FORT WORTH NASCAR Drivers were conducting their final tests of the season at Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday, but it wasn't exactly a secret.
'You feel so good when you're the only car that tests at a track, and you feel like you'll have a leg up on guys, but everyone racing for the championship is here,' said driver Jimmie Johnson as he gets ready for the AAA Texas 500 on November 3.
Johnson took over the points lead at Talladega last week, moving ahead of Matt Kenseth by four points. Because of his success as a five-time champion, Johnson is a man other drivers hate to see at the top again.
'I don't care if they want to see me there or not,' he said. 'Even the fans that are p---ed off, I don't care. I'm not here to make friends. I'm here to win races and win a championship.'
Kenseth had the points lead going into Talladega on Sunday, but a 20th-place finish dropped him out of the lead. Now he's got to catch Johnson.
'I realized when we started the chase, and I realized when we started the season, and I've realized it for years, that if you're going to have a shot at a championship, you've got to beat the 48,' Kenseth said.
'There is something about that 48 team and those guys that are able to turn it up really when they need to,' NASCAR driver Carl Edwards said. 'I feel a little like we're behind right now, and I don't know exactly what it is. Makes you just want to hate Jimmie and Chad [Knaus], but they're really nice guys and good competitors.'
Johnson won the November race in Texas last year. Combine that with Johnson's lead, and drivers are worried.
'Yes, yes,' NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon said. 'I mean, those guys are tough.'
Tough enough to have won five championships... and looking for number six.