It comes down to this for the NASCAR season. One race. Three drivers in the running. Five straight titles on the line for Jimmie Johnson. He has done well going into the final weekend with the lead, how will he respond now that he is 15 points behind Denny Hamlin?
Once again, courtesy of ESPN, their analysts talk about Johnson:
How does Jimmie Johnson approach this final race?
Ricky Craven – “He’ll be better this year (at Homestead) than he’s ever been before because it’s very disruptive to go into this type of racetrack and these circumstances and have to play defense. It doesn’t allow you be as aggressive with the racetrack as you’d ordinarily be. Now, he can run the high line, he can take some chances on corner exits, you have to transition there because it’s a progressive-banked racetrack. These guys will shift their positions to different lanes throughout the day. He’ll be better because of it. I just feel like Jimmie Johnson has been in this situation, almost every scenario in the last four years. So why isn’t he still the favorite?”
Dale Jarrett – “He knows going in if he can lead the most laps, win the race, then the championship is his, regardless of what else happens. That will be his mindset.”
On the relationship between Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus:
Dale Jarrett – “I think there’s one thing that you have to understand from the driver’s side of it – you know that a lot of times that crew chief can be hard on you, and to the outside world it may seem a little bit harsh at times, but Jimmie appreciates it, he understands where Chad is coming from, and the other side of it is, you know that if you didn’t have that crew chief, that guy driving you all the time, then you probably wouldn’t have those championships and wins.”
How important is their experience as four-time champion?
Dale Jarrett – “Invaluable. Nobody else can boast that and say they have that. Harvick has Nationwide championships, Denny Hamlin doesn’t have any in the NASCAR series yet, but if that’s what was going to win it, they (Johnson) would win Sunday hands-down. And they may well do that. They know what they have to do and it’s right there in front of them. I think there’s a little more to it, but the experience side of it, they have everything that it takes in that respect.”