The champ is back.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – Well, that didn’t take long.
Jimmie Johnson has enjoyed a dramatic reversal of fortune, a two-week winning streak after starting the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season 0-for-11. Inevitably, this has people rethinking the 2014 season, now that Johnson has redefined it.
The champ is back.
Victories the last two weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway – the former event being one of NASCAR’s “majors,” the Coca-Cola 600 – has Johnson looking completely capable of winning a record-tying seventh series championship. And he is teed up nicely for a possible third consecutive victory, as the defending race winner for Sunday’s race, the Pocono 400.
Pocono Raceway – a 2.5-mile race track with only three turns and virtually no banking – is called the “Tricky Triangle” but Johnson never has found it all that puzzling. In addition to his June 2013 win, he swept the track’s two races in 2004, his third full-time season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – an early inkling of the dominance that was coming down the pike. Overall at Pocono, Johnson’s average finish is 8.8 and his Driving Rating is 109.3. Both of those statistics, based on 24 starts, are series-bests.
There are three two-time winners in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series thus far this year – Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano. This is certainly what could be called “preferred status” as all three have almost certainly clinched spots in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR’s ‘playoffs” that are contested over the final 10 races of the season.
Those three still must fulfill two more requirements, however, to make the Chase. They must finish the first 26 races of the season in the top 30 of the series points. Sixteen spots are available for the Chase, with race winners getting first dibs, provided they fulfill all the qualification requirements. If there are less than 16 different winners, remaining berths will be based on the series standings after the first 26 races.
NASCAR Wire Service