Chase grid profile: Jimmie Johnson, No. 8

Jimmie Johnson has seen his share of struggles in the 2016 season but two early wins has him in contention for a record-tying seventh championship. It'll be a tougher road than usual for him to make history, though.

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Driver: Jimmie Johnson

Seed: 8

Team: Hendrick Motorsports, No. 48 Chevrolet    

Crew Chief: Chad Knaus

Best Finish: 1st, Atlanta and Auto Club

Age: 40

Hometown: El Cajon, California

From the Daytona 500 through the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson looked like he was in his usual six-time championship form. He had two wins, an average finish of 6.4, and was right there at the top of the points standings. 

Then the struggles and inconsistencies started for the No. 48 team. Johnson finished 23rd at Bristol in April and then placed outside of the top-15 in eight of the next 12 races, including three finishes of 30th or worse. After bottoming out with a last place finish at Watkins Glen, Johnson scored back-to-back top-10s before spinning at Darlington Raceway and finishing 33rd.

Johnson posted an average finish of 18.7 in the final 14 regular-season races and has season struggles from pit road to driver error and everything in between. 

Five-defining moments

1. Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta — The 48-car and winning have been synonymous over the past 10 years in NASCAR. Early in the 2016 season, it looked like Johnson was going to be a favorite for his seventh title when he won the second race of the season. 

2. Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway — In his home state, Johnson found himself in victory lane and scored his second win of the season. It appeared Johnson would be on his way to much more than two victories in the 2016 regular season.

Quaker State 400 at Kentucky — After leaving Kentucky in July, questions swirled around what was happening to the six-time champ. Two months later and it appears that all of the questions haven’t been fully answered yet.  

4. Cheez-It 355 at The Glen — It’s amazing that Jimmie Johnson started over 500 races, won six Premier Series titles and earned 77 wins, before posting his first-career last place finish. At the same time, it shows how much of a struggle parts of 2016 have been.

5. Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond — Early on at the regular-season finale, it appeared that Johnson was going to limp into the Chase with the vigor of a wounded animal, when he hit the wall with a flat tire. In a glimpse of his old form, Johnson and Co. rebounded to finish 11th and spark a flicker of momentum for the start of the Chase.