A late-race two-tire pit call briefly gave Johnson the lead in Sunday’s second race of a weekend doubleheader at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and he still came away with a third-place finish, his best effort since May.
But after the race, Johnson still sits four points outside the cutoff to make the 16-driver playoff field with only Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway remaining.
A Johnson victory, of course, would lock him into the field in what will be his final fulltime season in NASCAR. He could still make the field on points, but that would require a lot of effort in what is a very unpredictable race.
“It’s still Daytona, and in my opinion, the ‘big one’ or all the wrecks that can happen is really going to determine who makes it into the playoffs,” Johnson said.
“We did the best that we could here over these two days, had two respectable results, closed the gap, but now it’s kind of in luck’s hands or in fate’s hands down in Daytona at the plate rate.”
Not much has gone according to plan in Johnson’s final season.
In mid-March, NASCAR went on a two-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and when it restarted its season in May, the race weekends featured no practice or qualifying and only a handful of races have had a small…