Jimmie Johnson hopes to vault into the playoffs at Indy

JJ out of the postseason?

Jimmie Johnson

He’s one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history but for the first time in his career, Jimmie Johnson could miss the postseason.

Indeed, as the Monster Energy Cup season winds down to its final regular-season race with the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard, airing Sunday, Sept. 8, on NBC, from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 43-year-old Californian is in trouble.

As of mid-August, he was 18th in points, 26 points behind the 16th and final playoff slot at this writing occupied by Daniel Suarez. With no victories on his 2019 record (and, by the way, none since 2017), it may very well be win or else at Indy.

Fortunately for him, he’s run well on the venerable 2.5-mile rectangular oval, posting four wins, six top-fives and seven top-10s in 17 career starts there dating back to 2002. His four triumphs tie him with his former Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon and IndyCar drivers A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears for most all-time wins at Indy. A fifth on Sunday would give him yet another record in a Hall of Fame career and couldn’t come at a better time.

It’s a position the seven-time Cup champion isn’t accustomed to being in. But here he is in his 18th Cup season, hoping to get lucky at a track that has historically treated him well.

A field including past Brickyard winners Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Paul Menard stands between him and the postseason.

Full name: Jimmie Kenneth Johnson

Birth date: Sept. 17, 1975

Birthplace: El Cajon, Calif.

Height/weight: 5 feet 11 inches/175 pounds

No.: 48

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Sponsor: Ally Financial

Make: Chevrolet

Honors and achievements: Cup Champion, 2006-10, 2013. 2016; Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year, 2009

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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