Skip to content

Can Jimmie Johnson become fifth different winner of 2014?

Mar 21, 2014, 2:44 PM EST

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. Sebastien Loeb will make rally return this January in Monte Carlo

    Nov 24, 2014, 2:33 PM EST

    AUTO-WTCC-MOROCCO Getty Images

    The nine-time World Rally Champion is now a full-time touring car racer, but will help kick off the 2015 WRC campaign for Citroen.

  2. RHR Borg-Warner set for December 3 unveil

    Nov 24, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Photo courtesy Steve Shunck Photo courtesy Steve Shunck

    Hunter-Reay’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy set for December 3 reveal.

  3. #ThingsOdellCouldCatch: Sebastien Bourdais’ 2013 IndyCar trophy at Toronto (PHOTO/VIDEO)

    Nov 24, 2014, 1:15 PM EST

    IndyCar Toronto Auto Racing AP

    IndyCar gets in on the Odell Beckham Jr. meme game, and it’s a good one.

  4. Two racing tie-ins occurred at last night’s AMAs

    Nov 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    Sage500 Getty Images

    Patrick Dempsey presenting and Brantley Gilbert winning makes for two racing tie-ins in a music show.

  5. Weekend wrap: Lewis Hamilton back on top of the F1 mountain

    Nov 24, 2014, 12:15 PM EST

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    Hammer Time in Abu Dhabi; Bird was the word for Formula E in Malaysia; a look at the NASCAR beat…

  6. Abu Dhabi test lineups set for Tuesday, Wednesday

    Nov 24, 2014, 11:45 AM EST

    ADtestlineup AP

    Lineups set for this week’s Abu Dhabi test.

  7. NASCAR: Amy, Brian France help support various charitable causes

    Nov 24, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    bzf-459427566-2

    Frances busy with charitable efforts during and after the NASCAR season.

  8. Danica Patrick confirmed for another GoDaddy Super Bowl ad, which should feature a surprise guest

    Nov 24, 2014, 10:30 AM EST

    Danica Patrick AP

    Danica Patrick will be in another GoDaddy ad, with an intriguing guest star.

  9. F1′s fears are allayed as double points has no say in title fight

    Nov 24, 2014, 10:00 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez the only drivers to benefit from double points in Abu Dhabi.

  10. Caterham’s return in Abu Dhabi fails to produce a big result

    Nov 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Qualifying Getty Images

    However, simply getting to the race must go down as an achievement for the backmarkers.

  11. Maurizio Arrivabene replaces Marco Mattiacci as Ferrari team principal

    Nov 24, 2014, 8:13 AM EST

    Arrivabene AP

    Mattiacci out, Arrivabene in as Ferrari team principal.

  12. Marussia remains ninth in constructors as Sauber fails to score in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ABU-DHABI-PRACTICE Getty Images

    Gutierrez finishes as the lead Sauber in a lowly 15th place on Sunday.

  13. (Updated) Remembering iconic motorsports PR great Denny Darnell

    Nov 23, 2014, 6:10 PM EST

    Denny Darnell (far left), with wife Jean, and Cyndee and Jerry Bonkowski. Denny Darnell (far left), with wife Jean, and Cyndee and Jerry Bonkowski.

    The world of motorsports — particularly NASCAR and NHRA — is mourning arguably the best public relations person it has ever seen, Denny Darnell, who passed away Saturday.

  14. Post-race fights in NASCAR Chase joked about during Eagles-Titans skirmish

    Nov 23, 2014, 6:00 PM EST

    Brad Keselowsk AP

    The Charlotte and Texas brawls from this year’s Chase are still resonating weeks after they occurred.

  15. Marcos Ambrose wasting no time gearing up for V8 Supercars return in Australia

    Nov 23, 2014, 5:17 PM EST

    Marcos Ambrose is back home in Australia and already back in a V8 Supercar, preparing for his first race in two weeks. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Marcos Ambrose is wasting little time in his return to racing V8 Supercars in his native Australia.

  16. Virtual insanity: Meet the Chevy Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo

    Nov 23, 2014, 4:30 PM EST

    Los Angeles Hosts Annual Auto Show Getty Images

    A wild concept collaboration for Gran Turismo 6 between the Bowtie and famous race car builder Chaparral.

  17. Petty’s 1988 Daytona wreck sold as prelude to upcoming auction of NASCAR Hall of Famer Cotton Owens estate

    Nov 23, 2014, 3:53 PM EST

    (Photo courtesy Greenville News) (Photo courtesy Greenville News)

    The remains of Richard Petty’s crashed 1988 Pontiac Grand Prix from the 1988 Daytona 500 sold Saturday, a prelude of an even larger auction of late NASCAR Hall of Famer Cotton Owens’ estate on Dec. 6.

  18. After thrilling title finale, NASCAR withdrawal now setting in

    Nov 23, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Ford EcoBoost 400 Getty Images

    This weekend is the first without a NASCAR race since mid-July.

  19. Abu Dhabi GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

    Nov 23, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    For the last time in 2014, we round up all of the action in the paddock as Lewis Hamilton became Formula 1 world champion for the second time.

Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1835)
  2. K. Kahne (1807)
  3. J. Johnson (1726)
  4. T. Stewart (1632)
  5. J. Logano (1624)