cup events each year and will be the site of the new NASCAR Hall of Fame.
However, there is a new name for this track, at least in one driver's mind.
Since 2002, Jimmie Johnson has considered this track "his house." He made his debut at the Lowe's Motor Speedway the year prior, qualifying a surprising 15th.
One year later, Johnson began putting his stamp on the 1.5-mile quad-oval.
Between 2002 and 2006, Johnson qualified in the top ten for nine of the 10 races, including two poles. In that same span, Johnson finished no lower than seventh in each race.
The driver of the Lowe's Chevrolet also has completed a feat that no other driver has. Between 2003 and 2005, he became the only driver to win three consecutive Coca-Cola 600 races. At one point in the 2003 event, Johnson was so dominant, he lapped the entire field.
Currently he is tied with most wins at this track among active drivers with Jeff Gordon. The teammates each have five wins, with Gordon holding the most recent victory in 2007.
However, if there is anyone to beat at the Lowe's Motor Speedway, it is Johnson. It's almost as if when he comes to this track, he's expected to win. There is no other driver as tough to beat at this track than Johnson.
His average starting position is eighth, with an average finishing position of ninth. Five victories, eight top-five and 12 top-ten finishes gives him the right to call the track "His House."
The fans have even realized that when this track is coming up, his team is on it's game. I was at the track in 2006 and 2007 for the Coca-Cola 600, and Johnson came out to a roar of boos in driver introductions.
Maybe the people were getting tired of him winning at this track, but both years he did not win the race, but was up front when it mattered the most near the end.
No matter whether the race is 500 miles or 600 miles, whether it's for points or just for money, or if it is during the regular season or the Chase, Johnson is the man to beat at this track.
Lowe's has already announced that they will not be sponsoring the track next season. Most likely, it will be called the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2010, as it was prior to the sponsorship.
That is unlikely to change the domination that Johnson has when they visit Concord, NC. Saturday night, in the NASCAR Banking 500, the No. 48 car will undoubtedly have a bulls eye square on it.
This is Jimmie Johnson's yard, and it looks like he's not giving it up anytime soon.
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