Can Jimmie Johnson Overcome Struggles, Return to Sprint Cup Title Contention?

Brian Shannon@bshannon15Correspondent ISeptember 6, 2010

HAMPTON, GA - SEPTEMBER 04:  Jimmie Johnson drives the #48 Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on September 4, 2010 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

Four-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson is stuck in a rut.

NASCAR's brightest star has been dimmed the past seven weeks as Johnson has struggled to find the success that everyone has grown accustomed to him having.

Johnson's best finish over the seven-race stretch was his 10th place finish at Pocono on August 1st, and the Lowe's Chevrolet has had an average finish of 23rd over the past two months.

Many fans are wondering if this is the year that Johnson's record-setting reign as NASCAR champion will come to an end.

Johnson has shown in the past that there is no need to hit the panic button just yet.

Things have not gone Johnson's way as of late, but the No. 48 has shown throughout this season that he is still the man to beat.

Johnson has five wins on the year, while qualifying in the top five in 15 of his 24 starts.

Once the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins, Johnson will once again be the favorite, and everyone else knows it.

Johnson has obviously fared well under the pressure of the last 10 races during the past four seasons, but the pressure and expectations only get greater each year. 

While Johnson has struggled the past two months, Kevin Harvick has flourished.

Harvick has finished in the top five four times in the last seven races, taking the checkered flag at both Michigan and Daytona.

Harvick has all the momentum right now as the current points leader, but everything can chance once the chase begins.

Johnson has a great chance to build momentum starting with the race tonight at Atlanta, and next week at Richmond.

Johnson has fed off of momentum this season, while having spurts of good racing, followed by spurts of bad racing. Johnson won the two races leading up to his current struggles, and finished in the top six in the two races prior to that.

Johnson struggled before that good stretch as well, with six races in a row that featured only one top 10 finish.

He has clearly fed off of momentum this season, and his success in these next few races may very well determine how the chase will shake out.

If Johnson is able to turn things around at Atlanta and Richmond, then he will have a great chance at repeating and breaking his own record as NASCAR's first five-time champion.


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