Skip to content

Can Jimmie Johnson become fifth different winner of 2014?

Mar 21, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

Food City 500 - Practice Getty Images

With five previous victories at Auto Club Speedway, a lot of eyes are on defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson this weekend as the series returns to the two-mile oval in Southern California.

Johnson has yet to win so far in this young Sprint Cup season, but last weekend at Bristol (where he finished 19th after an early tire failure), he said he felt no pressure whatsoever to effectively lock himself into the Chase for the Sprint Cup with a win.

Today before practice began for Sunday’s Auto Club 400, Johnson reiterated those beliefs when asked if he was getting antsy about the matter.

“It’s not even close to time yet,” he said. “When you look at the stats, 16 different winners in a year is a rare occurrence. I still think that points are every bit as important as they’ve been until you get to Homestead.

“Even when you get into the Chase itself, the top guy in points will advance in every scenario – even the final one for the race at Homestead. Points are still the focus and we’ve been able to win multiple races a year with a certain mindset. I’m not going to chase home runs.”

Only twice in NASCAR history have there been more than 15 winners in a season’s first 26 races. And that particular feat has never occurred during the Chase era, which started in 2004.

So while Johnson’s mindset may run counter to the “win and your in” mentality that’s being emphasized more this season, he can be easily forgiven for having it.

It may all be a moot point anyway if Johnson can continue his mastery at Fontana, a place that has become one of NASCAR’s top tracks in regard to on-track action.

Johnson’s won eight times at both Dover and Martinsville, but Fontana is next up in terms of success for the six-time Cup champ. In addition to five wins, he’s earned 12 Top-5s and 14 Top-10s in SoCal over the course of his career.

The track has become a tricky one over time, but in Johnson’s mind, he believes that’s been a good thing for him and his team.

“I think our team has done well on low-grip level race tracks and this track’s in that category,” he said. “…The character in the track continues to change and the bumps, last year especially, are as big as I’ve ever seen them.

“The paving seams are very sensitive for running the right-side tires on – we’ve seen that in the NASCAR vehicles and also in IndyCar. So, I think those challenging elements are good for the 48.”

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 p.m. ET

    Jul 31, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

    140731-NASCAR-AMERICA

    Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA lineup…

  2. Formula E: Malaysia date moves from October to November

    Jul 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Previews Getty Images

    Malaysian FIA Formula E round moves from October to November to accommodate prime minister’s wishes.

  3. IndyCar: A crucial weekend to commence at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 At Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud look to make headway on Team Penske teammates, while Chip Ganassi Racing seeks a six-pack of Mid-Ohio wins this weekend.

  4. Hysterical video: How the British envision NASCAR

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    nascar brits

    Anthony Richardson bills himself as the Bad British Commentator, and it definitely shows through here with his malapropisms and complete lack of understanding of the sport and world of NASCAR.

  5. What might the 2015 Sprint Cup schedule look like?

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images Getty Images

    There may not be wholesale changes, based upon what NASCAR chairman Brian France said recently, but next year’s Sprint Cup schedule will look different. Based upon various sources and things we’ve heard and/or read, we’re going to chime in with our ideas and why we think that way.

  6. As many as 4 more drivers can clinch Chase spot at Pocono

    Jul 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Chase for the sprint cup logo

    With six qualifying races left, a total of 10 more spots remain to be clinched to fill out the expanded 16-driver playoff field for this year’s 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.

  7. Mark Martin returning to Roush Fenway Racing in unique role

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT

    (Photo: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Legendary NASCAR driver Mark Martin is returning to Roush Fenway Racing. But don’t expect Martin, 55, to get back behind the wheel any time soon.

  8. Police seek large stolen Earnhardt memorabilia collection

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT

    (Illustration: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images) Getty Images

    If you collect NASCAR memorabilia and someone approaches you in the coming days with a deal that seems too good to be true – especially if it involves merchandise related to either Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Dale Earnhardt Jr. – it probably is.

  9. Report: Ferrari’s Engine and Electrics boss Luca Marmorini leaves team

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Ferrari’s head of Engine and Electrics, Luca Marmorini, has left the team ahead of the second half of the season.

  10. Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio highlights extensive motorsports coverage this weekend on NBCSN, NBC

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT

    NBCSN

    NBCSN will present live coverage of the IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, highlighting more than 30 hours of motorsports coverage across NBC and NBCSN this weekend.

  11. Report: Toyota closing in on new 2015 Camry for Sprint Cup

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT

    (AP Photo/Tom Strattman) AP

    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the case for the new design of the Toyota Camry for the 2015 Sprint Cup season.

  12. IndyCar: Carpenter hopeful for second car in 2015

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT

    Ed Carpenter AP

    Ed Carpenter says he’d like to expand to two cars, but it remains to be seen if this can actually come to fruition.

  13. Roush Fenway shores up sponsorship for Stenhouse as Zest returns to No. 17

    Jul 30, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

    Pocono 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Personal care brand will serve as primary backer for Stenhouse in multiple 2015 races plus work in a season-long associate role.

  14. NASCAR AMERICA: Wednesday Round-Up Includes Denny Hamlin Interview (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

    DHIMSPenalty AP

    NASCAR AMERICA on Wednesday includes a Denny Hamlin interview, a recap of the Hamlin penalties and Dale Earnhardt Jr. new crew chief news.

  15. Red Bull GRC: Nelson Piquet Jr. goes wakeboarding (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    PiquetWakeboard

    Nelson Piquet Jr. shows Kristen Kenney how to wakeboard, on the day after Piquet bagged a podium finish in Red Bull Global Rallycross at Charlotte.

  16. WATCH LIVE: Denny Hamlin reacts to Indy penalties on NASCAR AMERICA

    Jul 30, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    NASCAR America

    Coming up today: Full coverage of Brickyard penalties against Joe Gibbs Racing, including reaction from driver Denny Hamlin; interview with Eldora Truck Series winner Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.

  17. How will Greg Ives handle the spotlight as Dale Jr.’s crew chief?

    Jul 30, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    History 300 - Practice Getty Images

    Next year, Ives will have deal with an amount of fan and media attention that dwarfs anything he’s ever encountered in the sport.

  18. IndyCar: Mid-Ohio Livery Notes

    Jul 30, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT

    JPMHawk Getty Images

    The livery notes going into this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Toronto.

  19. Greg Ives to become crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season

    Jul 30, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT

    GregIvesCrop Getty Images

    Ives currently serves as crew chief for Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott and also worked as a race engineer for Jimmie Johnson during his run of five Sprint Cup titles from 2006-2010.

  20. Gordon’s crew chief: 24 team more confident after Brickyard win

    Jul 30, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT

    Sprint All-Star Race - Practice Getty Images

    In addition to talking about the meaning of Sunday’s win at Indy, Alan Gustafson touches on the penalties against fellow crew chief Darian Grubb and Joe Gibbs Racing.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

Ives, Earnhardt Jr. a good combo?

Featured video

Inside the Hungarian GP
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. D. Hamlin (1124)
  2. J. McMurray (1044)
  3. A. Almirola (949)
  4. K. Busch (934)
  5. T. Bodine (838)