Slow Start Doesn’t Worry Johnson
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on October 2, 2011 | 11:19 A.M. EST
“I don’t think we’re in a position where it’s win or nothing." (Photo: Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson’s disappointing start to the Chase for the Sprint Cup hasn’t slowed down the five-time series champion’s optimism for another title.
Despite getting out of the gate slowly in the first two races of the playoff schedule and finding himself 29 points out of the lead and 10th in the standings, Johnson believes there’s plenty of time to right the ship.
“I don’t think we’re in a position where it’s win or nothing,” Johnson said. “But we need a good top-three run here. There are still eight races left. When we look at how well we performed at Chicago, fuel got a hold of us there; we should have been top three and we ended up 10th.”
Johnson is a six-time Dover International Speedway winner and has his sights set on win number seven in Sunday’s AAA 400. That past success has Johnson looking forward to competing at the one-mile concrete oval and in turn getting his Chase back on track.
“We’re excited to be at Dover. It is arguably one of our best tracks for the No. 48 team,” he said. “Just excited to be here even from a qualifying standpoint. We all know how important qualifying is. This track has been real good to us in a lot of ways and we could leave here with a great run.
“Hopefully a win and get some great momentum working for our efforts for our sixth championship and make a whole bunch of points.”
Johnson says there’s nothing to make of the somewhat heated exchange with crew chief Chad Knaus on the radio last week at New Hampshire. He chalks it up to a part of the process between the successful duo and doesn’t put any stock in the moment being viewed as a sign of pressure.
“Last weekend, even with some of the creative radio chatter that took place, I was in position to finish probably top ten if I didn’t have that contact with the No. 18 car (Kyle Busch) and that was just racing stuff,” Johnson said of his overall frustrating day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “So, if could we take back and didn’t have an 18th and had a 10th at Loudon, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
With eight races left on the schedule and a number of tracks where Johnson has been successful, the approach is simply to take each race one at a time and not to panic.
“I don’t think we’re looking for the walk-off home run by any means right now,” Johnson said. “It’s just finishing where we should. At Chicago we didn’t have the fortune to finish where we should have and that is just the way it works with fuel mileage. Last weekend was some contact on-track and this weekend, we’ve got to go out and finish where we should. That is really the way I see it right now.”