Jimmie Johnson might have joked about crashing fellow playoff contenders to help his chances of advancing to the next round, but the seven-time Cup champion does know next week’s race at Charlotte will be about surviving.
“We will just go there and give 100 percent and do what we can,” Johnson said after an eighth-place finish at Richmond Raceway. “It’s been one of those years, but we are going to go down swinging to the bitter end.”
Coming from the 21st starting spot, Johnson overcame both a speeding penalty at the end of the first stage and his trackbar adjuster breaking. Ending the night with a solid top-10 finish is a good sign, Johnson said. And even though he had top-10s in both Richmond races this season, he believes the short track is not one of his better tracks.
In 34 Richmond starts, Johnson has three wins (the last in 2008) with an average finish of 15.1. “And to get a top 10 is a respectable run for us,” Johnson 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.”
Late Saturday night Johnson found himself racing among the fourth- to eighth-place pack, which is where he ended up.
“We had to fight through track position issues a couple of times, speeding penalties, started in the back at the beginning of the race and then the trackbar adjuster not working really limited the ability that I had on the short run and then late, late in the run,” said Johnson.
“So, the middle part of the run I wasn’t bad, that is what we kind of aimed to set the car up for once we knew I had a problem. Through the meat of a run we aren’t bad, but short run and long run, I needed that trackbar to move.”
Johnson finished 22nd at Las Vegas. He is 14th on the playoff grid, six points below a top-12 transfer spot.