Jimmie Johnson: Wins are big, but points are still important

FONTANA, CA - MARCH 21: Jimmie Johnson (right), driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, speaks with crew chief Chad Knaus during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
FONTANA, CA - MARCH 21:  Jimmie Johnson (right), driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, speaks with crew chief Chad Knaus during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2014 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
FONTANA, CA – MARCH 21: Jimmie Johnson (right), driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, speaks with crew chief Chad Knaus during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

FONTANA, Calif.—From Jimmie Johnson’s point of view, it’s far too early to worry.

True, Johnson is 0-for-4 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year, but the mini drought hasn’t raised any red flags for the six-time champion, who averages better than one win in every seven starts over his career.

“It’s not even close to time (to worry) yet,” Johnson said Friday before opening Sprint Cup practice at Auto Club Speedway. “When you look at the stats and you have 16 different winners in a year, it’s a pretty rare occurrence.

“I still think that points are every bit as important as they have been until you get to Homestead.”

Johnson noted that, at every stage of the qualification process for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and in the Chase itself, the points leader will advance. In the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the top finisher among four eligible drivers wins the series championship.

“Even when you get into the Chase itself, the top guy in points will advance in pretty much every scenario or every scenario–even the final one–to race at Homestead. So points are still the focus in what I’m looking at.

“We’ve been able to win multiple races a year with a certain mind-set. I’m not going to chase home runs. I’m looking at a smooth and consistent 26 races, and when we get a look at a home run, we’re going to swing for it. But we’re not stepping up to the plate every time trying to hit it out.”

It’s hard to argue with an approach that has produced 66 victories and six championships in 439 starts. And by the way, Johnson toured the two-mile track in 38.163 seconds (188.664 mph) on his first lap Friday, faster than Kyle Busch’s 2005 record qualifying lap (38.248 seconds/188.245 mph).

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.