Jimmie Johnson does not see this weekend's third round of the Chase as a must-win in order to keep his championship hopes alive.
The reigning Sprint Cup champion arrives to Dover 10th in the playoff standings, 29 points behind leader Tony Stewart following two of the 10 championship-deciding races.
Three wins out of his last five races at the one-mile oval point at him getting his championship bid back on track, although Johnson doesn't believe it is time to panic yet. While admitting he needs a strong result to move up in the Chase ranking, he says not winning on Sunday wouldn't mean he's out of the title race by any means.
"I don't think we're in a position where it's win or nothing," said Johnson. "We need to get a top-three run here. There's still eight races left. When we look at how well we performed at Chicago. Fuel got a hold of us there and we should have been top-three and we ended up 10th.
"Last weekend [at New Hampshire], even with some of the creative radio chatter that took place, I was in position to finish probably top-10 if I didn't have that contact with the 18 car [Kyle Busch] and that was just racing stuff. So, if we could take it back and didn't have an 18th and had a 10th at Loudon, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation.
"I don't think we're looking for the walk-off home run by any means right now. It's just finishing where we should....That is really the way I see it right now."
Although Tony Stewart has got his Chase off to an impeccable start, taking two wins in a row, Johnson says it's too soon to jump to conclusions about the title. He notes how the two-time champion struggled in the weeks leading up to the playoff series and says the season hasn't seen anyone being able to carry the momentum all along.
Johnson reckons he hasn't yet seen any of his rivals having what it takes to be dominant for the reminder of the season, like he probably has been for the past few years.
"It has been really tough to have a driver and team stay on top for a long period of time [this season]," he said. "I think a lot of drivers spoke about that in the pre-Chase media before the Chase started.
"If you go back to Richmond, there was a stretch there where the No. 14 [Tony Stewart] wasn't running well. And some of Tony's comments, you could tell the place where they were mentally. It wasn't in a true championship mindset. Well, two weeks of winning can certainly turn that around.
"So, my point...we just don't know. It is easy, we all want to predict now. But we can't. We have to run all 10 races. Whoever does catch fire and can stay consistent, they can have a run-away year. But I haven't seen anything to show me that it is going to be a run-away year for anyone."
Johnson leads all current Sprint Cup drivers with six victories at Dover, four of them being Chase races. He last won at the track known as "The Monster Mile" a year ago in what turned out to be his only win during the 2010 playoff run.