There would be no seventh time for “Seven Time.”
Jimmie Johnson, the seven-time champion in NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series, also hoped to become the first driver to win seven Cup races at Auto Club Speedway and, in doing so, snap a 27-race winless streak.
Johnson certainly tried, storming into the top10 early in the race after starting 33rd at the Fontana track. But the driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet couldn’t reach the front of the field and finished ninth.
Even so, Johnson called the finish “a good, solid day, and so we will take it.”
“We are definitely not happy with where we are right now, but we are seeing the improvements,” Johnson said. “We are making the cars drive better and better, and we are getting more competitive.”
More praise for Harvick
Kevin Harvick did not make it four consecutive wins due to an early-race accident, but that didn’t diminish Brad Keselowski’s opinion of Harvick’s No. 4 Ford.
“I still think the 4 car is probably the best car in the field right now,” said Keselowski, who finished fourth in his No. 2 Ford.
“Things didn’t come together for him today,” Keselowski said. “There will probably be a race in the future where he’s not the fastest and it does come together. That’s how things work.
“I would move on a little disappointed” after a race like Sunday’s, “and still be pretty happy to be the fastest car,” Keselowski said.
Erik Jones making strides
Erik Jones, a 21-year-old in his second year in the Cup series, finished seventh Sunday to give him his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.
“We had about a seventh-place car,” Jones said, “so we did a good job of running where we were supposed to and not making any mistakes all day. We have to keep doing that.”