Jimmie Johnson says that there are no guarantees he can carry his current dominant NASCAR Sprint Cup form to a sixth championship.
After a commanding performance at Daytona on Saturday night, Johnson holds a massive 59-point lead in the standings. Although that advantage will evaporate when the field is reset for the Chase in eight rounds' time, Johnson has been consistently fast at all types of tracks so far this year and his form has looked ominous for his rivals. But he feels that will all be irrelevant when the Chase commences at Chicagoland in mid-September.
"The Chase is so different," Johnson said. "We've entered the Chase with a ton of momentum, we've entered it off the pace... These 26 races are what they are and then it's time to move on and work on the next 10.
"When we get in the Chase there are certain feelings that seem to come around, but right now it's really about managing your team, managing your car, developing the car and things like that. As we get later in the summer, if we're winning races then, the right feeling will start to come along.
"It's still a little early and we're obviously trying to get every point we can to carry into the Chase with bonus points. But we have a little time before we focus in on that [championship] feeling."
Johnson conceded, however, that the psychological message he was sending his rivals with his current form was pleasing.
"I think that what we've done over the course of the year, leading the points like we have with a big margin, I think that probably sends the biggest message that we're buttoned up and ready and in a position to win a sixth championship," he said. "But there's a lot that can take place between now and [season finale] Homestead."