Reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson feels he is currently having a better season than at this stage 12 months ago, as he fights to put himself in contention for an unprecedented fourth consecutive title.
The Hendrick driver is currently second in the standings after scoring his third victory of the year at Indianapolis last weekend, where the Californian became the first driver in history to win back-to-back NASCAR races at the Brickyard.
"I truthfully feel better this year than last," said Johnson. "We've been more consistent with speed in the car all season long. We didn't have to play catch-up. That stuff is tough on the team, mentally, and tough on myself.
"So, we've had the speed; we've just been making small mistakes and we've had some things not go our way with fuel mileage and things late in the race. I think we could have won like five races if you look back at Chicago, Michigan, and a few other races.
"We could have a bunch of wins racked up right now. So hopefully we can figure out whatever it is that's keeping us from closing the deal at the end of the race and we can figure that out and get it going for the Chase."
The Hendrick Motorsports driver expects to be able to carry his speed into the Chase when he visits most tracks for the second time later in the year.
This weekend at Pocono he hopes to be able to get another shot at victory to further increase his team's confidence as the season starts drawing closer to a final play-off.
"As we get closer to the Chase it's nicer to have a win and carry the momentum and confidence that comes with that," said Johnson ahead of Sunday's race at Pocono, which he is set to start from second place on the grid. "We're excited. This is a much different track than what we see in the Chase, so it's more of a mental thing if we could leave here with a great run and great pit stops and adjust on the car and make good decisions, we'll leave here with confidence. It's hard to say we'll take much from the technology side from this track to anywhere else, but it's good for the head."
Although Indianapolis is not one of the tracks featuring in the Chase, Johnson'[s other two victories this year have come at tracks that he will visit once again in the title-deciding final ten races.