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. Lotus rejects claim Grosjean brake-tested Verstappen

    May 28, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    Verstappen 245 Getty Images

    Alan Permane claims the data on Grosjean’s car shows he did not brake-test Verstappen and cause their crash in Monaco last Sunday.

  2. Todt: Impossible to ban alcohol sponsorship in F1

    May 28, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 23:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda drives during final practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 23, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) Getty Images

    FIA president responds to calls for a stricter policy on alcohol sponsorship in F1.

  3. Andreas Bakkerud to sub for Piquet Jr. with SH Rallycross at X Games

    May 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    Photo: SH Rallycross Photo: SH Rallycross

    Andreas Bakkerud will fill in for Piquet while he’s on Formula E duty in Russia.

  4. Wolff answers fans questions following Monaco pit error

    May 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12:  Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff speaks with members of the media next to St Kilda beach during previews to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix on March 12, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff took part in a Twitter Q&A earlier this week.

  5. Foust reflects on Red Bull GRC’s evolution, growth, what wins mean now

    May 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Photo: Tony DiZinno Photo: Tony DiZinno

    Two-time series champion looks ahead to a big year in Red Bull GRC with Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross.

  6. Gossage to Walker: “We need a more competitive race this year than last year”

    May 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    The Bombardier Learjet 500k Getty Images

    Gossage and Walker are in contact about how to best move forward with super speedway aero kits ahead of June 6 IndyCar race.

  7. Final tally of Pippa Mann’s 2015 #GetInvolved campaign revealed

    May 28, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    No. 63 driver tops $61,000 raised for Susan G. Komen this month.

  8. IndyCar drivers break down Belle Isle Park street course

    May 27, 2015, 4:57 PM EDT

    Chevrolet Indy Dual In Detroit - Dual II Getty Images

    The last seven races held in Detroit have been won by a different driver.

  9. INDYCAR announces post-Indy 500 penalties; Coyne, Herta pit penalties among them

    May 27, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Penalties doled out after the Indy 500, most notably to the No. 19 and 98 teams for pit incidents.

  10. Tristan Vautier, Rodolfo Gonzalez to race for Dale Coyne Racing in Detroit Duals

    May 27, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    Tristan Vautier Tristan Vautier

    Gonzalez returns to No. 18 car after running it in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

  11. Graham Rahal feels ‘really good’ about Detroit Dual

    May 27, 2015, 1:16 PM EDT

    Graham Rahal Graham Rahal

    After three straight top-five finishes, Graham Rahal returns to the site of his only 2014 podium.

  12. Volkswagen Andretti pair of Foust, Speed seek better fortunes, consistency

    May 27, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Photo: Red Bull Content Pool Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

    Ahead of the Red Bull GRC season, Tanner Foust and Scott Speed look for better luck in the pair of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetles.

  13. Charlie Kimball looks to capitalize on Indianapolis performance in Detroit Dual

    May 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EDT

    Charlie Kimball Charlie Kimball

    Charlie Kimball says his team has hit its stride after two straight top-five finishes.

  14. Wilson adds Andretti FE to his diverse racing portfolio, racing at Moscow

    May 27, 2015, 10:41 AM EDT

    Justin Wilson AP

    Wilson and Andretti continue relationship at FE race in Moscow.

  15. Racing for Cancer, DeBoer partner ahead of Le Mans Festival

    May 27, 2015, 9:23 AM EDT

    deboer_3D_rendering_lemans

    Racing for Cancer to make trip to this year’s Le Mans, with Derek DeBoer in an Aston Martin Vantage GT4.

  16. Red Bull GRC course layout for Ft. Lauderdale opener revealed

    May 27, 2015, 8:16 AM EDT

    FtLauderdaleMain Getty Images

    The Red Bull GRC season kicks off in Fort Lauderdale this weekend.

  17. Fast Facts: Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit

    May 27, 2015, 7:44 AM EDT

    IndyCar Detroit Auto Racing AP

    Fast facts heading into this weekend’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.

  18. Chaves wins Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors

    May 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Chaves best of two first-year drivers in 99th Indianapolis 500.

  19. Nelson Piquet, SH Rallycross look for big second year in Red Bull GRC

    May 26, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Photo: Red Bull Content Pool Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

    Look out for Nelson Piquet Jr. and SH Rallycross to have a big year in 2015.