Jimmie Johnson is off to a strong start to the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. He has not won since 2017, but with how he is running, how many races will he win this year?
It has been 98 races since seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has won a points-paying race, the longest drought of his career by 74 races. His last win came at Dover International Speedway back in June of 2017. Since then, he has struggled to run up front and be competitive.
Johnson has recorded 31 top 10 finishes, of which only seven are top five finishes, since he won that race. These are not the numbers you would expect from a seven-time champion and an 83-time race winner.
However, there is some hope for Johnson the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team. Johnson has started the 2020 season with two top 10 finishes, including a fifth place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
He also finished in seventh place this past weekend at Auto Club Speedway after starting from the front row. As a result, he sits in fifth in the Cup Series championship standings.
At this point last year, Johnson sat in 17th place in the standings and was left with no hope for speed in the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. He had recorded one top 10 finish, but that was at Daytona International Speedway in the Daytona 500. The start of last year was a real indicator for how his season was going to. It was the start of his worst year in his 18-year full-time career, a year in which he missed the playoffs for the first time.
With the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, the Chevrolets have looked fast to start the 2020 season. Particularly, Hendrick Motorsports have really stepped it up.
Chase Elliott had the fastest car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before a flat tire and subsequent spin took him out of contention, and Alex Bowman was the class of the field en route to winning at Auto Club Speedway after coming close to winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway himself. Bowman and Elliott currently sit atop the laps led list three races into the year.
In the two races since the Daytona 500, Johnson has consistently run inside the top 10, even leading 10 laps at Auto Club Speedway. It looks like the #48 Chevrolet is ready to break out and return to its winning ways. But the question is, how many races will Johnson win in his swan song season?
Johnson just needs to break through and win one race. If he can do that, he could easily rip off a stretch in which he wins multiple races.
With one win, he would tie Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth place on the all-time wins list. Another win after that would push him into fourth all by himself.
With how fast the Chevrolets have been in the last two races, it seems that Jimmie Johnson will have cars that can compete for wins throughout the remainder of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
With crew chief Cliff Daniels doing a great job of turning the #48 team around, Johnson is poised to go out and compete up front week in and week out. This makes it easier to envision him breaking through and winning at least one race in his final full season, and it would not be surprising to see him find victory lane multiple times.