Jimmie Johnson’s final season is showing that he’s capable of winning again. Maybe, a 100+ race winless drought can end this Sunday at the Kentucky Speedway.
Johnson, luckily got the clearance from doctors and by NASCAR to return to the seat of his No. 48 Chevrolet on Sunday. Last week, he missed the Brickyard 400 as a result of a positive COVID test. Now, he tested negative for consecutive days and is able to return in Sunday’s Quaker State 400.
Missing the Brickyard though, dropped him three spots in the standings from 12th to 15th.
Right now, he’s +36 over the bubble. With how strong Erik Jones has been at Kentucky (3 straight top 10’s), Johnson may find himself on the outside by time he gets back in the car. Also, now that he went down to 15th in the standings too, he’s out of the top 12 of owners points, which also means that instead of starting in the top 6 Rows, the best he’ll start now is 13th since qualifying is pretty much non existent for the foreseeable future.
That big because starting position matters at Kentucky. Eight of the nine years that the Cup Series has been coming to Kentucky, the race winner came from a top 10 starting position.
But, if Johnson can beat the odds, then he will pick up a rare feat for him in the 400 mile race.
He’s won seven Cup Series championships, tied most all time. Among his 83 career wins in NASCAR’s premiere series are four Brickyard 400 crowns, four Coca-Cola 600 victories, two Daytona 500 triumphs and two Southern 500 trips to victory lane. To go along with that are four wins in the All-Star race and two in the Clash.
He’s won at Dover 11 times, Martinsville nine times, Charlotte eight and Texas seven times respectively. Among the only few things missing is Kentucky.
There are only three tracks that Johnson has yet to win at on the Cup Series schedule. One of which is this Sunday in the Quaker State 400. Another was the canceled race at Chicagoland Speedway and the third is in August at Watkins Glen.
Other than winning an eighth Cup Series title, winning on every track on the schedule is high on his priority list. He won’t get to scratch off Chicagoland or Watkins Glen now, but Kentucky he still can.
He actually started off pretty good at Kentucky too but has since tapered off. He finished third, sixth, ninth, 10th and ninth respectively in his first five starts. But, over his last four, he’s been 32nd, 40th, 14th and 30th respectively. The third place run in the inaugural race is his lone top five in nine tries too.
Now, he’s riding a 108 race winless streak.
This is a rough patch of his career. Can he make up for it with a win later this season?