Volume I, Issue 2, Page 70

The team, owned by Rick Hendrick and fellow Chevy driver and NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon, is headed up by the strong combination of crew chief Chad Knaus and driver Jimmie Johnson. And Jimmie knows points, "Every point counts,” says Johnson.  “I lost the championship by eight points the first year of the Chase. So I know good and well going in that it could be the difference of winning the championship or not. So it is very important.  You just get in there and get to work and see what happens.”

The Lowes team started their run on this year’s Chase with their win at the Daytona 500. The team that bags the big one has a distinct psychological advantage over the rest of the garage. They backed that win up with a second place a week later in California, then won the next race at Las Vegas. Three races, two wins and a second equals the points lead and the unspoken feeling from the garage is that these Lowes guys, usually known as a late season team, have figured out how to get their business done in the early season.

The premise behind the NASCAR points system is to reward consistency. That was the idea when the late Bob Latford first scribbled the system on a cocktail napkin more than 35 years ago. With today’s “Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup,” that system becomes more intense for the last 10 races of the year. But even within the Chase, it’s still all about the points.

This year, one team has shown a mastery of the points system -- the #48 Lowes Home Improvement Chevy Monte Carlo SS of Hendrick Motorsports. Actually, it’s more like they own the points system. And this isn’t anything new for the #48 team. For the past four years, the team has finished in the top five in the Chase. Last year’s finish also marked the second time in as many years the Lowe’s team was in contention to win the championship going into the final race. So you might think they have this points thing figured out.