Winning a Sprint Cup race back to back is a difficult challenge, but Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson has a chance at a very rare feat Saturday night when the Lowe’s Chevy driver will be going for his fourth consecutive victory on the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval. Nine drivers have won four consecutive Cup races at a venue, but it’s only happened twice since the mid-’80s.
For his part, Johnson is more concerned about just maintaining his and the Hendrick team’s recent momentum.
“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 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."
Johnson isn’t aware of anything special about Phoenix that suits him. “It started off not so good for us and then we got a good baseline set up underneath me. I had to adjust my driving style to drive more like Jeff Gordon here. It’s something that took me a few years to understand. I learned how to adapt at Richmond and Martinsville here at Phoenix and it’s worked out well for me. It’s just a different style of driving the car.
“I’m typically much smoother with the gas and brake and overlap the two feet and spend a lot of time at part throttle. Jeff is typically more physical with the car, hard braking, pulls on the steering wheel real hard and through that requires a little bit more of a tighter set up than I do in most cases and my smoother style just doesn’t work on tracks like this. So I had to be aggressive with the inputs to the car and make the car turn and force it to start rotating through the center of the corner.”