As we get ready to drop the Green Flag on the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season, and the Daytona 500 this afternoon, two of the hottest topics around the garage, and in the bleachers is, could 71 year-old Richard Petty beat Danica Patrick in a grudge race, and can Jimmie Johnson win his seventh Sprint Cup Title? I personally think the King could take The GoDaddy girl off turn four in a drag race to the checkers, but the subject of a seventh title for the Lowes Chevrolet is another subject all together.
Obviously, a seventh title in 2014 would tie a record that has stood since the late Dale Earnhardt won his seventh Cup title in 1994. Earnhardt’s victories are more in line with modern racing, as some of the records held by the King were made in days when they raced multiple times a week with more opportunities to gather points.
If you had asked me in 1998 if four-time NASCAR Champ, Jeff Gordon could catch the record, I would have said, no problem. The Race for the Chase, the COT Car, and the loss of Ray Evernham pretty much killed that threat to the record. Had the format not changed, Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors were on their way to number five in 2004, and who know how it would have played out.
The Race For The Chase format was tailor-made for a guy like Jimmie Johnson. He runs well on all types of tracks, knows how to win races, and is dialed in to all of the tracks in the 10 race finale’. That makes him a continous threat as long as he decides to drive a race car.
I know fans are tired of seeing the 38 year-old driver from El Cajon lifting that Sprint Cup trophy at Homestead, a track where he has never won a race, but we need to give credit where credit is due. I am personally not a big JJ fan, but hey…the guy is a winner, and if you want to see your driver in victory lane, tell him he needs to get better.
Since his full-time entry into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2002, no one wins like Jimmie Johnson. Since 2002, Johnson has piled up 66 wins – 30 more than second-place during that span (Tony Stewart, 36). To put that into perspective, 30 wins would put a driver in 23rd on the all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins list. In the 65-year history of the series, the premium on winning has never been this high. And that’s good news for Johnson.
Since the Race for the Chase was initiated in 2004, other than Jimmie Johnson, only Kurt Busch in 2004, Tony Stewart in 2005, and 2011, and Brad Keslowski in 2012 have knocked out the Lowes Chevrolet for the title. Had Jimmie Johnson not blown up in the 2012 race at Homestead, I believe he and Crew Chief Chad Knaus knew how to beat the Miller Lite Dodge on that day.
So can Jimmie Johnson win number seven? It’s not guaranteed in 2014, but I think he will get number seven very soon, then we will be hating him some more as he tries to break the seven-win barrier for that 8th title. If you are already hating on him, it’s going to get worse because I think number eight is on his to-do list, and I don’t see anyone stopping him.
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