Time Is Running Out For Jimmie Johnson’s Title Hopes

Time Is Running Out For Jimmie Johnson’s Title Hopes

by October 9, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas

CONCORD, N.C. – Jimmie Johnson has yet to lead a lap in this year’s edition of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion currently sits 12th in the standings, 27 points back from Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon who holds the ever so important eighth position that’ll transfer to the Eliminator Round of the Chase. Johnson got mired back into the standings after last weekend’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway when Greg Biffle clipped him coming out of turn two, bringing out the caution on lap 86. Johnson received damage after getting into Justin Allgaier and then slamming hard into the inside wall on the backstretch. Johnson went on to finish 40th. However, Johnson and the No.48 Lowe’s team is looking to make a comeback this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he has captured three wins in the Bank of America 500.

“We are ready to go racing,” Johnson said. “I love competing at this race track. I look forward to a great race Saturday night. The mindset is really to come in and try to take a trophy out of here. That really solves our problem in the points that we have right now. If we can’t, we still need to focus on finishing as high as we can. And, the reason that leaves a little bit of hope is that if you miss the big ones in Talladega, you could assume that some of the Chasers will be involved in one or two of those, and you might have another chance. It is a fading chance, in the position I’m in I believe, but it is still an opportunity and it is something for us to consider. We’re here to try and win the race, but if we can’t, we still need to finish well, and hope we have some luck down in Talladega.”

Johnson may be outside of the top-eight, but there’s no need to panic just yet. The team has had much success at Charlotte Motor Speedway over the years, but if they could come out of Charlotte with a win, then that’d make the trip to Talladega Superspeedway a lot less stressful to say the least. Obviously everyone who has made it to the Contender Round of the Chase is notable; however, Johnson has some heavy competition just ahead of him. His other Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 11th in the standings and possibly the championship favorite, Brad Keselowski is 10th. Heading into the Contender Round, the three drivers seemed to be predicted as the top-three, certainly not the bottom three, and with Geico 500 coming up at Talladega Superspeedway next weekend, absolutely anything is possible.

“You just can’t predict what’s going to happen,” Johnson said. “That’s the wild thing about Talladega. You don’t mind crashing if there’s five to go; you do if you’re trying to get into the championship, but it’s just such a risk versus reward management exercise because if you don’t have much to lose, you can try to race all day long and try to stay at the head of the pack and out of trouble. But you cycle to the middle of the field at some point; that’s inevitable. And if you cycle into the middle of the field at the wrong time and you’re in the big one, then you’re kicking yourself for racing. So, it’s a tough race to figure out what to do. There is no easy route except for Joey Logano right now. And then whoever wins this weekend, will have an option to go to Talladega with.”

This year’s Chase has challenged the drivers and crews to not just be competitive and race for points but to be perfect and make no mistakes, either in the shop, on the track or on pit road. With that being said, car setups that were successful in years past may not cut it for the races in the Chase, because teams are having to push the cars to the limit in order to stay ahead of the competition.

“We feel like if we came back with the May setup in the car, we’d probably be two or three more tenths off. It seems that we are taking track records down by a couple of tenths, even from a spring race to a fall race. I would imagine that would like of show true again here today. You don’t have a chance to sit still in this sport. You have to keep moving and progressing your race cars.”

Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 I shaping up to possibly be a championship moment for the drivers mired back in the points, and all it takes is just the smallest of mistakes to turn a night underneath the Carolina moon, a season ending nightmare. The race will be live on ABC and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday night.

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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