Next two races will tell if Johnson, Knaus can right their No. 48 ship
MAY 25, 2014 9:13a ET
Once we get through the Coca Cola 600 this Sunday and then the race at Dover next Sunday, it signifies two things. First, it means we have reached the halfway point of the NASCAR Sprint Cup regular season. Secondly and more selfishly, it sadly marks the end of the 2014 NASCAR on FOX season.
There are going to be a lot of drivers who have to look in the mirror at that point and say, "I've got to step it up. I've got to do a better job in the second half of the season." Now obviously I don't have a crystal ball and can't predict who is going to win these next two Sundays. Obviously if I could, I'd be making my living in Las Vegas.
But right now as I am writing this, the No. 1 guy who comes to mind that needs to get his season turned around is the guy who has been No. 1 in our sport for an incredibly long time. Naturally, I am talking about ol' Six Pack -- Jimmie Johnson.
For whatever reason, Jimmie and crew chief Chad Knaus are finding themselves more outside their normal game plan and rhythm than ever before. Historically, they have a couple wins on the board by now and are into a rhythm of how they want to race until Richmond in September, which is the last race before the Chase begins. In the past when that has happened, it's almost like they were snake charmers lulling the rest of the garage into thinking their way and playing the game their way.
It has been anything but that for the No. 48 team so far in 2014. They don't find themselves charming anybody right now, especially themselves. So I think this weekend and especially next weekend at Dover, where Jimmie has simply owned that joint for years, are very big weekends for this group.
If they can't get something going this weekend -- and let's be honest, they didn't have an all-star performance at the Sprint All-Star Race last Saturday evening -- or something going at Dover where Jimmie's record is nothing short of domineering, then I believe it will be a clear signal that 2014 is not going to be the year that Jimmie makes NASCAR history by winning that magical seventh championship.