AVONDALE, Ariz. — There’s still a way Jimmie Johnson can advance to the Championship 4 based on points alone.
But it would require plenty of help above him in the standings, not to mention either Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. or a non-playoff driver winning Sunday.
With that in mind, it turns into a simple proposition for Johnson and the No. 48 team.
“It’s a pretty easy approach for us – we’re in a must-win situation,” Johnson said Friday at Phoenix Raceway. “We wish we were in a better points scenario, but that’s not the case. This team thrives on pressure and adversity, and we’re certainly in the position right now.”
And it’s that pressure that Johnson expects will help push the No. 48 team to peak performance in Sunday’s elimination race at Phoenix.
“I feel pressure can make teams either play tight or some can play free in those moments, and I think our team has shown over time that we can play and race and compete free,” the driver explained. “We’re going to have to fall back on everything this team is made of to win here this weekend and keep our championship hopes alive.”
Harvick, Busch and Truex have all clinched their positions in the Championship 4. That leaves just one spot left at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which the remaining five drivers will compete for on Sunday.
That includes Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott. Both drivers are in a similar situation, where the surest bet to advance will be to find Victory Lane.
“I’m really proud of my team and the way that all of Hendrick Motorsports is working together to make sure that the No. 24 car and the No. 48 car have their best chances to win here and move on and stay alive for the championship,” Johnson said.
“We’ll find out Sunday afternoon.”