Jimmie Johnson: “With the poor finish we just had, we need to buckle down and get to work.”
Jimmie Johnson came into the 2017 season as the defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. He’s on a short list with the likes of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr, all tied for the most NASCAR titles, at 7.
After the championship win last year, Johnson bought a house in Aspen Colorado. He then went into full vacation mode.
“Last year we knew was pretty unique in being able to spend five full months out there [in Colorado] in a row,’’ Johnson told NASCAR.com. “This year we won’t do that, we’ll just go out for holiday seasons and maybe West Coast swings, things like that.”
“I’m sad I won’t be there as much but it was a lot easier last year after a championship. With the poor finish we just had, we need to buckle down and get to work.’’
The first part of the new season, it looked like it was going to be a typical Johnson year. He picked up 3 wins early on. However, his last of the season came at Dover in June. After that win, Johnson had a best finish of 3rd, which came on the next trip to Dover, in October.
3 wins is a great year, for most. However, for Jimmie Johnson the standards are set a bit higher. 3 wins, that’s the lowest number of trips to victory lane, since 2011.
“I feel like the way the last quarter of the season went for us was below our expectations and certainly our fans and probably even the people reporting on the sport,’’ Johnson reflected. “It is unfair to always expect us to win a championship but I think being competitive and leading laps and challenging for wins … that’s a fair expectation and we just didn’t do that at the end of the year.”
“That wasn’t easy to deal with. I had a good couple weeks, kinda relaxing after Homestead but then next week will be a work week, time to get back in the shop. I’m ready to get back to work.”
A title win in 2017 would have put Johnson at the top. He would have stood alone at the top of the all-time NASCAR champions list. Yet, in 2017 didn’t make the Championship 4.
“Every offseason has different effects,’’ Johnson said. “This one is much more about letting go of stress and tension and relaxing. Last year after winning the championship it was being on top of the world and celebrating and trying to get to Colorado as fast as I could to ski as often as I could. This year is a lot different”
“This year I’m kind of licking my wounds in a sense. Trying to think through what we could have done better in ’17. As the month moves on start thinking of ways we could communicate better, put a better product on the track.”
In 2018, Chevrolet rolls out a new weapon. Their sports car line joins the stock car racing series via the ZL1 Camaro.
Related: 2018 Chevrolet Camaro released
“I’m optimistic about 2018 and the new Camaro,’’ Johnson said with excitement. “From an aerodynamic standpoint the Chevrolets have not had an update since we went to this generation of car. For us to finally have an update the car will produce more downforce, be more efficient, definitely more competitive on the downforce tracks.”
“Our goal is to be in that (Championship 4) and compete for a championship.”
Jimmie Johnson finished 10th in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers’ standings.