Championship contender said the last half of the season has been "really weird"

Jimmie Johnson is still in the playoffs and has one more chance to advance into the final four, but he hasn't had the playoff run he anticipated.

Johnson's last victory came at Dover in June, and he had three wins in the first half of the season. But since then, he's struggled and now is in a must-win scenario heading into Phoenix.

Many thought Johnson would snap out of his struggles at Texas last week where he holds the track record for wins, but instead he wasn't even close to competing for the win.

Johnson told AutoSport that he's still confident despite his lack of consistency over the last few months.

"This last half of the year has been really weird," Johnson said.

"In places where we expect to run well and traditionally do, we haven't.

"But I know we're building a better race car and taking a few new ideas to Phoenix and we'll go there and fight as hard as we can.

"One thing this team will never do is give up."

Related: Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson only have one shot at avoiding some unfortunate history

Johnson has won four times at Phoenix, but his last victory there came in 2009.

He has a win in every playoffs since 2004, but this postseason hasn't been kind to him. Johnson finished 27th last week at Texas, and he has three top-10s this postseason. His best finish came at Dover where he finished third.

It's hard to count Johnson out given his seven championships, but he'll have to put together his best performance of the year to advance. It seems much more likely that Brad Keselowski or Denny Hamlin will advance to the championship race at Homestead while Johnson and his team move on to the 2018 season.