Jimmie Johnson showed flashes of his old self Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, running in the top five and placing in the top 10 in each stage before earning a ninth-place finish.
It was Johnson’s best result since finishing eighth in June at Pocono Raceway, nine races ago.
Saturday’s result was his second top 10 in that span.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver is inside the cutoff for the playoffs with two races left in the regular season, but he’s still mired in the longest winless streak of his career, which is at 47 races.
On NASCAR America, Dale Jarrett and Parker Kligerman discussed what Johnson’s performance could indicate for Johnson as the season winds down.
“I thought it was a positive night for the 48 team, ” Kligerman said. “I’m going to say for a couple of reasons. … It wasn’t a stirring performance where it felt like he was going to challenge at any time for the win. But I’ll tell you this, I was down in Turn 4 for most of the first half of the race … I got to watch Jimmie drive completely sideways every lap, on the bottom trying to pass cars. No one was as exciting to watch as that 48 car. I think that’s a testament to maybe the cars aren’t that great … I just saw him do that lap after lap and thought, ‘This was a positive night for the 48.”
Jarrett said he’s “not quite as optimistic” about Johnson.
“He’s driving his tail off and his race car isn’t going anywhere right now,” Jarrett said. “I think there’s a lot of work to be done here if they think they’re even going to move out of the first round of the playoffs.”
Watch the above video for more.