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JOHNSON LOOKING FOR THE PLAYOFF UNI WITH THE “S”

There are no phone booths located on the grounds of Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. But somehow, seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson turns into Superman whenever he walks into the garage area of “The Great American Speedway.”

Johnson holds TMS’ all-time track records for wins (7), top fives (15) and top 10s (21). Among active drivers, the Hendrick Motorsports superstar boasts the top driver rating (107.3), second-best average finish (8.2) and the third-best average running position (10.3).

Despite facing the challenges presented by TMS’ repaved and re-profiled layout, Johnson won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 here on April 9. Fast-forwarding to the current Round of 8 Playoff standings, Johnson sits three points below Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing for the chance to advance into the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway later this month.

“Fortunately, I’m in a situation where I have two options left,” said Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS.  “We’re only a few points out and then obviously winning can advance.  I think of Chase (Elliott) and some others and the situation they’re in (where) a win looks like the only route.  Happy to still have two options. We scored some decent points last weekend (at Martinsville Speedway), although we didn’t get the finish result that we needed and wanted, but scored some stage points. We’ll maximize any and every opportunity we can this weekend to either win or get max points.”

The winner of four of the last six Cup racers on TMS’ 1.5-mile oval, Johnson believes he and crew chief Chad Knaus are operating from a position of strength.

“Yeah, I do feel good about getting in,” Johnson said. “I think we’re all just so used to momentum and we haven’t had that extremely high positive momentum, race-winning momentum on our side just yet.  One thing I know about our team is when we get hot - and we can get hot quick - great things can happen. The summer wasn’t fun for us and as the Playoffs started we’ve been able to ratchet it up some and clean up some areas, but we’re still searching a little bit and looking for more speed.

“We had a great test session in Homestead and some great thinking and ideas that were put into place for this weekend, so we’re excited to get on track knowing this weekend and how fast this track is.”

Johnson and HMS teammate Elliott both are below the Championship 4 cutline with the race here and at Phoenix Raceway remaining. Johnson confirmed that making sure at least one Chevy SS advances into the title round is a major consideration.

“Yeah, it’s in my mind,” Johnson said. “From a teammate perspective, Chase and Chevrolet, those things come into mind.  Of course, though, I’m selfish and most worried about myself and what benefits me, which would then benefit Chevy.  But yes, I want a Chevrolet in that Final Four without a doubt.  I hadn’t thought of it until now but yes, we need one in there.”

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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