Overshadowed right now by the rejuvenation of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon and the performance of Team Penske, Jimmie Johnson’s recent steady showings have gone largely unnoticed.
Still, the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and reigning Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup victor enters the Contender Round with two consecutive top five finishes.
If Johnson was performing poorly, his lack of hype would be understandable. But he’s not. Although he doesn’t have the eye-popping recent wins of Gordon or the Team Penske pair of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, Johnson has been a model of consistency since his lackluster 28th-place finish at Watkins Glen. In his last seven starts, he boasts six top-10 finishes, including four top-five showings.
As he does year-in and year-out, Johnson has upped his game on the sport’s biggest stage. A statement victory – which would be his 25th in the Chase – could be coming soon.
At the Contender Round tracks (Kansas, Charlotte, Talladega), Johnson’s 11 victories are second to only Jeff Gordon’s 14 among active drivers, but Johnson has accrued his total in 43 less starts. Additionally, the No. 48 Chevrolet driver has dominated the loop statistics, ranking first in driver rating (103.9), average finish (12.6) and percentage of fastest laps (10.6).
If history repeats itself, Johnson’s statement showing could come this Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). He owns two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s and three Coors Light Pole Awards in 16 starts at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. To go with his traditional numbers, Johnson boasts track series-bests in average finish (7.6), average running position (7.5), driver rating (117.4) and fastest laps run (478).