Jimmie Johnson has been on top of the points standing all but two weeks this season and currently sits a comfortable 75 points ahead of second place. With five straight Sprint Cup Series Championships, it’s clear to see why he is one of the favorites to hoist up the big trophy in Homestead. Johnson, after his eighth place finish at Watkins Glen last weekend, became the first driver to officially clinch a spot in the 2013 Chase. This feat ties for the earliest Chase qualification since Jeff Gordon in 2007 when he, too, earned himself a spot in the Chase at Watkins Glen. Johnson has also become the only driver to qualify for all 10 editions of NASCAR’s post-season celebration.
Since coming into the Cup Series in 2002, the lowest he has ever finished in the points standing was sixth in 2011, the year he lost the Championship after five consecutive wins. Since that season, Johnson and the Lowes No.48 team have been on an uphill climb to reclaim their rightful place; on top of the points at the end of the season.
Johnson excels at almost every track on the NASCAR circuit, which is what makes him the driver to beat each and every weekend, but for Johnson, there are a few tracks that he still has yet to tame. One of those tracks that “5-Time” has yet to conquer is that of Michigan International Speedway. With only four top-10 finishes in 23 starts, Johnson has definitely had his struggles at this fast track.
Michigan’s victory lane isn’t the only one who hasn’t had a visit by Johnson. The other four tracks where Johnson has yet to win all have one thing in common; the Sprint Cup Series only visits the track once per season. Chicagoland, Watkins Glen, Kentucky and Homestead are all tracks where Johnson continues to struggle.
Chicagoland, the track that kicks off the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, is a track where Johnson can’t seem to find a path to victory lane. With an average finish of 9.3, Johnson knows how to race the track well, he just can’t seem to close the deal when the checkered flag waves.
Although he has finished in the top-10 seven out of his twelve visits to the track, Watkins Glen seems to be another track where Johnson just can’t close the deal at the end. But with just one road course win in 24 starts, Johnson isn’t the only driver who tends to cringe when the series takes to the right turns.
Kentucky is a track that is still new to the Sprint Cup Series schedule. With only three starts, Johnson’s average finish is 6th and he has started from the pole there once before. Don’t expect this track to be on Johnson’s “winless list” for too long.
The final track that Johnson has yet to conquer is that of Homestead-Miami, the final race in the season and the final race in the Chase. To say Johnson hasn’t conquered this track is a bit misleading. More often than not, Johnson hasn’t needed to see victory lane; he just had to reach the checkered flag in one piece.
Johnson is no doubt one of the best drivers in the Sprint Cup Series and with five consecutive Sprint Cup Series Championships; he has all but solidified his name among the greats of Earnhardt and Petty. As the Chase nears, Johnson is guaranteed a spot in the final 12 and will no doubt be a threat for the Championship.
LATE NEWS: Johnson will be starting the Pure Michigan 400 from the rear of the field after a crash in practice, requiring a backup car be used. With this added challenge, can Johnson overcome and find his way to victory lane?