With six races left in the regular season, where do you stand on Jimmie Johnson’s playoff hopes?
Nate Ryan: It seems dim for the No. 48, especially considering this is among the seven-time champion’s worst stretch of tracks in Cup. His best average finish over the next six tracks is at Darlington Raceway, where he hasn’t finished in the top 10 in five years. He probably will need some major help if he wants to qualify via a points berth.
Dustin Long: Whether Jimmie Johnson makes the playoffs isn’t the issue. Even if he makes it, he shows little sign of being a title contender. That’s the issue. Johnson is about championships not just making the playoffs.
Daniel McFadin: I don’t believe he’ll make it. He hasn’t been consistent enough, though his mechanical problems at New Hampshire were no fault of his own. I think his best shot at getting a win will come at Bristol. Otherwise, he’s in trouble.
Jerry Bonkowski: I still think Johnson makes the playoffs, although he may not be locked into the 16-driver playoff field until after the deciding race at Indianapolis. Part of the problem is Johnson’s team has been so inconsistent. He finishes third (Daytona) and fourth (Chicagoland) and then has consecutive 30th-place showings at Kentucky and New Hampshire. While unlikely to happen, I’d love to see Johnson be reunited with Chad Knaus. Maybe that would do the trick.
Can we just say it: At this point it’s OK to dump someone to win a race? Agree or disagree?
Nate Ryan: Agreed (and always have, as long as the winner accepts that the consequences could include retribution). That said, there also is honor in trying to adhere to a code of ethics that excludes a bump and run (a la Denny Hamlin on the last lap at New Hampshire).
Dustin Long: It’s OK to do whatever a driver wants. They just have to deal with the consequences. Maybe that comes back as a payback in the playoffs and costs them a chance at the championship. Or maybe the move helps lead them to the title. It’s risk vs. reward but there certainly seems to be acceptance with being more physical on the last lap.
Daniel McFadin: Absolutely, bumpers are on cars for a reason and this is NASCAR not IndyCar. That said, it depends on the track. I’m fine with it at a place like New Hampshire. I’d be less likely to be OK with it at tracks larger than Darlington.
Jerry Bonkowski: Disagree. If we start allowing “legal” dumping, where do you draw the line? What’s next, prohibiting blocking? Or how about prohibiting side drafting? Remember how much of a controversy erupted when NASCAR first allowed and then rescinded bump drafting? I’ve always felt that if you have to dump someone, you and your car are not good enough to win or make a legal pass.
There have been seven different winners in the last seven races. Do you foresee the streak continuing this weekend at Pocono?
Dustin Long: Streak continues.
Daniel McFadin: I think the streak continues with Erik Jones getting his first win of the year. He placed third there in June and has five top 10s in the last seven races.
Jerry Bonkowski: Unless weather becomes an issue that could lead to a rain-shortened race much like Justin Haley‘s win at Daytona, no.