Tha Sports Junkies 101

Johnson Aims for Record 8th Championship

Peter Stratta


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; the 48 team has had a terrible summer and shouldn’t be in the championship conversation. As is seemingly commonplace now, Jimmie Johnson had a lackluster summer stretch of races. But, do not count him out for a record 8th championship.

He’s won 7 championships in the last 11 seasons and won it all in surprising fashion last year. However, Johnson and the 48 team have a career-worst average finish this year (16.7). He still has 3 wins, but those were also his only top 5 finishes of 2017.

Looking to Chicago

The 2017 Playoffs kick off this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. Chicagoland is 1 of 3 active tracks Johnson is winless on. But in 15 starts, Johnson has 7 top 5s, 10 top 10s, and a 9.5 average finish. His best finish in the Windy City is 2nd, which he has posted 3 times.

So why shouldn’t Johnson be counted out of the Playoffs this year? Seemingly every year his teams ramps up performance in the fall when a title is on the line. Some of his statistically best tracks are in the Playoffs, such as Dover, Charlotte, Martinsville, and Texas. In total, he has 35 wins at those 4 tracks alone.

Las Vegas has the 7-time champion listed at 7-1 odds to repeat at 8-time. If Johnson can achieve this feat, he will have more Cup Series championships than anyone else in history.

Johnson and the 48 team are as motivated as ever to win at Chicagoland. It is the hometown track for crew chief Chad Knaus. A win at Chicagoland would mean advancing to Round 2 of the Playoffs, which starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jimmie won the Playoff race at Charlotte 1 year ago. With consistency and speed though, expect Jimmie to survive Round 1, barring a mechanical failure. A mechanical failure saw the 48 team not make it past Round 1 in 2015.

Truex, Larson, and Busch may have more speed and momentum heading into Chicagoland, but Jimmie and Chad can never be counted out. They have an uncanny ability to ‘flip the switch’ and perform significantly better in the Playoffs. At 7-1 odds, Jimmie said himself “I think we’d be a good bet to have.”