Jimmie Johnson needs a miracle to make NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Playoff, and the Brickyard might be the place for it to happen. Johnson, though, is a 60/1 longshot to win on Sunday. Kyle Busch is the favorite at 3/1. Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are next at 6/1.
The 43-year-old Johnson is 18 points out of the last spot, and goes to Indianapolis Motor Speedway knowing exactly what he needs to do.
“There is some pressure to go out and win this weekend, but that is what we do every weekend,” Johnson said. “We go to a track with the intention to contend for wins. If I look back over the first half of the season, I see a lot of races where we gave away a few points. It’s kind of unfair to put all the pressure on one race in Indy, but that is where we are right now. It’s a great track to win at. We know what we have to do this weekend.”
Johnson Mired in Slump
The seven-time Cup champion has won four times at Indy’s 2.5-mile track, and might have to win here again to avoid missing the playoff for the first time in his career.
“We are running out of days and if we miss it, it’s just going to be by a few I believe,” Johnson said. “If I look back over the first half of the season, I see a lot of races where we gave away a few points. So, it’s kind of unfair to put all the pressure on one race in Indy. But it is what it is and we are going to go there to win a race.”
Currently in the middle an 84-race winless streak, Johnson seems to be the victim of constant bad luck. Last week in Darlington, Johnson was in fourth place and then got tangled up in a multi-car wreck. He finished 16th.
“I had at least 15 years with a lot of luck of my side, seven years of championships and having two or three bad years 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.’’
Others Fighting for Spot
Johnson is not the only one on the playoff bubble. Ryan Newman and Daniel Suarez each have 617 points, but Suarez owns the tiebreaker. Still both know that they could be knocked out of the postseason.
“I’m racing those 39 people because of stage points and everything that is involved with that,” said Suarez who is 40/1 to win. “At the same time, I’m obviously tied with someone to make it into the playoffs. It’s one of those deals where you have to focus on your race and try and get the most points for yourself, but at the same time you’re always wondering where that other guy is.”
Newman will be equally focused.
“We know what we have to do entering this weekend,” Newman said. “We’ve shown all season we have a lot of fight and we don’t give up, so we’re going to continue that at Indy. Going back home to Indiana is always special for me and is a place that has been good to us over the years.”