With possible qualifying, format and rules changes on the horizon for 2014, six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson says he is taking all the uncertainty in stride.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France said this week that the sanctioning body may increase incentives for race winners, Johnson said he will approach the game no differently.
“It doesn't change the driver's mindset much,” he said. “It might take (a driver) from roughing someone up to dumping him. It might bring that in. Maybe that is the excitement that some have in mind… that would be more entertaining, but I think it's just perception in some respects.
“Putting more weight on winning is not going to change what I do in there. I'm trying to get every point I can and win every race I can, so I don't see a big impact. But if it changes perception and pulls it in the right direction, awesome. If it gives us great story lines to talk about and write about, awesome. There is no down side in that.”
Despite winning Sprint Cup Series six titles in the last eight years, Johnson said there are new challenges to deal with in every new season.
“Things always change with rules, tires (and) formats,” he said. “We always look at ourselves as individual members of the team, and what we can do better at. Last year, I let a lot of races slip away during the regular season that I shouldn't have. So that is an area that I've got to focus on. for whatever reason.
“If it's procedures during the restart, or just not closing at the end, I let some (races) slip away that I need to correct.
“This year, there is a lot of change, at least until the green flag drops (at) race time. That will keep us all really busy -- at least until the halfway point of the season, trying to grasp what the car wants with the new rules package and the format for qualifying.
Now just one title away from tying NASCAR Hall Of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Johnson said he spends little time contemplating the feat, or what it might mean.
“I haven't put much thought into a (seventh title),” said Johnson. “But if it comes, (if) the opportunity is there in front of us and we get deep in the Chase and have a shot at it, that reality is going to be hard to keep that out of my mind.
“(It’s an) amazing opportunity to have ahead of myself,” he added/ “To have six company championships is something I'm extremely proud of. If I was able to tie (Petty and Earnhardt), I don't know what it would mean or what that experience would feel like. But to be up there with those two legends would be top of the list.