NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson 'blown away' as he nears his fourth straight Sprint Cup title
Even Jimmie Johnson is having a hard time grasping the enormity of his nearly completed bid to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
"I didn’t think it was possible,” Johnson said on a teleconference today ahead of Sunday’s Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. “I’m blown away and honored and enjoying every minute of what we’re doing here.”
Johnson holds a commanding 184-point lead over Mark Martin, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, in the Cup standings with three races left in NASCAR’s 10-race Chase for the Cup playoff: Texas, Phoenix and the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida on Nov. 22.
Jeff Gordon, another of their teammates and already a four-time champion -- but not in consecutive years -- is 192 points behind Johnson in third.
As they’ve done the prior three years, Johnson and his team -- led by brainy, impatient crew chief Chad Knaus -- keep pretending they’re behind in the 12-driver Chase to help maintain their edge.
"There’s still a lot of racing left and things can go wrong,” Johnson said. “I’m really trying to keep my head down. Until it’s mathematically locked up, we’re going to keep that mind-set and try to get every point that we can.”
But it’s widely assumed that a fourth consecutive Johnson title -- which would break the record of three straight that the El Cajon native now holds with Cale Yarborough -- is a fait accompli.
One reason: the upcoming race at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway, where Johnson already holds the track record for most wins with three. And he acknowledged today that “the best track remaining for us would be PIR.”
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: Jimmie Johnson. Credit: John David Mercer / US Presswire