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“This is a big weekend for them,” said Johnson’s teammate, Jeff Gordon. “This is a track that he really gets around well, that team does well here so they can get themselves right back in it in a hurry.”

Johnson’s only victory this season was at Talladega _ he had won no less than five each year of his championship run _ and he’s never run a full season without at least three wins. So something clearly isn’t clicking this year with Johnson-Knaus-Hendrick.

Something was off with Stewart’s program until he got straightened out five races ago and become the hottest driver in the sport.

So there’s time for Johnson to figure out what’s wrong.

It’s just running out.


Dan Gelston can be reached at