So now that we’ve had two repeat winners in 2014 — Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano — fans have started asking me when does Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart or any top team, for that matter, need to start worrying about being winless. The answer is pretty simple. It’s when they roll back into Richmond in mid-September still winless.
If you specifically want to look at the No. 48 team, I think they are poised to win. They’ve had some good moments this season in these first nine races but have let some things slip through their fingers. I think knockout qualifying has thrown them off their game a little bit. I really believe as we get deeper into this season, they are going to get that part of their game figured out.
I also believe the new rules package, including the no-ride-height rule for 2014, has messed them up a little bit. I’ve always maintained that they were so focused on winning that sixth championship in 2013 that it held them back in some cases on working toward 2014. So right now I see the No. 48 team in a catch-up kind of mode.
There’s no doubt in my mind that they could break through and walk away the winners this weekend at Talladega. That would put them right in the midst of the Chase hunt once again. This is a team that never, ever panics.
This is a team that historically always builds and seems to peak when it’s time to start the Chase. Until they prove me wrong, I still believe they have just as much chance today, yes without a win, of winning the 2014 championship as they did last year when they started the 2013 season off with a bang by winning the Daytona 500.