CONCORD, N.C. – After a cut tire cost Jimmie Johnson a potential top-five finish in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the driver knew the No. 48 team needed a bounce-back effort at Richmond Raceway.
They got just that, battling through numerous setbacks to take home a top-10 finish.
Johnson took the checkered flag eighth, marking his best finish since an eighth-place result at Pocono Raceway in June.
“Richmond is not our best track, and to get a top-10 is a respectable run for us,” the driver said. “I think we could have been at least inside the top five. I think we came close to maximizing what we had in it. So, I feel good about that. We came from the back two or three different times for different reasons and had a good finish out of it.”
Johnson started the race from the 21st position, moving up to 12th by the end of Stage 1. But he was penalized for speeding on pit road prior to the start of Stage 2, moving him back outside the top 20.
And through it all, an issue with the trackbar limited the driver’s ability to adjust the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1’s handling from inside the cockpit.
“I just had to deal with it,” Johnson said. “I think we could have been better, but it was a nice top-10 finish.”
Between the top-10 race result and extra points from a top-10 finish in Stage 2, the No. 48 team put together a solid day at Richmond Raceway.
Still, Johnson remains six points behind the cut line in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, currently 14th entering the final race of the first round.
He knows he has work to do this weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval” in order to advance to the Round of 12, but believes the Richmond performance was “a good sign” for the No. 48 team.
“Hopefully we can go to the roval and have a great day,” he said. “I think surviving is just the biggest thing. We will just go there and give 100 percent and do what we can. It's been one of those years, but we are going to go down swinging to the bitter end."