FONTANA, Calif — Jimmie Johnson says a win in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN) would be insane. Johnson, heads into the third race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season riding a career long 97-race winless drought.
But, Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet is closer to snapping that streak now than at any point last season.
Johnson, had a fast race car in Daytona, had a top 10 and at times, top five race car last weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Now, following a car with decent pace in practice on Friday, the El Cajon native thinks that he has a shot at winning this weekend for the first time since June 2017.
“It would be insane,” Johnson said on Friday from the Auto Club Speedway. “Home track, first win, you could just go down the list of meaningful talking points that could come out of it. The way last weekend went with the speed that we had in our Hendrick cars and the way mine drove, I’m very optimistic about this weekend and it would just be incredible to pull that off if we could.
“We ran in the top 10 and the top five for most of the day (at Vegas). The car honestly responded well to adjustments through the weekend. So with all of these things we have that are going on, it was really just a deep breath. It’s like, ‘all right we’re in a way better place than we were leaving Vegas last year at this time.’ So it’s just a relief and we know we still have a ton of work ahead. But, we’re not panicked or overly stressed about what we have in front of us. We can just be calm and relaxed and get to work.”
Six of Johnson’s 83 career wins have come here. That’s most among any driver. In 25 career starts, his average finishing position is 7.6. This weekend though, will be his 26th and final start at what he considers his home track.
The track will plan special festivities for Johnson this weekend including having his family wave the green flag, him leading the field during the 5-wide salute and his long time friend Ricky Johnson serving as the pace car driver.
“This is certainly a different one for us and my family,” the seven-time series champion continued.
He will have a good view of his family and friends on Sunday. He qualified second, meaning he will be on the front row, right behind his friend in the pace car and the first row to take the green flag that his wife and kids will be waiving.