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Jimmie Johnson’s poor year has been one of the most popular topics of 2019 in NASCAR.
Always lingering around the bottom half of the postseason cutoff, Johnson bounced in and out through the regular season.
Now, with only one race left, the seven-time champion needs a nearly perfect weekend in order to advance.
Sitting 18 points behind the 16th place cutoff, Johnson is in a do-or-die scenario.
While he could still advance on points, this seems highly unlikely save for some very exceptional circumstances.
In order to be safe, #48 will likely need to win at Indianapolis to make it to the playoffs for the 16th consecutive year.
Johnson remains the only driver in Cup Series’ history to qualify for the postseason every year since its inception.
What: Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, IN
When: Sunday, September 8th at 2:00 PM EST
How: NBC (TV) | IMS Radio Network (Web radio) | NBC Sports App
Coming off his first ever winless season in the Cup Series, Johnson was hoping for a bounce back in 2019.
And things got off to a good start with a win in the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona.
While it was a non-championship round, the trip to victory lane could provide some additional motivation.
Johnson followed up with the third fastest time in qualifying for the Daytona 500 and a solid ninth place in the race.
After that, things went downhill.
The seven-time champion struggled to break into the top 10 consistently.
He also missed out on stage points, which have played an important role in the battle for the final playoff spots.
It wasn’t enough to secure a spot in the playoffs, however.
Even his teammates at Hendrick improved, Johnson found himself stagnant.
Summer came, and so did his somewhat regular drop in performance.
Seven-time hasn’t been able to crack into the top 10 since his season-high third place finish at Daytona in July.
In fact, he has not finished higher than 15th, due to a combination of on-track issues and poor performance.
The poor run led to the 18th place in the standings and an uphill battle for the final playoff spot.
Jimmie Johnson’s final shot at making it to the 2019 postseason comes at one of his historically best tracks.
The seven-time champion is a four-time winner at Indianapolis, second most in the series’ history.
While Johnson has not won there since 2012, he has remained competitive.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver came close to winning in 2013.
Johnson dominated the race and led the most laps, but a slow final pit stop killed off his chances.
He came close again in 2017, but a crash with three laps to go caused by a leaky engine also ended his hopes at a fifth win.
A record-tying fifth win at Indy seems unlikely this year, save for an unconventional strategy.
But Johnson could go for stage points in order to make it past the cutoff.
An all-in for the win is also possible, and could lead to an unexpected result.
One way or the other, Johnson isn’t a particularly solid pick, but does offer some value thanks to his history at Indy.
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