Aug 15, 2014, 2:33 PM EST
This situation looks awfully familiar, doesn’t it?
Going into last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team were sputtering with results of 40th, 36th, 28th, and 40th in the final four regular season races.
Things worked out well enough for them. Now, going into this year’s Chase, they’re dealing with another rough patch: Three crashes in the last five races, with a top finish of 14th at the Brickyard 400 three weeks ago.
But Johnson is unperturbed. He’s gone into the post-season running strong and running poorly, but either way, he’s had to put what he did in the regular season out of mind and focus on the 10-race battle for the championship.
“In the past, you had a 10-race program to kind of look at, and now you almost have four categories to look at,” he said today at Michigan International Speedway before Sprint Cup practice. “So, the game has changed, for sure. But I think where I sit today and how I view the Chase and when it starts is the same even though the format has changed.
“Those ten tracks in the Chase are really probably nine or 10 of my best tracks on the circuit. And if we have a slow run entering, we’ll just deal with it and rely on the team that we’ve built and who we are as individuals in each position and step-up as need be.”
It’s been an interesting year for the reigning Sprint Cup champion. Johnson dealt with a lack of performance in the early stages of the season, but then rattled off three wins in a stretch of four races, including his first Cup win at Michigan back in June.
Now, he’s been repeatedly falling victim to rotten luck. Last week at Watkins Glen was a good example of that – Johnson was running in the Top 10 when he was spun out off of a restart with nine laps remaining. After collecting Regan Smith in the incident, Johnson had to settle for a 28th-place finish.
But with his place in the Chase already secured, Johnson’s hoping that he’s simply getting all the bad days out of the way now.
“It’s nice to have momentum entering the Chase. If it doesn’t happen, we’ve won championships that way, too,” he said. “So, we’re taking it as it comes, but it has been a very challenging year.
“We started off without the speed that we wanted. We got the speed back and then the luck left. So, we choose to look at it as we’re getting all this out of the way so we can have ten great races and hopefully it happens that way.”
Feb 27, 2015, 9:32 AM EST
American driver secures a seat in GP2 after a turbulent 2014 campaign.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:17 AM EST
FIA confirms that Manor Marussia does have a place on the grid in 2015, relying it complies with the new technical regulations.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EST
26 days after the rest of the F1 field, Force India gets its 2015 car out on track for the first time.
Feb 27, 2015, 7:41 AM EST
Spaniard posts a video on YouTube giving an update on his condition.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:00 PM EST
Brazilian driver still believes that Mercedes has the best car in F1 this year.
Feb 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
Briton still manages to finish third on Thursday, but is limited to just 48 laps following the power unit issue.
Feb 26, 2015, 1:45 PM EST
F1 rookie happy with the final raft of updates on the STR10 ahead of the first race of the year in Australia.
Feb 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
Spanish racer will get a chance to test the E23 Hybrid out on track at least once in 2015.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:00 AM EST
Ferrari reserve driver speaks after completing his first running in the new SF15-T at a filming day in Barcelona.
Feb 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EST
Ex-Red Bull driver believes that Vettel will be rejuvenated following his move to Ferrari for 2015.
Feb 26, 2015, 8:15 AM EST
The VJM08 will finally make its on-track debut with three days to go in winter testing.
Ron Dennis clears up Alonso crash rumors; confirms he was briefly knocked unconscious but was not concussed
Feb 26, 2015, 7:27 AM EST
McLaren CEO meets with the media to quash incorrect reports surrounding Alonso’s accident in testing.
Feb 25, 2015, 5:13 PM EST
Justin Wilson’s offseason plight isn’t only budget-related, but due to a reduced number of available opportunities in IndyCar.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:45 PM EST
Brad Hollinger’s investment in Williams’ ownership moves from 5 to 10 percent.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:21 PM EST
Lineups and running order ahead of this week’s Barcelona test.
Feb 25, 2015, 11:27 AM EST
What Force India couldn’t gain in car evaluation it could gain in 2015 tire and different driver evaluation last week in Barcelona.
Feb 25, 2015, 10:15 AM EST
The Melbourne season opener is a little more than two weeks away.
- Alexander Rossi confirms return to GP2 in 2015 with Racing Engineering 0
- FIA issues updated F1 entry list including “Manor Marussia” 0
- Fernando Alonso thanks fans for support following crash 0
- Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Thursday 0
- Massa fastest for Williams as final F1 pre-season test begins 5
- Ron Dennis clears up Alonso crash rumors; confirms he was briefly knocked unconscious but was not concussed 3
- McLaren confirms Alonso leaves hospital, and is out for final test 0