Aug 15, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT
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.”
Sep 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
“…We’re looking for just that little sliver of speed to get back to a dominant position.” – Johnson
Sep 19, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Finishing P1 not enough for the Briton following his Friday running in Singapore.
Sep 19, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
“I hope it’s before the end of this year, but if not, we won’t be too disappointed. We’ve been running well all season long.” – Larson
Sep 19, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
German driver rallies to finish in the top five in both sessions despite an engine failure.
Sep 19, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Already in the Contender Round for the Chase, Keselowski gets his weekend at New Hampshire off to a good start.
Sep 19, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
German driver feeling comfortable ahead of qualifying in Singapore tomorrow.
Sep 19, 2014, 12:43 PM EDT
IndyCars get their first postseason running with Firestone tire test next week.
Sep 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Not what the Venezuelan would have planned heading into his Friday programme at Marina Bay.
Sep 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Returning to Kyle Busch’s No. 51 Truck, the 17-year-old Jones is making his first appearance this weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Sep 19, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
One of the most controversial F1 rulings in history could be scrapped after just one season.
Sep 19, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT
A red flag for Pastor Maldonado stops Nico Rosberg from posting a quick lap time, forcing him to settle for P12 at the finish.
Sep 19, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT
Belardi Auto Racing confirms its first Indy Lights driver for 2015.
Sep 19, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT
Can Fernando Alonso double up to top FP2? Or will Mercedes rise to the top as night falls in Singapore?
Sep 19, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
Who will star under the lights in Singapore? The MST writing team has its say.
Sep 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Will Buxton brings you the latest news and interviews from the paddock in Singapore.
Sep 19, 2014, 7:33 AM EDT
First blood goes to Ferrari in Singapore as Vettel and Vergne hit trouble.
Sep 19, 2014, 6:30 AM EDT
Teams put pressure on F1’s governing body to perform u-turn on the planned radio limits.
Sep 19, 2014, 5:45 AM EDT
FP1 offers the first chance for drivers to get to grips with the Marina Bay Street Circuit in the 2014 cars. Watch live on Live Extra from 6am ET.
Sep 18, 2014, 9:21 PM EDT
While Boris Said was getting ready for this weekend’s IMSA Tudor Championship event at Circuit of the America’s in Austin, Texas, it’s noteworthy to mention that Thursday was his 52nd birthday.
Sep 18, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT
Michael Waltrip took a big step when he agreed to compete on Season 19 of “Dancing With the Stars.” Now, Waltrip has gone and put his foot in his mouth by trying to kick Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the behind, so to speak.
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