Three Questions with Jimmie Johnson

Jerry Bonkowski

Jimmie Johnson doesn't just have good luck at Martinsville Speedway – he dominates the place.

In 13 career starts there, Johnson has finished in the top-10 all but one time, including recording four wins, five other top-fives and three other top-10s.

And given that he typically has some of his best performances there at this time of the year – during the Chase for the Cup championship battle, it's not surprising to see Johnson back to his old tricks once again.

Not only has Johnson won the last two Cup titles, he comes into Sunday's Tums QuikPak 500 with wins in three of the last four events at NASCAR's shortest track (.526 mile) on the Cup circuit (he finished fourth there this spring).

And with a 69-point lead over Jeff Burton in the championship battle with five races remaining, you can expect nothing else from Johnson this Sunday but one thing: his very best.

Johnson talked about how the Chase is going for him after this past Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway:

Q. Since Jeff Burton has moved into second in the standings, are you surprised? And is he a real threat?

A. "Jeff has always been on my radar screen. I think in '06 he led most of the Chase. He's been doing this a long time. He knows the tracks. He's revitalized (Richard Childress Racing) over the years. I think we can all give him a lot of credit for the turnaround RCR has had. On track, he's smart (and) knows how to race hard. He's been out there a long time. He knows how to race and get points. He's always been on my radar."

Q. How confident are you going into Martinsville?

A. "I feel good about Martinsville. I think we'll be real good over there. It's been a great track to us. I'm excited to go there. Hopefully, we can take advantage of going to a good track."

Q. Carl Edwards has been one of your closest pursuers, but after finishing 33rd at Charlotte, he's fallen back to fourth place, 168 points behind you. With five races left, is he out of it, and have you pretty much narrowed the battle for the Chase the rest of the way to yourself, Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle?

A. "In some ways I do, but it's such a relative situation. If us top three guys have problems, those other guys are right back in it. As we get down to fewer races on the schedule left, I think that margin becomes more comfortable. Heck, we're only halfway through (the 10-race Chase). I was more than that down after Talladega (two years ago, Johnson rallied from a 158-point deficit after four races to win his first championship). But it took other guys having problems to let me into it. So if we go clean, that's going to be really tough for (Edwards) to overcome. But if we all have trouble, then he's right back in it."

Jerry Bonkowski is National NASCAR Columnist for Yahoo! Sports, an on-air personality on Sirius NASCAR Radio and a featured contributor to Gatehouse News Service. He can be reached