Sunday could be record-setting day for Jimmie Johnson
With a victory in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson would continue his ascent into the rarefied air of stock car racing.
Johnson, who holds the record at Dover International Speedway with 10 victories, will join an elite fraternity of just two fellow champions — Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip — should he score an 11th win at the Monster Mile this weekend.
Petty has earned 11 or more victories at Martinsville (15), North Wilkesboro (15), Richmond (13) and Rockingham (11). Waltrip accomplished the 11-or-more win feat at Bristol (12) and Martinsville (11).
Although Johnson has 82 career Cup victories — and will tie Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time win list with No. 83 — he has spread the success around on 20 different tracks. Next to his 10 wins at Dover, Martinsville Speedway ranks second on his most wins list with nine, followed by eight at Charlotte.
“There are tracks that fit a driver’s style and a team’s style,” Johnson said. “And I think because of how much success we’ve had here; this is a track that fits Chad’s style and mine. The car dynamics and how much the car moves around and the way it launches into the corner and lands, and then you turn around and fight through all the banking that has the launch back up onto the straightaway, takes me back to my roots and really challenges the crews and the crew chiefs and engineers to make the car comfortable and secure.
“So, I just think that the challenges this track throws at a team just fits us really well.”
In addition to Johnson’s record-10 wins at the Monster Mile, in half of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy driver’s 30 starts he’s finished in the top-five. He’s accumulated 21 top-10 finishes and enjoys an average finish of 9.5 with and average running position of 7.8.
Take on schedule changes
With the Champ’s career winding down, he hasn’t put a lot of thought into the next year’s schedule. When asked what he thought about the modifications to the lineup, Johnson replied, “Were there big changes besides the roval?”
Certainly, with the success Johnson has parlayed on the 1.5-mile oval, there’s no doubt that changing the layout to add nine turns from the straightaway to the infield and exiting just prior to Turn 1 could be a game-changer for Johnson. But the overall alterations didn’t seem to faze the seven-time champ.
“You can tell I’ve been paying attention,” Johnson said. “I don’t care where they are or what we do. I’m ready to race and I think this team can win regardless of where those events are held. I think the roval stands out the most. That’s the biggest change in my opinion. We’ll take it as it comes. And I guess I’ve just been focused on this year and what we have going on. And, I know that our sport is going through a lot of change. So, I’m not surprised.
“I feel like there’s a lot of excitement with other forms of sports due to the fact that playoff events change and move around and locations change. So, in driver council meetings that I’ve been a part of and conversations that have taken place, I’ve kind of sensed that change was coming and I’ve been for it. I’ve been for it mainly because of the excitement it can bring to the fans in our sport and much less about how it pertains to the No. 48 car. If I could have a voice, I would say the 10 playoff races were all right here (Dover) and that would benefit the No. 48 the most.”
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