Chase Media Day Discussion All About Stopping Jimmie Johnson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 15, 2011) – NASCAR’s Chase Media Week ended Thursday, with all 12 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers converging on Chicago’s LaSalle Power Company for the annual Chase Media Day.
Drivers were ushered from television to radio to print media to a fan Q&A during the day-long session, and a familiar theme dominated each conversation: Who’s going to end five-time champion Jimmie Johnson’s unprecedented reign?
For his part, the typically cool Johnson sounded confident, despite entering the Chase with just one win – the fewest of any of his previous eight Chases. Said Johnson, “We’re in a good spot. Our win total isn’t what it’s been in the past, but we’ve had opportunities.”
Jeff Gordon ranks among the top candidates to unseat his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Gordon, a four-time champion (1995, ’97, ’98, 2001), won all four of his titles in the pre-Chase era. A runner-up in 2007, Gordon believes this might be his best shot in the Chase. “I’m excited about going to the race track every weekend. When I won my four championships, it was under the old format. You had to be consistent, and yeah, you had to win, but at the end you were trying to beat two or three guys. With this format you’re going up against 11 other guys. But I do think this is the best chance we’ve ever had at winning the championship [in the Chase].”
Kevin Harvick, who finished third after battling to the bitter end in last year’s Chase, says the No. 48 team is still the favorite. When asked if Johnson was more vulnerable this year, he said, “I heard the same conversation last year. They’re still the team to beat. They’ve won it so many different ways.”
Kurt Busch, who has tangled with Johnson throughout the season, spoke about the rivalry between the two past champions. Said the 2004 champion, “The Chase is intense. Every year you have your rivalries. I have a sibling rivalry with my brother Kyle, too. But you have to put that stuff away.”
But Chase newcomer Brad Keselowski might’ve uttered the most sound reason why Johnson’s end might be near. Said Keselowski, simply, “He is human, right?”