Johnson Relishes Return to Michigan

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 16:  Kevin Harvick (L), driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Chevrolet, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet, stand in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 16: Kevin Harvick (L), driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet, stand in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Jimmie Johnson finally found his way to victory lane at Michigan International Speedway two months ago. Since then, it’s been a rocky road.

Johnson, who won here in June for the first time in 25 starts, has led just six laps and has finished 39th or worse three times in the seven races since.

He’s glad to be back.

“We’ve had the craziest luck over the last six or seven races,” said Johnson, who finished 28th last weekend at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and dropped a spot to seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.

“Although we’ve only won here once, it’s been a very strong track for the No. 48 and there is a lot of room on this racetrack, so I think I can be out of harm’s way.”

The six-time Sprint Cup champion left the June race on cloud nine. His victory was his third in four starts and vaulted him to second in the season standings behind teammate Jeff Gordon. He’s already guaranteed a spot in the revamped Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and didn’t seem concerned about a lack of momentum when the playoffs begin Sept. 14 at Chicagoland Speedway.

“It’s nice to have momentum entering the Chase,” he said. “If it doesn’t happen, we’ve won championships that way, too.

“So, we’re taking it as it comes, but it has been a very challenging year.”

Johnson will have a long ride to the front of the field in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 (1 p.m. ET on ESPN), where he’ll start 30th.

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