There are those that are pretty good and those that are really good. But when it comes to racing at Dover International Speedway, one who is greatest: Jimmie Johnson.
The 11-time Dover winner returns to the notoriously tough “Monster Mile” this week for the AAA 400 (2 p.m. ET. Sunday, FS1, SiriusXM NASCAR radio) looking to score his first win of the season – and first in the last 33 races. It’s not the typical set of circumstances for the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion. But his desire to win isn’t based on how long it’s been since he last won. He just likes to succeed and Johnson sure has hoisted a lot of trophies in Dover victory lane.
“I love Dover, wish we raced there more than twice a year, it’s a great race for this Lowe’s for Pros team and I absolutely cannot wait to get there,” the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet said this week.
And it’s not that he has just “good” reason to feel that way, but a fantastic reason to feel that way.
Johnson’s 11 victories are most all-time at the track. Should he win another race Sunday afternoon Johnson would have more victories at Dover than all the other competitors in the field – COMBINED.
How good is he? Johnson won the first two Cup races (2002) he ever ran at Dover – a historical first. And in that fast start, he led 358 of the combined 800 miles – nearly 50 percent of the laps run.
Johnson is the only driver to earn multiple wins in the last 13 races, and during that span alone, he has won five times. His 3,105 laps out front is a record mark. It’s significantly more laps led at the track than anyone else on the list, which includes NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison (2,803), sure-to-be Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon (2,396), and Johnson’s fellow seven-time Cup champions Richard Petty (2,205) and the late Dale Earnhardt (2,151).
Since 2009, Johnson hasn’t gone more than four races at Dover without a victory. He easily leads the statistics in six of the nine categories kept by NASCAR including a driver rating of 118, which is a stunning 10 points more than any other competitor. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott is next with 107.6 through four career starts at the track. Of those with a higher number of starts, Kyle Busch is next with 105.8.
A hard-fought 12th place finish at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway over the weekend moved Johnson up to 14th in the 2018 Cup championship standings – his highest position yet after a frustratingly slow start. However, he has top-12 finishes in four of his last six races including a season-best of third place at the challenging Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway short track three weeks ago.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!