Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Everybody Knows Who's the Favorite; Target Is on Johnson, Who Goes for His Sixth Title at Lowe's Today

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Everybody Knows Who's the Favorite; Target Is on Johnson, Who Goes for His Sixth Title at Lowe's Today

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM VAN BRIMMER

CONCORD, N.C. - The Indianapolis 500 is known as "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

The NASCAR race run Sunday, the Coca-Cola 600, could claim its own moniker.

The Jimmie Johnson Invitational.

The Nextel Cup points leader goes for his fourth consecutive victory in the longest race of the season at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. His Memorial Day domination has competitors conspiring against him.

"We just have to do all the right things and be there at the end of the race, whereas Jimmie has great cars and he knows this track as good as anybody," fellow driver Kasey Kahne said. "He's there at the end of the race and he's winning these races. He just gets it done every time he comes here."

Drivers refuse to reveal their "beat JJ" strategies. Jeff Gordon, Johnson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports and the owner of Johnson's No. 48 car, said too much focus on beating Johnson is dangerous considering the other 41 teams in the field.

That said, Gordon will stalk Johnson on Sunday.

"From a competitor's standpoint, all you want to do is break that string." Gordon said.

The field's best hope of beating Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 would be to file for a change of venue. Johnson has won five of the last six points races - three 600s and the last two fall races, the UAW-GM Quality 500 - at the track that bears his sponsor's name.

He has also won two of the last four Nextel All-Star Challenges, also held at the 1.5-mile track.

"The Lowe's car should win here at Lowe's Motor Speedway," said Kyle Busch, who has won two Craftsman Truck Series races and a Busch Series race at the track the last two seasons. "They put a lot of emphasis on this racetrack to do well. It's not that it's any different than anywhere else you want to win at, but they strive to win at this place."

Speedway management has done its part to sabotage Johnson's streak. They have altered the track surface in each of the last three years. …

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