Rock solid

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I'm really looking forward to returning to Rockingham this weekend. We are riding a four-race top-five streak, this team's longest top-five streak in our young history together, and we are in the middle of a tight battle for second-place in the points. This time of year is really when a team can prove its mettle. While some folks use these last few events to get an early start on next season's preparations, we have to remain focused and continue our strong push.

Jimmie Johnson loves racing at Rockingham and it fits his driving style really well. "The Rock" is just a little over a mile long and the banking in the corners is between 22 and 25 degrees with the frontstretch banked at eight degrees. Do you know what track is very similar in length and banking? That's right -- Dover, a place where we won twice last season. These two tracks are not identical, especially since Dover is concrete and Rockingham is asphalt, but the tracks do require the driver to get up on the wheel and drive.

One of the key factors to consider when looking at Rockingham is the fact that it is one of the hardest tracks on tires. The sand that they used to create the asphalt there has a lot of seashells in it, so as I mentioned last season, this is a place that you would carry your tires around if you could because just rolling them around starts to wear them down.

And what a way to enter Rockingham following a second-place finish at Phoenix last weekend. I thought for a while that we were going to pull one out and bring home another trophy, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 team proved to be too much for us in the end. We have really come into our own on this style of track, so we knew were going to be a team to contend with if we got the Lowe's Chevy dialed in. Jimmie drove the wheels of the thing all afternoon, never falling out of the top-10. Unfortunately, we just didn't get the breaks that we needed in the end to pull out the victory.

I felt all weekend long that the guys did a great job preparing the Lowe's Chevy for Phoenix. We only had one race under our belts there going into last week, but thanks to the information the No. 24 and 5 teams shared from their recent practice sessions, it was like we had raced there for years. Jimmie was fantastic all afternoon, as usual, and the guys executed our pit stops flawlessly. With the battle for second place in the point standings heating up, it's important that this team hit on all cylinders coming down the stretch. We've done well up to this point, but as they say, there's still a little meat left on this bone.