Chasing History: Jimmie Johnson seeking to win fourth consecutive Coca-Cola 600 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 23, 2006) -- Who will challenge Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) in Sunday's 47th annual Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's ...
Chasing History: Jimmie Johnson seeking to win fourth consecutive Coca-Cola 600
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 23, 2006) -- Who will challenge Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) in Sunday's 47th annual Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway?
Well, to start, Johnson himself.
Certainly many of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series peers have him in their sights -- and the opportunity to spoil his winning streak there -- but the current master of the 1.5-mile track in Concord, N.C., could make some Memorial Day weekend history with a fourth Coca-Cola 600 victory.
The three-time defending champion of one of NASCAR's major events, Johnson is the only driver to win three consecutive Coca-Cola 600s.
A victory by Johnson Sunday night will mark the 10th time in NASCAR history that a driver has won the same event at least four consecutive times.
"I've had other success at Pocono and Dover, New Hampshire," Johnson said. "I've done that in the course of a year, but to come back and repeat it year after year is tough to do. I'm really proud of the fact that we've been able to continue to do it in Charlotte."
Aside from accomplishment, some of Johnson's appreciation likely stems from the context. For years, a focal point of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup schedule, the Coca-Cola 600 is the series' longest event -- 100 miles longer than any other -- held on a holiday weekend. Along with a packed track audience and millions more watching on television, drivers begin the race at approximately 5:30 p.m., and end it under the sparkle of lights.
"That's the most unique aspect of it, really the most challenging part of it," Johnson said. "The track changes a lot when the sun goes down. Keeps us on our toes all night long."
Johnson has the same effect on his competitors. With nine career starts at LMS, he has won the track's last four series events and five of the last six. He has top-10 finishes in his last eight races, the longest such streak. Johnson's first LMS start (October 2001) resulted in his worst finish there, to date -- 39th (his only DNF there).
He's also a week removed from his victory last Saturday night in NASCAR's annual non-points all-star event -- the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at LMS. He also won the event in 2003.
Johnson's LMS performances are reflected in NASCAR's Loop Data statistics, which yield a closer look at how races are won and lost. In the pre-race Loop Data for LMS -- based on last year's two races there -- Johnson leads five categories, including Closers (gaining a series-best average of 16 spots in the last 10 percent of laps in a race); Consecutive Laps with a Pass (13 on 5/29/05); Driver Rating (114.4 points), Fastest Lap (118.720 mph on 10/15/05) and Quality Passes (119).