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Prediction: Jimmie Johnson retires with eight titles, third on wins list

During the recent Michigan International Raceway NASCAR weekend, Hendrick Motorsports announced a three-year contract extension for Jimmie Johnson, so we know the latest seven-time champ is going to be around for three more years, beyond 2017, at the very least. He very well could race beyond 2020, but like I said, at the least, we know he’s going to be around at least three more years beyond the 2017 season.
That being said, it’s fun to speculate what kind of numbers one of the greatest, if not the greatest (that’s up for debate and often is debated), NASCAR premier series driver of all-time will have at the end of the 2020 season, which may or may not be his final season as a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver.
The following stats are commonly known to NASCAR fans, but let’s review. Johnson has seven Cup Series championships, tied with NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for most all-time. Those seven include five consecutive titles between 2006 and 2010, a record for most consecutive championships after he surpassed the three-straight championship mark to break the record formerly held by another NASCAR Hall of Famer, Cale Yarborough.
Speaking of Yarborough, Johnson’s tied with him for sixth on the all-time wins list with 83 trips to victory lane. That tally also puts him just one race behind a two-way tie for fourth on the wins list with, yet, a couple more Hall of Famers, Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip. The three drivers ahead of that tie are two NASCAR Hall of Famers, Richard Petty and David Pearson and likely soon-to-be first-ballot Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon.
Notice that common theme of the NASCAR Hall of Fame? That’s the kind of company Johnson keeps.
Anyway, here’s where I see Johnson after 2020, whether or not that’s his final season as a Cup Series driver.
He’ll definitely, not only break that wins tie with Yarborough, he’ll also tie and then pass Waltrip and Allison for sole position of fourth on the list. Then, Johnson will set his sights on former Hendrick Motorsports teammate Gordon with 93 wins.
With 83, Johnson trails Gordon by 10 wins. Johnson already has three wins, so far, in 2017. One more win this season, which is, definitely, a possibility — heck, it’s likely — would leave an average of three more wins per year over the course of the next three seasons for Johnson to tie Gordon. So, one additional win in there somewhere, either this season or sometime during the next three seasons is a distinct possibility.
I see Johnson catching and passing Gordon. Sure, Johnson’s in the late stages of his career (and I hate saying that, since he’s approximately my age), but he’s still tops in the sport. He leads the series in wins through the first 15 races and he’s the reigning Cup Series champion. One would be foolish to say that Johnson’s career is in decline.
Catching Pearson and Petty, though, is a different story. Pearson would be closest with his 105 wins. Twenty two wins in the next three-and-a-half years is a lot to ask, I think. And suggesting he’ll catch Petty’s 200-win mark in that amount of time would be foolish, considering he’d have to win all but 12 of the races remaining between now and the end of the 2020 season to even tie Petty. Johnson’s great but definitely don’t see that happening.
I see Johnson retiring as the third driver on the all-time wins list, trailing only Petty and Pearson.
Now, on to a championship discussion. Johnson has at least four more chances to win that record-breaking eighth championship, and I see him doing it.
Seven-time is, definitely going to be in the playoffs (whew, I almost said Chase, there). After all, he has a series-leading three wins in the first 15 races.
Anyway, trends point at at least another title for Johnson. Remember, we’re talking about a driver whose career isn’t remotely close to being in decline. Do you realize, that since Johnson won his first championship in 2006, he’s never gone more than two-straight years without a championship. Based on that trend, and considering he seems to still be on top of his came, I’m predicted another championship in the next few years.
To summarize, here are my predictions, relating to Johnson:
He’ll retire as an eight-time champion, third on the all-time wins list. He’ll be nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame as soon as be becomes eligible for that consideration and follow that up by being a first-ballot inductee.
BONUS PREDICTION: Chad Knaus will retire simultaneous to Johnson, tied with Dale Inman for most championships for a premier series crew chief with eight. Like Johnson, he’ll show up on the Hall of Fame ballot as soon as he’s eligible for consideration, and he and Johnson will go in together.
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on June 20, 2017. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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