Jimmie Johnson is the only driver in the NASCAR Cup Series history to have never missed the postseason.
The seven-time champion has qualified for the Chase as well as the playoffs every year since the format's inception in 2004.
This year, however, things have been significantly different.
Currently riding a winless streak that is now at 75 races, Johnson is in real danger of missing the playoffs.
Following Sonoma, #48 dropped down to 17th in points and out of the cutoff.
With ten rounds remaining before the field is set for the playoffs, this was a first for him.
In the last 15 seasons, Johnson always qualified for the postseason with relative ease.
Even when the field was decided by points, the Hendrick Motorsports driver always secured a spot with time to spare.
In 2018, despite not having won a race, Johnson still advanced with the 14th place in points.
He had to wait until the regular season finale at Indianapolis to secure the spot.
Still, Johnson arrived at the Brickyard with a safe margin, more than 80 points ahead of the cutoff.
Only a win by a driver outside the top 16 could get him out, which did not happen.
How to Watch
What: Coca-Cola Zero Sugar 400
Where: Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL
When: Saturday, July 6th at 7:30 PM EST
How: NBC (TV) | Motor Racing Network (Web radio) | NBC Sports App
What Jimmie Johnson Needs in Order to Qualify
A driver can qualify for the playoffs either by winning a race or by placing inside the top 16 in points.
If a race winner ends outside the top 16, that driver will qualify and bump out the lowest seed.
Only regular season drivers are eligible and must be inside the top 30 in points in order to advance.
As it stands, seven different drivers have won races in 2019 thus far.
In other words, all race winners from now on are guaranteed to make it to the postseason.
The easiest way to secure a spot in the playoffs would then be snapping the 75 races winless streak.
Hendrick Motorsports has shown some significant improvements since the start of the season.
But the team is still a few ways away from being a contender, and way off its usual powerhouse form.
In other words, while it might be a possibility, this scenario seems slightly unlikely.
Johnson only has four top 5 finishes in the past two seasons combined.
The easiest way would be getting back inside the top 16 in points.
That being said, Hendrick is coming off a solid showing at Chicago.
Alex Bowman scored his maiden win while Johnson came home fourth after starting in the top 5.
A Look at the Battle for the Top 16 Cutoff
With no winners outside the top 16 in points, the fight for the cutoff becomes extremely important.
It is an extremely close battle at the moment.
Daniel Suarez, 15th in the standings, sits18 points above the cutoff.
Erik Jones, down in 18th, is only five points off the bubble.
Stage points will likely be the decisive factor, and Larson might be the best example.
The Chip Ganassi driver has struggled this season, scoring two top 5 and only six top 10 finishes.
His 100 stage points, on the other hand, place him inside the top 10 in that statistic.
It is still a bit too early to know whether or not Johnson will be in the playoffs come September.
Even then, it's safe to say that the seven-time champion will likely be a non-factor in the title fight.
2019 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Championship Odds
|Driver||Championship Winner||888Sports Link|
|Busch, Kyle||+250||Bet Now|
|Truex Jr, Martin||+450||Bet Now|
|Harvick, Kevin||+650||Bet Now|
|Logano, Joey||+750||Bet Now|
|Truex Jr, Martin||+700||Bet Now|
|Keselowski, Brady||+800||Bet Now|
|Elliott, Chase||+900||Bet Now|
|Hamlin, Denny||+1400||Bet Now|
|Johnson, Jimmie||+1500||Bet Now|
|Larson, Kyle||+2000||Bet Now|
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