The feeling after Jimmie Johnson's victory last week at the Auto Club Speedway was that some were too quick to give the championship title to the three-time defending champ. Sure, Mark Martin is only twelve points back and Juan Pablo Montoya is hot on their heels, but this weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway Johnson has done his best to prove it is once again his year.
Once the rain showers cleared Thursday evening and the track was dry, the No. 48 rocketed to the top of the speed charts in the opening practice session with a lap at the average speed of 192.486 mph. Clearly excited over the radio after the lap, Johnson backed up his performance later that night in Coors Light Qualifying. Setting a new record for the fastest qualifying lap ever laid down in the new car, Johnson and his No. 48 took earned the pole position.
Surely he couldn't keep up the pace on Friday could he? Well, of course he did.
In the day's first session, Johnson once again bettered his teammate Mark Martin to claim the top-spot. Think things would change in the hour-long final practice? Nope.
Running a total of 48 laps, Johnson took his familiar place atop the leaderboard. With a fast-lap of 185.478 mph, Johnson has made a clean sweep of the weekend's Sprint Cup Series events thus far. The only thing left is Saturday night's NASCAR Banking 500.
"We've got 500 miles to run," the five time Lowe's Motor Speedway winner explained after qualifying. "So I think if we can lead a lot of laps, win the race, and something along those lines will send a statement."
After Saturday's practice sessions I think it's time the competition started getting the message.