Even though the six-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus led No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team have yet to win a race and essentially lock themselves into the Chase this year, Johnson relayed a firm message at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway this weekend.
“Honestly, the way I see it is we’re locked in the Chase right now,” said Johnson, whose recorded three top-fives and five top-10s entering Sunday’s Aaron’s 499. “If it were to end where we are in points, we’re in the Chase. And I’ve been trying to explain that to many people through interviews and other things and sure, we want to win. We feel like we could have won a few times. But as of right now, we’re locked into the Chase. So I don’t know what the big concern and worry is.”
While Johnson’s point makes sense, the proof is in the facts.
By this time last year, Johnson had already been to victory lane twice, along with four top-fives and six top-10s and sole possession of the championship point’s lead. However, with NASCAR’s new version of the Chase emphasized around winning and the No. 48’s team inability to score Johnson his 67th career win, not to mention being buried eighth in the championship standings, the lowest he’s been since Talladega (April) 2012, the pressure to do something that so many people and his fellow peers are accustomed to seeing may be mounting.