Jimmie Johnson enters another chase as the favorite to win it all, but you have to believe that this time the pressure is not on Johnson. Johnson has proven that he can turn the switch on, and off whenever he wants to. Johnson has five championships to his belt. Even if he crashes at Talladega, he still has a chance to win his sixth Sprint Cup championship because of that switch.
Johnson is only four points behind leader Matt Kenseth in the points standings so things won’t get settled immediately at Talladega, but a lot of drivers can lose their shot a championship at the track this weekend.
Two months ago, we were all discussing how Johnson had a terrible ending to the regular season as he didn’t finish higher than 28th place in four straight races. But he bounced back nicely entering the chase as he finished fifth at Chicago, fourth at New Hampshire, first at Dover and sixth at Kansas before finishing fourth last week at Charlotte.
Some are saying that Johnson missed an opportunity to gain the points lead into Talladega this weekend. But I don’t see how. The objective at Talladega is to stay alive, not necessarily win.
So when you look at the situation, who has more to lose at this point? Kenseth, or Johnson? I would say the pressure is on Kenseth because he has to protect his narrow points lead, while also worrying about not crashing at Talladega.
To show how dramatic NASCAR is, Johnson and Kenseth will be lining up in row six together due to rain canceling qualifying as all drivers will start off the race where they finished in order of first practice on Friday.