If you’ve watched any NASCAR races over the last decade or so then you’ve probably seen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson laying the wood to his competitors on a regular basis. The driver now has the well-deserved nick-name of “six-time” because of his winning of the Cup Championship six times! That domination seems to be in question during the 2014 chase.
I'm not sure why his abilities are in question. Johnson has three wins on the season, made the Championship Chase, and is currently poised to survive the first round and move on.
Over the years Johnson has used a combination of consistency and domination during single races as a game plan for getting in the championship mix. This season the No. 48 Lowe's team has not had the numbers that it’s used to when compared to previous seasons. Should Johnson fans be concerned? Not really, unless you listen to Jimmie Johnson! He knows that fans, and the media, are wondering why he's still one of the best drivers in NASCAR but not the most "dominant" one this year.
The driver made several fun comments about the media's reported state of the No. 48 team during the first three races of the Championship Chase. Johnson fielded the questions that seem to pop up every year when he does not win a string of races. His comments centered on how headlines change from him doing bad to his team being the one to beat.
"Last year we had a really poor summer and got off to a great start in the Chase and heated up and went from headlines saying, 'What's wrong with the No. 48?' to 'Here we go again; I knew it,'" Johnson stated. "I wish I could explain why teams are good and bad and why it's so hard to be consistent all year long. But last year, even though we had a tough end of the regular season, we were in position to win a lot of races. And we did win a bunch during the course of the year.”
A Good Car
The amazing thing about the Johnson story for the 2014 season is that Johnson has battled the speed demon a few times. Because of his skill level he’s managed to bring cars home to respectable finishes when he should have fallen back in the pack. Over the course of the season he racked up three checkered flag heading into the Dover race weekend.
In 2013 he had six victories and ten in 2007. During 2014 the Johnson camp has squeezed as much power out of their cars that the can but Johnson says that they need to do more.
“Believe me,” Johnson said. “We're working our guts out to find the speed and to be that dominant car. But truthfully, we're not the dominant car right now. We're a good car.”
After the race in Dover this weekend the Chase field will narrow as the four lowest drivers in Championship contention are eliminated. Even though Johnson is below the twelve driver cut-off at the time any mistake at Dover could be fatal to Championship dreams.
The window of margin between the last place chase drivers to the twelfth cut off position is only ten points. Currently Johnson is the fourth spot according to the official NASCAR standings and is well away from the cutoff line. Despite that he still says that every race still counts.
"We are usually strong closers, so every week counts from here on out."