Johnson Has No Room for Error

Jimmie Johnson

A loose wheel on a pit stop at New Hampshire helped contribute to a 25th-place finish for Jimmie Johnson. (Photo: Getty Images)

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DOVER, Del. – After getting off to a rough start with a 25th-place finish at New Hampshire, Jimmie Johnson needs a solid second Chase race Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
 
The four-time champion suffered through a very un-Jimmie Johnson like day last week at New Hampshire when he qualified poorly and struggled to race inside the top 10 at any point. A loose wheel necessitated several trips to pit road which eventually added up to Johnson being the lowest finishing driver in the Chase.
 
"Opening with a 25th isn't the right thing," Johnson said. "We're a great race team, we showed up and performed well, but that mistake on pit road and getting caught up in some wrecks and spun around and all that kind of thing – we just have to pick our chins up and lift our heads up and go to work."
 
Johnson knows it's important to keep a positive attitude and snap back from the opening problems as the Sprint Cup Series tackles Dover International Speedway for Sunday's AAA 400.
 
"We just can't get down and depressed," Johnson said. "We ran well, we were competitive, we need to go to Dover and get back in our game and do our thing and see how things go from there."
 
If Johnson uses past history as a guide, he may not feel too bad about his current position. Back in 2006, he opened the Chase with a 39th-place finish at New Hampshire and followed that with a string of poor finishes before finally righting the ship – and winning a championship.
 
"I left New Hampshire devastated," Johnson said of 2006. "I felt like we were out with no chance to win the championship and learned a lot from that season. More than anything, I know we all try to find statistics and trends that favor someone, but there are 10 races and there are so many variables and so many opportunities for something to go wrong that 2006 proved all that to me.
 
"We had two DNFs and then we go to Talladega and we get spun out on the last lap and wreck and still that late in the season, other people made enough mistakes that it let us back in. Yeah, 25th is not the way we want to start the Chase, but those other 11 drivers can also have their fair share of bad luck too."
 
Johnson has his plan in place for making up the ground he needs to over the next nine races and in his mind it's an easy process.
 
"It really simplifies things for us," Johnson said. "We've got to perform. There's nothing to protect, there's nothing to try to hold on to, it's all about getting back some points so it's pretty simple right now."

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