HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson enters this weekend’s season finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway trailing championship leader Brad Keselowski by 20 markers. But 20 points could be considered a slim margin when you factor in the experience and the drive of the No. 48 Lowe’s team.
“My focus is going down there (Homestead) and winning the race,” Johnson said. “We typically haven’t had to have that mentality going into this race, but we have shown we can race for the win. We did it in 2010 against Denny (Hamlin), finished second and won the championship.
“This No. 48 Lowe’s team can do it again. We have nothing to lose and can gamble and take chances. Brad (Keselowski) doesn’t have that luxury. This isn’t over. This team never gives up, and we don’t intend to now.”
Johnson and the No. 48 team have built a strong record this season entering the last race with five wins (most among Chevy drivers), 18 top-five finishes, 24 top-10s, four pole positions and the top driver rating in the Cup series with a score of 110.
Johnson's quest for a sixth championship was rolling along smoothly until last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway when he sustained a late-race issue and finished 32nd. The mishap cost him the championship lead and put him in a hole heading into the season finale at Homestead.
But the No. 48 team has rallied before. In 2010, Johnson came back from a 15-point deficit -- roughly four points by today's system -- to finish second and claim the championship. All told, Johnson has earned five championships from 2006-2010 by running well at Homestead. The No. 48 team has achieved two of Hendrick Motorsports’ three runner-up results as well as four top-five finishes and seven top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval, which remains one of two Cup tracks where Hendrick has yet to visit Victory Lane.
“We will go down and do our part and just see how things unfold,” Johnson said. “(Phoenix) was proof that anything can happen in this sport, and we will see how things shake out in Miami.”