Jimmie Johnson’s hopes of a NASCAR-record eighth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title this season are hanging by a thread but don’t expect the veteran to simply role over.
On the track, Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team have shown the signs of speed and performance needed to advance in the playoffs, but a promising run at Las Vegas was curtailed by a wreck.
He enters Sunday’s Bank of America 400 at the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway as one of four drivers in danger of being eliminated from further playoff contention.
Asked following Saturday night’s race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway what his approach may be this week, Johnson jokingly said, “Crash all those guys in front of me, is that a good option?”
“I think surviving is just the biggest thing. We will just go there and give 100 percent and do what we can,” Johnson said. “It’s been one of those years, but we are going to go down swinging to the bitter end.”
After the 22nd-place finish at Las Vegas, Johnson managed to finish eighth at Richmond, and even then he was hampered by a broken track bar adjuster for much of the race. After two races he is six points below the cutoff line entering this weekend’s conclusion to Round 1.
Had he been able to finish Vegas with the speed that he had, or been able to maximize his potential at Richmond, Johnson could well be in a much better position.
None of that matters now.
To ensure he continues his chase for title No. 8, Johnson will likely have to exceed expectations at Charlotte.
“It was a nice top 10 finish (at Richmond). Hopefully, we can go to the Roval and have a great day,” Johnson, 43, said. “Richmond is not our best track and to get a top 10 is a respectable run for us.
“I think we could have been at least inside the top-five. I think we came close to maximizing what we had in it. So, I feel good about that. We came from the back two or three different times for different reasons and had a good finish out of it.”
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