Calling the Chase: 3rd – Jimmie Johnson

Filed under: , , The NASCAR season truly kicks in Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup begins. From now through Friday, FanHouse will preview each of the 12-drivers and evaluate their championship chances.

3rd - Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports

Starting Deficit: 40 points

2008 Stats: 4 win, 9 Top-5s, 14 Top-10s

2008 Regular Season Point Standing: 3rd (-302)

2007 Chase Result: Champion (2nd Consecutive)

Chase Chances: Jimmie Johnson started off 2008 much like his fellow Hendrick Motorsports drivers with the occasional good run and then plenty of inconsistency. Johnson, though, seemed to pull himself up out of the hole much, much easier as the season wore despite the entire team dedicating many hours and days to testing in between race weekends. Johnson picked up his first win of 2008 at Phoenix on somewhat of a fuel mileage gamble, but really hit his stride once the series made the trip to Indianapolis as he picked up his second-career win at the famed 2.5-mile oval.

Now, heading towards the Chase, Johnson is looking as strong as ever and his competitors have got to be extremely nervous because of the way his charge is coming and its alarming similarity to his championship-winning season in 2007. The No. 48 has railed off two straight wins and as he heads to the Chase, Johnson sits within striking distance of the Chase lead within a single race. Johnson will be a huge -- if not the biggest -- factor in how this Chase ends up. A 3-peat for the defending champ? Seems like a good call to me.

In It to Win It.

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