Its no secret, every time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover, Jimmie Johnson is immediately tabbed as the favorite. Rightfully so too, Johnson has a track record 10 victories at Dover which is beyond astounding. He also has 15 top fives and 20 top 10’s to his credit at the high banked Delaware track in 29 tries.
That has to make him feel good about his chances on Sunday.
Johnson, currently sits eighth in the Chase grid with one race to go in the opening round. He sits 18 points ahead of the cutoff as that gives him some room to work with this weekend. Also, Johnson has some good momentum again, as his No. 48 Chevrolet has been much stronger than it has been this season.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver likely would have had a top five finish at Chicago if not for a pit road speeding penalty on his final pit stop. He’d finish 12th instead. He came home eighth last Sunday in New Hampshire, but he was a top five car for most of the day. He was also 11th in the last race of the regular season at Richmond and seventh and sixth respectively at Bristol and Michigan to give him five top 12’s in his last six starts.
If he can get that to six on Sunday, then he will advance rather easily to the second round of the Chase. But, his sights are set bigger – he wants a win. Dover is obviously the perfect track to do so at too.
Johnson, hasn’t had a top five since a third place finish at Indy back in July as that is his lone top five in the last 15 races. He knows that without rattling off some top fives, it won’t be good enough to advance him to the third round. So, what better place to get some big momentum back than this weekend?
That’s how important Sunday is to Johnson. He needs a top five if not a win for his psyche.