Jimmie Johnson looking to defend Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 victory
A six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion knows a thing or two about winning races and the importance of early success in NASCAR's top division. It only took Jimmie Johnson two races to secure a berth in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup last season, but it didn't come easy.
After missing qualifying due to inspection snafus last season, the No. 48 team found themselves slotted near the back, in the 37th position, to start the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Winning would be a tall order for anyone, six-time Sprint Cup Series champion or not.
But Johnson leaned on his seasoned persistence and championship-caliber driving acumen to do the unlikely.
"Starting 37th, sure, it wasn't fun," Johnson said recently. "Sure, there were a lot of cars to pass, but with the long runs, and I took care of my equipment, and we had a good car, and I was able to work my way through there and get the track position we needed."
By lap 254 of 325, Johnson emerged from the field and into the lead, almost making it look easy. He led four times, including the final 21 laps to secure an impressive win.
With the victory, Johnson locked up an early berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and provided some relief in the often frenetic quest for a coveted spot in the 16-driver post season lineup.
"Initially, it was really nice to have the pressure off," said Johnson. "Winning early, it's nice to check that box and know that you're going to make it into the Chase."
He would go on to win four more races in 2015 but suffered an early exit from the Chase after the first round.
This year, Johnson hopes to do a lot of the same things with a deeper run in the post season.
"We're looking at this year, and (we're) hopeful to get off to a quick start," he said. "Check that box. Know that we're going to advance into the Chase. And then somehow figure out how to move the peak towards the end of the year and peak at the right time."
Johnson will look to defend his Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 title on Feb. 28, and fans of the six-time champion can take part in his pre-race activities by taking advantage of the popular Jimmie Johnson Q&A ticket package.
Included in the package is a special $48 Petty Grandstand ticket to the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 and access to an exclusive race-day Q&A session with Jimmie before the big race. Kids tickets are just $24 and include VIP front row Q&A access and a special race-day activity.
Jimmie Johnson Q&A ticket packages can be purchased online here or by calling the AMS ticket office at (770) 946-4211 or (877) 9-AMS-TIX.
NASCAR racing returns to AMS in less than three weeks with the Heads Up Georgia 250 XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series Georgia 200 doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 27 and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 28. For more information visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com today.