NASCAR

JJ, Keselowski may face tiebreaker

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson
Can Jimmie Johnson win again and be in position to tie for title?
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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.

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Who feels the pressure the most in the Chase for the Sprint Cup – drivers, crew chiefs or pit crews? All of them are sharing equally in their own little world.

NASCAR Chase analysis

NARROW GAP

Title race winding down — so who has an edge? Chase driver analysis

Having been in that situation when I was a crew chief with Cale Yarborough, and then gaining more responsibility as it moved forward with Darrell Waltrip, you equally share that responsibility. You count on one another to do your job and realize that what you’ve been doing has gotten you where you are.

You need to try to just do it, don’t overdo it, and whatever you do, don’t beat yourself in the process of something like this.

This is not a time to change something up or overengineer something that has been working for you.

With five wins and four wins, respectively, the teams of both Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson have shown they have the capability of getting to Victory Lane. The next two tracks, at least in the early part of this season, were good for points leader Jimmie Johnson. He had some solid finishes at Texas and Phoenix.

Brad struggled at Texas, he and his Penske Racing team had the fuel problem early on this season and that cost them there at Texas, but he had a decent finish at Phoenix.

I’m using the next two races as kind of the measuring stick as to what we’re going to see when we get to Homestead. These two races will decide where we stand. I think these next two races may wind up being more important than even Homestead in that respect.

As far as playing the head games as far as working on each other’s nerves, these next two races will be real important.

The way this thing has been going so close, nip and tuck the last few weeks, what I find interesting is the fact that I think Jimmie can win another race, I know Brad can win another race, but here’s the scenario to think about. Could we once more be in a position where we roll into Homestead where both of our one-two guys have got five wins apiece and are in a potential scenario where they could tie and we wind up going to the tiebreaker, which is second-place finishes?

What’s amazing, when you start looking at that possibility is where if it happens this year, Jimmie Johnson would win because he’s got five second-place finishes this year where Brad has only got two.

If that’s a potential, if there’s any probability, Jimmie Johnson can sleep comfortably – provided Jimmie wins a race to tie him with five wins – Keselowski, well, it would be kind of disappointing if because you got two second-place finishes you wind up losing the championship.

It would be definitely bizarre if that was the case.

We said we would probably never, ever see this again, but the probability definitely exists and I think, once again, we’re looking at – you’ve got to win.

If you want to win the championship, you’re not going to get by with winning one, you’ve got to have multiple wins. The more the merrier, because right now if Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski tie, Keselowski is going to wind up being the champion just because he’s got one more win than Jimmie does.

 

Tagged: Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski

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