during the NASCAR Camping World Series Fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.

Former champion may be making his push after a strong showing at Dover

Jimmie Johnson didn't have the best finish to the regular season, but the seven-time champion put together one of his best races in several weeks Sunday at Dover.

Johnson finished third at the track where he's won 11 times, and he was pleased with his performance following the race. He advanced to the Round of 12, which means he'll have at least three more races left in his season.

"I think when we unloaded on Friday, we realized how much speed all of our Hendrick cars had," Johnson said via Motorsport. "As we look back over the summer, it just seems like tracks with more banking, our combination works well, and we were able to exploit that this weekend.

"I wished I would have qualified better (he started 17th). I really think we had a shot at winning the race, and at times I was better than (Chase Elliott) and (race winner Kyle Busch) and was catching them at the end."

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Johnson is fifth in the points after the first round, trailing only Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski.

Now, the playoffs head to Charlotte next week, where Johnson has won eight times during his career. He also won at Charlotte last fall en route to his seventh Cup championship.

No one is counting Johnson out given his pedigree, and his recent success is sure to at least scare his competitors heading into the next round.