Jimmie Johnson still has shot at NASCAR Cup Series title
FORT WORTH, Texas — Jimmie Johnson still has two conceivable options for a chance to race for his record-breaking eighth NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Win one of the next two races, or just be in the top four in points after that, and Johnson will get one of the four championship-contending spots in two weeks.
“I do feel good about getting in,” Johnson said.
Johnson is a seven-time winner at Texas, where the Cup Series races Sunday. He won there in April in the first race after the 1 1⁄2-mile track was repaved and restructured in Turns 1 and 2.
And in the current driver standings, he is only three points out of the top four spots.
His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott is probably in a must-win situation after being oh-so-close to being locked into a title shot at Homestead.
Elliott arrived in Texas eighth among the eight championship contenders — 26 points out of the top four — after being wrecked by Denny Hamlin when leading two laps shy of the scheduled checkered flag at Martinsville last week.
His first Cup victory would have locked him into a championship chance, and a top-five finish could have been a points boost. He finished 27th.
“As long as the week has gone along, it has given me a lot of time to think about how close we were to going to Homestead,” Elliott said. “I think if anything else that will drive you up the wall more if you think about it.”
Making things even more difficult and frustrating for Elliott in Texas, the No. 24 didn't make it through tech inspection in time to make a qualifying run Friday. He will start 34th while the other seven championship contenders qualified in the top 10.
Martinsville winner Kyle Busch, who held off points leader Martin Truex Jr. for the race that needed five extra laps, is the only driver who has clinched one of the four championship-contending spots in the season finale.
Kevin Harvick, holding down the fourth spot, starts third. Points leader Truex starts seventh, two spots behind Busch.
Brad Keselowski, the other driver in the top four spots, starts 10th. That is a spot lower than Johnson, who has gone 20 races without a win.