BRISTOL, Tenn.—Through the first seven races of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Jimmie Johnson has two victories. By definition, he’s locked into the Chase as long as he finishes in the top 30 in points after race No. 26.
Furthermore, Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet has shown enough speed in the first seven races—particularly on the intermediate speedways—to convince anyone who’s paying attention that he’s a likely contender for what would be his record-tying seventh championship.
But Johnson isn’t thinking about joining Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt on the top line of the NASCAR record book. In his view, the elimination format of the Chase precludes it.
“I don’t think, with this format, that you can (think about the title) until five to go or two to go at Homestead,” Johnson said. “It’s just a different feeling these days. I feel like we’re one step closer to that opportunity, but once we get in the Chase, there’s just so many things that can go on.”