With 6th title in sight, Johnson stays in the present

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By finishing 23rd or better this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Jimmie Johnson will claim his sixth Sprint Cup championship and continue to build his argument as one of the best that NASCAR has ever seen.

But right now, his mind is focused on what lies ahead in the next three days – putting the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet up front tomorrow in qualifying, fine-tuning the car through Saturday, and then get the job done in Sunday’s season-finale.

As he said Thursday during a press conference at Homestead, Johnson is a guy that lives in the present. The time to count up all the accolades will come later.

“I’ve not been one to look at stats and pay attention to what’s been ahead of me and use that as motivation,” Johnson explained. “I also think a lot of that is due to the fact that I didn’t win a lot growing up – I didn’t grow up thinking that way.”

Those days are long gone. 66 wins and five titles with Hendrick Motorsports later, Johnson and his team have become the standard-bearers and the group that everybody strives to beat.

And with that proverbial target on his back, Johnson’s job to stay on top is a never-ending one. Considering his future place in history does not help in completing that job. Thus, he chooses not to dwell upon that often.

“Of course, yes, I’d love to win this year – I’d love to win a seventh or an eighth, just go on and on,” Johnson said. “That’s what you want to do. Is it realistic? I have no clue. And, honestly, I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it.”

Not that Johnson is completely immune to such thoughts. He noted that a friend of his once told him that limits begin when the vision ends. And with that, he tries to, in his words, “think a little bit and dream” every now and then.

How far does that dream go? Those seventh and eighth championships that would tie and then surpass both the beloved Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Sr.? Or maybe, something even more incredible – say, 10 titles perhaps?

That’s all for us to ponder over, though. Again, Johnson isn’t one to worry about the future and where his place will be among the greats. What matters to him is what’s happening now – namely, making sure he defeats Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick to get that championship “six-pack.”

“That’s just the way I’ve been,” he said. “Show up at the race track each week, count the races that go by, and hope you’ll have a shot at the end.”

Here’s the 33-driver starting field for today’s Indianapolis 500

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Want to know which driver is starting where in today’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

Here’s the full 33-driver starting field:

Row 1

20 Ed Carpenter (USA)

Ed Carpenter Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 1st

Past Indy 500 starts: 14

Best finish: 5th (2008)

 

22 Simon Pagenaud (France)

Team Penske

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 2nd

Past Indy 500 starts: 6

Best finish: 8th (2013)

 

12 Will Power (Australia)

Team Penske

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 3rd

Past Indy 500 starts: 10

Best finish: 2nd (2015)

 

Row 2

1 Josef Newgarden (USA)

Team Penske

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 4th

Past Indy 500 starts: 6

Best finish: 3rd (2016)

 

18 Sebastien Bourdais (France)

Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 5th

Past Indy 500 starts: 6

Best finish: 7th (2014)

 

21 Spencer Pigot (USA)

Ed Carpenter Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 6th

Past Indy 500 starts: 2

Best finish: 18th (2017)

 

Row 3


13 Danica Patrick (USA)

Ed Carpenter Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 7th

Past Indy 500 starts: 7

Best finish: 3rd (2009)

 

3 Helio Castroneves (Brazil)

Team Penske

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 8th

Past Indy 500 starts: 17

Best finish: 1st (2001, 2002, 2009)

 

9 Scott Dixon (New Zealand)

Chip Ganassi Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 9th

Past Indy 500 starts: 15

Best finish: 1st (2008)

 

Row 4

 

14 Tony Kanaan (Brazil)

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 10th

Past Indy 500 starts: 16

Best finish: 1st (2013)

 

4 Matheus Leist (Brazil)

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 11th

Past Indy 500 starts: 0

Best finish: none

 

98 Marco Andretti (USA)

Andretti Herta Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified 12th

Past Indy 500 starts: 12

Best finish: 2nd (2006)

 

Row 5

19 Zachary Claman Demelo (Canada)

Dale Coyne Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 13th

Past Indy 500 starts: 0

Best finish: none

 

28 Ryan Hunter-Reay (USA)

Andretti Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 14th

Past Indy 500 starts: 10

Best finish: 1st (2014)

 

23 Charlie Kimball (USA)

Carlin Motorsport

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified 15th

Past Indy 500 starts: 7

Best finish: 3rd (2015)

 

Row 6

 

30 Takuma Sato (Japan)

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 16th

Past Indy 500 starts: 8

Best finish: 1st (2017)

 

32 Kyle Kaiser (USA)

Juncos Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 17th

Past Indy 500 starts: 0

Best finish: none

 

6 Robert Wickens (Canada)

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 18th

Past Indy 500 starts: 0

Best finish: none

 

Row 7

 

33 James Davison (Australia)

A.J. Foyt with Byrd/Hollinger/Balardi

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 19th

Past Indy 500 starts: 3

Best finish: 16th

 

59 Max Chilton (England)

Carlin Motorsport

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 20th

Past Indy 500 starts: 2

Best finish: 4th (2017)

 

29 Carlos Munoz (Columbia)

Andretti Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 21st

Past Indy 500 starts: 5

Best finish: 2nd (2013, 2016)

 

Row 8

 

88 Gabby Chaves (Columbia)

Harding Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 22nd

Past Indy 500 starts: 3

Best finish: 9th (2017)

 

25 Stefan Wilson (England)

Andretti Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified 23rd

Past Indy 500 starts: 1

Best finish: 28th (2016)

 

24 Sage Karam (USA)

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified 24th

Past Indy 500 starts: 4

Best finish: 9th (2014)

 

Row 9

 

26 Zach Veach (USA)

Andretti Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 25th

Past Indy 500 starts: 1

Best finish: 26th (2017)

 

64 Oriol Servia (Spain)

Scuderia Corsa with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 26th

Past Indy 500 starts: 9

Best finish: 4th (2012)

 

66 J.R. Hildebrand (USA)

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 27th

Past Indy 500 starts: 7

Best finish: 2nd (2011)

 

Row 10

7 Jay Howard (England)

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports/AFS Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 28th

Past Indy 500 starts: 2

Best finish: 30th (2017)

 

10 Ed Jones (United Arab Emirates)

Chip Ganassi Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 29th

Past Indy 500 starts: 1

Best finish: 3rd (2017)

 

15 Graham Rahal (USA)

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 30th

Past Indy 500 starts: 10

Best finish: 3rd (2011)

 

Row 11

 

60 Jack Harvey (England)

Meyer Shank Racing with Schmidt Peterson

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 31st

Past Indy 500 starts: 1

Best finish: 31st (2017)

 

27 Alexander Rossi (USA)

Andretti Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 32nd

Past Indy 500 starts: 2

Best finish: 1st (2016)

 

17 Conor Daly (USA)

Dale Coyne Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 33rd

Past Indy 500 starts: 4

Best finish: 22nd (2013)

 

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