Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing are having a sensational season.
Jimmie Johnson, however, says don’t forget about me – and emphatically so.
Johnson’s Dover International Speedway victory was his 23rd in 93 Chase races, a winning percentage of 24.7. His record-setting eighth win set a Dover record, separating Johnson from NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Richard Petty.
It also moves the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion to second in standings, eight points behind Kenseth.
Johnson’s fifth victory of the season – and first in this year’s Chase – may have additional implications. In each of his championship campaigns, the 38-year-old Californian won at least five times overall and once during the postseason.
In other words, Johnson and the No. 48 Hendrick are on track to win title No. 6.
“We came to a good track,” said Johnson, “And we got what we needed to get done.
“You’ve got to win when you’re at your best race track.”
Statistically speaking, Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus can look ahead to Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 with continued optimism. The 1.5-mile track also is among the team’s best with two wins (most recently in fall 2011) and nine consecutive top-10 finishes for an overall average finish of 7.6.
Johnson also has led eight of the last 10 Kansas races, contributing to a series-best Driver Rating of 119.1.
“The bigger, faster tracks, I feel really good about our equipment,” said Johnson, who finished third in April’s STP 400 and ninth in last year’s Kansas Chase race.
Neither Johnson nor his Hendrick Motorsports teammates have been able to score on tracks measuring 1.5 miles in 2013 – the first season for their Gen-6 Chevrolet SS race cars. Conversely, Kenseth and teammate Kyle Busch have scored six such victories.