It’s been over a year since Jimmie Johnson last won a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. He won three races all of last year but none since June 4. In fact, he only has six total top five finishes since the start of the 2017 season and none since May 27. So, why am I picking Johnson as a favorite this weekend?
He’s due, he knows the track well and he has a fast race car under him.
Johnson, is a three-time Southern 500 winner. He gave Hendrick Motorsports a historic win under the lights at the Darlington Raceway in 2012. From 2012 though 2014, Johnson even had three straight top four finishes on the South Carolina race track. He also brought his No. 48 Chevrolet home 12th in last year’s race.
This weekend, Johnson has looked great in the two Friday practice sessions. He was seventh and third respectively on the timing charts. Doesn’t it sound like he’s a solid contender?
Well, so are his teammates too.
Chase Elliott was only 18th quickest in the first practice session but second in final practice in his No. 9 Chevrolet. Alex Bowman was in the top 10 in each session in his No. 88 Chevrolet (4th, 10th). Rookie William Byron was 12th and 20th respectively himself.
So, with HMS wanting to get all four drivers into the playoffs, getting a win on Sunday in Darlington and next Sunday in Indy with Byron and Bowman would be ideal. But, Johnson is sitting there as a top threat.