Unless Jimmie Johnson breaks a long-standing tie atop the Charlotte wins this Sunday – and nabs the potential Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot that goes with it – this first third of Johnson’s season will be a dirty dozen, indeed.
Johnson’s season-opening stretch of 0-for-11 isn’t unprecedented. But it’s close. Only once in his prolific career has Johnson needed 12 races to capture his first victory – way back in 2003, his sophomore season. Otherwise, he wins early – and often.
This seems like as good a site as any for the breakthrough win. Over the past 25 years, the Coca-Cola 600 has been a momentum-starting race. In fact, for 13 of the last 25 Coca-Cola 600 winners, it was their first win of the season. That might be a comforting stat for Johnson, who shares the all-time wins lead at Charlotte with NASCAR Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison.
Johnson, who will open this week’s NASCAR festivities by voting for the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class on Wednesday, has done just about everything BUT win this season. Seventh in points, Johnson has three top fives and six top 10s and ranks second in laps led with 527. Only Kevin Harvick has led more laps this season (672).