With the NASCAR playoffs set to begin this weekend at Chicagoland, four NBC NASCAR analysts made bold predictions for the postseason.
One of the questions they answered was which playoff driver they believed was trending downwards entering the postseason, and analyst Dustin Long had the boldest pick: seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson, who won the championship last season despite a weak finish to the regular season, hasn’t raced very well since his win at Dover earlier this season. He has three wins this year, but the way he ended the year has Long skeptical of his chances in the playoffs.
“The stretch just before the playoffs typically isn’t his best part of the season,” Long said. “He’s following form again this year. Even so, I just don’t see him as one of the four racing for the championship in Miami even though there are many good tracks for him. I expect him to be better in the playoffs than what he’s run lately, but I don’t know if he goes beyond the second round.”
Dale Jarrett almost picked Johnson as well, but he said Johnson usually turns around wins whenever he picks against him. Instead, he picked Ryan Blaney as the driver he thinks is trending in the wrong direction.
Steve Letarte picked Brad Keselowski as the driver he isn’t expecting much out of in the playoffs, while Nate Ryan picked Jamie McMurray.
The Johnson pick was by far the boldest considering his success in the postseason and his seven championships, and he’s always going to be a threat in the postseason.
(h/t NBC Sports)