One Last Chance at the Yard of Bricks

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One Last Chance at the Yard of Bricks

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What looked like a promising night for Jimmie Johnson and the 48 team turned into a bad night in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. After running inside the top 10 most of the night, Johnson ended the night finishing in 16th place. This is the seventh consecutive race that he has failed to finish higher than 15th. Now Johnson is still on the outside looking in to make the playoffs heading to the regular season finale at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Sunday.

Even though Johnson didn’t finish the way he wanted to, he still gained some valuable points so he still has a shot at making the postseason. Going into Darlington, Johnson was 26 points behind the cutoff line. Now going into Indianapolis, Johnson is now only 18 points behind Daniel Suarez and Ryan Newman for the final playoff spot. Suarez is tied with Newman for the final playoff spot, but Suarez wins the tiebreaker over Newman because of his best finish in a race this season. 

Since the playoffs debuted in 2004, Jimmie Johnson has never missed the postseason. Johnson is one of the only drivers to be apart of the playoffs since its debut year. Since the debut of the playoffs, Johnson has won seven championships, tying Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt with the most number of championships in NASCAR history. Johnson won five championships in a row from 2006 to 2010, the only driver to do that in NASCAR history. He also won the championship in 2013 and 2016. Johnson is also the only driver to win seven NASCAR National Series championships the fastest over Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Johnson is one of the greatest drivers of this current generation. 

During the Southern 500 weekend, Johnson had a fast car all weekend long. In the article “Jimmie Johnson has one last chance to make Cup playoffs,” Johnson said, “They knew we were here.” Sadly he didn’t get to show that his car was fast during the race after being involved in a crash with about 90 laps to go in the rain-delayed race. In the article by Long, “I had at least 15 years with a lot of luck on my side, seven years of championships and having two or three bad ones is just part of it,” Johnson said. “I keep saying that we’re getting there, and tonight we showed it, from the way we qualified to how we ran on those stages. I was running fourth when that accident took place in Turn 3, and I just had nowhere to go.” Johnson got collected in a crash when Daniel Hemeric had a tire go down and hit the wall. Michael McDowell and Denny Hamlin also got involved, and Johnson couldn’t avoid them suffering left front damage from it.

Johnson continued after the wreck and later found himself in the lead for a brief period. When others began pitting early in the final pit cycle with about 45 laps to go, crew chief Cliff Daniels kept Johnson out, hoping a caution would put them back into contention. Johnson led laps 324 to 326 in the 367-lap race before he was the last driver to pit under green.

Going into the Brickyard 400 this Sunday, Johnson needs to have the race of his life if he wants to keep his playoff hopes alive. For Johnson to make the playoffs without a win, he needs Suarez and Newman to have a bad race and Johnson would need a top 5 to guarantee a spot in the playoffs. But Johnson is aiming to win this Sunday to show that he can still win races after not winning one for over two years and to guarantee his spot in the playoffs. Stay tuned for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard this Sunday on NBC to see if Johnson can lock himself into the playoffs.

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