It’s Time For Jimmie Johnson To Win Sprint Cup Title Number Seven
This NASCAR season is very unpredictable. The new Chase has really got a lot of fans and drivers wondering what to expect next. Kevin Harvick is the first driver to win the Sprint Cup Championship in the new format. Will he repeat? The “win and you’re in” scenario has played into a lot of driver’s hands.
Those who had multiple wins never even made to Homestead except Harvick and Joey Logano. One driver who I thought would take advantage is Jimmie Johnson. What looked to be a dominant summer by Hendrick Motorsports throughout May and June gave Johnson some promise even with Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning last year’s Daytona 500.
From Kansas to Michigan in five races, Hendrick owned the start of the summer. Johnson won three of those which were Charlotte, Dover and Michigan. Jeff Gordon won Kansas when Earnhardt Jr. took Pocono. Johnson appeared to be on his way to tie Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt with seven Sprint Cup titles. He so far has six. Throughout the remaining 11 races before the Chase, he finished with only two Top 5 and six Top 10 wins. His best finish was fourth at Bristol and Atlanta. In the first six Chase races, he only came up with two Top 5 finishes only to be eliminated after Talladega. He won his fourth race of the year in Texas after being eliminated.
Johnson finished a dismal 11th, possibly his worst finish since winning five straight titles. Jeff Gordon was the only Hendrick driver to win a Chase race while still alive. Dale Jr. and Johnson won after they were out. Only one thing can explain why Johnson couldn’t do it.
There had been talk of new pressures building since the new “win and you’re in” format was introduced, including expanding the field to 16 and splitting them into rounds. Has he and Chad Knaus learned from this new experience? It seems possible. They had learned to adjust when they were no longer able to win another title. They managed to win the 2013 Championship after a two year hiatus from the podium. I’m not certain if they will have it all figured out with the no testing rule and what not.
After the summer, Hendrick just couldn’t hold it together. Gordon was almost close to clinching number five before falling one race short. Even with three wins, Dale Jr. only managed to finish eighth and Gordon sixth.
Surely the Lowe’s Chevrolet will have all this sorted out by the time they wave the green flag at the Daytona 500. Jimmie Johnson is one step closer to joining the all-time ranks. It’s now time for the number 48 to win number seven. Honestly I want to see it happen since Harvick finally won his title. It will happen, it’s just a matter of when.