FONTANA, Calif — Jimmie Johnson looks like the Jimmie Johnson of old again. Johnson’s winless drought extends to 98 races now, but it seems like it’s a matter of time before his career longest streak ends.
Johnson, looked strong in the season opener in Daytona. Unfortunately, he was collected in that Lap 183 “Big One” on the backstretch. Last weekend in Las Vegas, Johnson qualified 18th but finished fifth. On Sunday, he brought his No. 48 Chevrolet home seventh for his second top 10 finish in three tries this season.
“This team is going in the right direction,” Johnson said following his fourth top 10 finish in his last six Fontana starts. “I know in my heart what I am capable of and what this team is capable of. It’s just taken a little bit to get the right people in the right places, and rebuild and get this Ally Chevy exactly where it needs to be.”
Johnson though, says that while he’s happy with where they are going, he thinks they could have fared better if they could go the right direction with the car on his pit stops. The car was quick on short run pace but would fall off as a run would go on.
“We just couldn’t adjust this car on the pits stops quite enough to get the tight out of it,” Johnson continued. “It was really competitive and racy at the start of a run and then we would fade at the end. At the end, I thought I was going to blow a tire, I think I had cords on the fronts and I thought I wasn’t going to finish the race. So to salvage a top 10 out of it and two thirds in the stages, so we are headed in the right direction.
“I’m a competitor at heart and I want to win races and be up front and get it all done. So, I was pretty disappointed the way it finished and ended up seventh. But it’s a good sign of where we’re heading.”
For Johnson, this was his 26th and final start at what is considered as his home track. By virtue of that, Auto Club Speedway rolled out the red carpet for Johnson. They honored his pre race, they allowed his best friend to drive the pace car and had his wife and kids wave the green flag at the start of Sunday’s 200 Lap race.
Johnson, had a great view of it all. He qualified on the front row in second on Saturday, narrowly missing the pole by just .007-seconds.
“A lot of neat things happened today,” Johnson said of his final start in Fontana. “The card is full, that’s for sure.”