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Three-race swoon has Johnson spiraling in Nextel Cup standings

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CHARLOTTE (AP) -- Defending Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has his work cut out for him after a fiery crash knocked him out of the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race roared on without Johnson, and if his luck doesn't change real soon, so will the Chase for the championship. It was the second consecutive DNF for Johnson, who has dropped from fourth to ninth in the season standings the past three races. With only six races to go before the Chase field is set, Johnson knows he has a perilous hold on his spot inside the top twelve. It wouldn't be unprecedented for the champion to be ineligible to defend his title. It happened to Tony Stewart just last year, when a summer swoon knocked him out of the Chase. Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)